Parents can make matters worse. Schools don’t know what to do. Anti-bullying laws backfire. The rumors, gossip, hateful and hurtful behavior that girls engage in are often an attempt to cover up their own fears and flaws. So what if instead of giving them lectures, we gave girls the tools to change? The courage to be nice?
We knew for there to be any hope of getting girls to change their bad behavior, it would have to feel like their idea. It couldn’t be heavily branded. It should seem slightly subversive. So we put “good graffiti” print in high visibility magazines that encouraged girls to “be nice behind someone’s back” and sent them to a Facebook page with our good graffiti app. (Some girls took the idea further — to their own school restroom walls.) We gave away t-shirts, aired genuine apologies on Hulu that sent girls to a Facebook “confession booth,” partnered with experts on teen bullying who could give real time advice on sticky and stinky situations, and simply provided a place, a wall for them to let it all out.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive. “Mean Stinks” and Secret together garnered over 200,000 Facebook fans literally overnight. The “good graffiti” app was downloaded over 250,000 times. Every day, the Mean Stinks Facebook wall hums with hundreds of girls offering apologies, sharing their stories, asking for t-shirts, supporting each, vowing to be nicer and giving mad props to Secret.