After seeing “Real Girls Can’t Win” debut in Morgantown last year, West Virginia University studio-acting student Ashley Koon sat in her car, speechless.

“No one will leave this play without feeling something in it was relevant to their life,” Koon said.

Real Girls Can’t Win, written by Merrie Bleicher, follows insecure college freshman and “real girl” Katie Rogers as she competes with the band of beautiful and ruthless “copy girls” to win “Miss Freshman B Dorm.”

The battle that ensues finds “real girls” and “copy girls” pitted against one another and forced to confront issues of societal pressure on women, harassment, the power of female sexuality and the draw of drinking and drugs.

During this year’s performance, directed by assistant professor and program director of musical theater Bryce Britton, Koon will play the role of Katie Two, Katie Rogers’ driven and beautiful best friend who is more interested in her dreams of becoming a doctor than she is in achieving the social status of the “copy girls.”

“Katie Two focuses so much on her career and education because she is uncomfortable with herself,” Koon said.

Katie Rogers, who recognizes she will never be accepted in the clique, feels jealousy toward her best friend Katie Two, who, despite her insecurities, could easily become a “copy girl”, according to Allison Chester, a senior studio-acting student who will play Katie Rogers in Real Girls Can’t Win.

“Katie Rogers wants to conform, but will never be able to, so she decides to change the world in small increments, starting with challenging the copy girls for the competition,” Chester said. “In the world today, it is the copy girls who win because of societal pressures on women to conform to certain physical ideals.”

According to Chester, women who are subjected to body shaming and who feel burdened by their inability to meet societal standards often don’t possess the self-confidence to succeed.

Consistently in the play, the “copy girls” take their clothes off, using their sexuality to get attention from men and the student body, Koon said.

The climax of the play follows the “real girls” as they decide whether or not to succumb to the pressure the “copy girls” have created and utilize sex as a tool to gain approval and popularity.

After seeing the play last year and witnessing such realistic portrayals of female bullying inflicted upon the “real girls” by the “copy girls,” Koon said she wondered if she was part of the problem.

“The message of ‘Real Girls Can’t Win’ is so important, and it’s really heartbreaking,” Chester said. “We need to take care of each other.”

The WVU School of Theatre and Dance will present “Real Girls Can’t Win” at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14-16, 2 p.m. on Jan. 17 and at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21-23 in the Gladys Davis Theatre located in the Creative Arts Center.

All showings of “Real Girls Can’t Win” are free and open to the public.