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Gammas Who Dine

Mar 4, 2011

This past Monday I walked into my office and noticed someone had laid out Washington Post Magazine, open to “What Happens When Mean Girls Grow Up?”  I have an idea why it was out (hint: to call out the mean girls in the office), but regardless, it became a topic of conversation amongst my friends, acquaintances, and apparently a lot of others this week.
Before I had a chance to read it, I wondered what does happen when mean girls grow up?  Do they stay mean, as it's the only way they've ever known to get ahead?  Or do the mellow out and realize that being nice to other girls won't mean their demise?

The article suggests they mature and everyone gets along in the end.   Many of the “Alphas,” or Mean Girls – girls who “selectively [pass] along information” and are “driven by external social hierarchies or other indicators of status or popularity” – turn into “Gammas” – women who “share and exchange information, ideas, opinions, contacts and recommendations” and are “guided by [their] internal beliefs, passions and priorities.”
I’ve always been a Gamma.  More specifically, I wanted to be friends with everyone, but then I got to high school and found out not everyone wanted to be friends with me, and my friendliness was actually a handicap to my popularity.  Although I was boy crazy – like every other girl in my school except for one goth lesbian – I always put my friends first.  They were way more important to me than any guy, and that unfortunately made me pretty sensitive when someone dropped me for a boy, or worse, a cooler girl.
I have a theory, with minor scientific evidence to back it up, that we are who we are by the time we’re 15.  I say this because I have several friends that I’ve known since that time, including K, and they are EXACTLY THE SAME.  Exactly.  (It should be noted here that this is why you should never expect someone you’re in a relationship with to change.  It won’t happen.)  (Also, the goth lesbian was a Gamma -- if a little weird -- and when I ran into her a few years ago, now a blonde, Banana Republic wearing heterosexual, she was embarrassed by my memory of her past.  Such things aren't important to Gammas though, so we had a good laugh and changed the subject.)

Of course we adapt to our various environments and learn how to roll with the punches as we get older.  But those personality traits that defined us in high school probably still define us now.  I still want to be friends with everyone, but I’ve learned how to scope them out quickly and find out if they’ll be a friend or foe.  I’m still sensitive, but the hurt feelings roll off my back much quicker than they used to.   I’m sure this part of my personality is seen by others as a weakness; I don’t really care.  Because here’s the difference between grown up Mean Girls and Gammas: Mean Girls will exploit and magnify others’ weaknesses while Gammas will encourage and promote others' strengths.
This was the main topic of conversation last night at the new Dupont restaurant Dirty Martini between three Gammas: me, Sassy Marmalade, and A Single Girl.  We each have been burned or crossed by one or more Mean Girls lately.  After we had a nice trash talk session, we started to really think about this issue in light of blogging.
Social media has been wonderful for us three for many reasons, but we all agreed that the top perk of it was meeting new people, especially girls.  After all, the only reason we were all sitting together was because we all write similar blogs and found each other through Twitter.  It’s a wonderful way to make new friends, and a Gamma can’t have too many of those.
On the flip side, while it’s disheartening to know that Mean Girls who stayed Mean Girls are out there competing with us, it’s more disheartening that they feel like they have to compete, especially by publicly cutting someone down.  Even if the cut downs are subtle, we girls know how it works, and their subtlety just comes off as insecurity.  Why should they be insecure?  Grown up Mean Girls rise to power by sabotaging and intimidating others, so we Gammas should be the insecure ones, right?
Well, maybe just for a minute.  But that’s when we call, email, or tweet our fellow Gammas and get right back up.  Or better yet, plan a joint happy hour to usher in spring! 
You see, the other thing about Gammas is we exude fun, so as we were leaving last night the manager made sure we met the owner, who was thrilled with the idea of being the venue for our happy hour when they open their patio (the largest outdoor bar in DC!).  At A Single Girl’s Valentine’s happy hour, she came up with the fantastic idea to have a drink mixed and named after her, so we asked if Dirty Martini would do the same.  The owner waved his head bartender over to us, and he was excited to come up with something.  When he asked what the name of it would be, there was no doubt in our minds: “The Gamma.”
Details to come!


  1. OMG, I LOVE this post! (Obviously)

  2. This post made me grin ear to ear while I was reading it. Go gammas! :)

  3. Yay! Looking forward to read your Gamma posts!

  4. Loved this post!! I am such a Gamma AND (ok, really you'll get a kick out of this) in high school, my four friends and I wanted to come up with a cool name that was just us AND...we called ourselves GAMAS! (I know!) It's the first initial of each of our names so not very original (guess who's the "G")and we've just come in frequent contact with each other again via FB. We totally get the GAMMAS personality since many of the 5 of us possess it completely! Great post!

  5. "Banana Republic wearing heterosexual" - if she were a guy, this would not be possible...

  6. I looooooove Dirty Martini! I was there on my bday with Mr. U back in January. Cheers, T.

  7. The HH sounds like a fun idea, keep me posted!