Author behind ‘Mean Girls’ movie coming to valley | AspenTimes.com

Author behind ‘Mean Girls’ movie coming to valley

Naomi Havlen

The author of a best-selling book that was adapted for the screen as “Mean Girls” is coming to Aspen this week as a keynote speaker for the Aspen Youth Center.Rosalind Wiseman is the author of “Queen Bees and Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence.” When Wiseman’s book hit Hollywood, it inspired a movie starring Lindsay Lohan as a teenager who infiltrates her high school’s in-crowd and quickly gets absorbed into the world of cliques and popularity.Of course, what’s laughable on the silver screen can be a different story when it turns into reality for pre-teens and teenagers in school. Sarah Blangsted, executive director of the Aspen Youth Center, said she spoke with a counselor at Aspen Middle School who said they see these sorts of issues a lot. And at the Aspen Youth Center, Blangsted said a seventh-grader told her that the bullying, jealousy and cliques are a reality of life in middle school.Wiseman’s book breaks down the world of teenage girls by putting girls into categories such as Queen Bee, Sidekick or Torn Bystander, outlining parenting styles, and offering tips on talking to teenagers. “Queen Bees and Wannabees” was a New York Times best-seller, and was featured on Oprah and CNN.By inviting Wiseman to the Roaring Fork Valley, the youth center is tackling the challenges of adolescence, first in Basalt and then in Aspen. On Wednesday, Wiseman will appear at Basalt Middle School for two workshops with kids; Thursday she’ll speak to students and then faculty at Aspen Middle School.On Thursday evening Wiseman will give a keynote speech at the Aspen District Theatre. The discussion will be tailored for parents of both boys and girls.”We want to help the parents, teachers and counselors come up with ways to deal with [the issues], rather than ignoring the situation,” Blangsted said.Last week the youth center sponsored two showings of “Mean Girls” in Aspen and Basalt to give the community a feel for the issues.Before the movie, valley resident Denise Sanchez, who works with teenagers through nonprofits like the Aspen Youth Experience and the Buddy Program, sat down for a discussion with local teens on what they see in their own lives.”The movie touches on some really important topics – how you can lose yourself and forget who you are when you’re so worried about being popular, and how you dress,” she said. “The kids are very interested in this topic, and it’s about giving them perspective. You have to open their eyes to other things and give them the skills to deal with these situations.”Those skills include being able to understand the role teenagers play in school, to look at who they are, and eventually develop interactive skills to deal with gossip, cliques and bullies when these problems arise in school.”We all went through middle and high school and survived it, and some people can put it in the past, but others have a hard time moving forward until they put certain issues to rest,” she said. “It’s important to get to young girls and guys early and give them empowerment. We want to tell them that they have control over what their lives are going to be like and to give them the skills to develop their personal selves.”The event is part of the seventh annual education series, which is a fund-raiser for the Aspen Youth Center. The nonprofit, located in the Aspen Recreation Center, is a private agency that provides a variety of after-school activities – from arts and crafts to sports – at a cost of just $2 per day. Blangsted said it keeps kids busy during hours of the day when if they were left alone, they would be much more likely to engage in risky behavior.Tickets for Thursday’s discussion with Wiseman are $15 and are available at the Wheeler Opera House. For more information, contact the Aspen Youth Center at 544-4130.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com