Popularity: What does it take?

Posted on December 7, 2011


Imagine you are a fish.  Not a big fish, but a small fish that is very easily taken for granted. You’re the fish that swims with a lot of other fish that look and act like you, so everyone can just blend in together.  Now imagine being a shark, the king of the ocean.  You have lots of power, and are able to use it at your own will.  You sometimes swim with others like yourself, but are not afraid to swim alone because, no matter what, you will always rule in the deep blue sea.  This undersea food chain of social status is much like one that we have all experienced…high school.

The "Plastics" from Mean Girls

High school is a time for everyone to find themselves.  This is the time to become who we will be for the rest of our lives.  This is where we grow up.  So is it important to be popular in high school?

Senior Jake Stevens feels like it is. “You have many friends and seem to more easily make new ones, usually get invited to the parties and social events, [gain] respect and recognition from your peers, [are] always up on the latest “happenings” (if not involved in them), and usually [gain] more confidence that you can carry through life.”

Although psychologists have studied popularity for years, the issue continues to perplex men and women everywhere.

Former runway model, Tyra Banks, conducted a study on teenage social status on an episode of her talk show.  The study was based around what it was like to be popular and unpopular in high school.  Tyra selected a handful of unpopular girls, and then chose the same amount of popular girls, all from the same school.  At first she interviewed each group separately.  Then, she put the two groups together, and asked them questions that got the conversation going.  In short, the popular girls didn’t see anything wrong with being popular, and who is to say there is?  However, the unpopular girls saw the popular girls as mean and, as they referred to them, “plastic”.  All of the unpopular girls had at one point in their high school career been attacked verbally by the “plastics”.

Another great example of this phenomena, is the 2004 movie Mean Girls.  This is a prime example of how sometimes the popular group can take things a bit far, and just by wearing the right cloths and having money, pretty much anyone can get to the top of the social status faster than a blink of an eye.

So what is it about popularity that makes some people want to be a part of it so bad?

“I think it’s mainly the feeling of being accepted and recognized by your peers. It makes you feel like you’re part of something and that is a very desirable thing in high school,” Jake says.

Popularity is something that aggravates, torments, and even makes us feel at ease knowing that there is a group of people to run it all.  Are you willing to do whatever it takes to become popular, become queen bee or prince charming?  What will you do to swim the sharks?

Reported by: Kylie Wright

Posted in: Teen Issue