Is popularity a worthy goal?

Filed under: Big Kids, Day Care & Education

When you think of a popular girl in school, what kind of person comes to mind? A girl who is popular because she is friendly and fun and the other kids like being around her? Or a girl who is popular because she's a member of a small group of girls who have set themselves above the others?

Me, I think of Rachel, a girl I went to school with from kindergarten through high school. One day in about third grade, she looked me up and down and asked if I was poor. I honestly didn't know the answer, but she didn't wait for it anyway. She flipped her hair, spun on her heel and walked away. Rachel's ability to be ruthlessly mean in third grade somehow made her popular. Trying to find the logic in that makes my head hurt, but it seems likely that girls wanted to be her friend because they were scared to be her enemy. She quickly gained a following of mini-meanies and thus began her life as a Popular Girl, a title she wielded fiercely until graduation.

I am thinking about Rachel these days because Ellie has become intrigued by the notion of being popular. And while I know some girls can be popular and nice, that isn't the image Ellie and her friends have. To them, a popular girl is a Rachel. She rules the school wearing expensive clothes and putting down other kids.

I can thank television for introducing her to this concept, but it's real enough and she would have encountered it on her own at some point anyway. And while I don't want her to suffer at the hands of a girl like Rachel, I certainly don't want her to be a girl like Rachel. She knows what I think - that striving to be popular for the sake of being popular is a shallow goal. And judging people by the clothes they wear is even worse. But through friends and other influences, Ellie is getting the message that being popular is important. And that popular girls are mean. How do you counteract an idea as appealing as popularity?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.