School clique banned "ugly" people from joining

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High school girls in Brisbane, Australia recently created an elite group they called "Club 21." The girls ranked themselves and each other based on weight, appearance, and popularity with boys -- the higher the number, the higher the ranking -- and then wrote their number on their wrists. One student wrote, "Ugly girls need not apply."

When the club was discovered, parents and local media were outraged. The club made the front page of many local papers. The school principal, however, is now defending his students, saying they've been devastated by the negative attention. He's asking everyone involved to remember that these are teenagers, vulnerable young people who make mistakes.

I was surprised when I found his view refreshing. As a former sensitive girl who is now a mother to two sensitive girls, I'm concerned about the high school years ahead. The "mean girl" culture scares me; I worry that my girls will be a target of it or that, maybe worse, they'll be a part of it. While I think the behavior of these girls is unacceptable and needs to be dealt with, I have to agree that the harsh media criticism their getting is likely more damaging than it is helpful.

Instead of attacking children, maybe time would be better spent changing the environment that creates these types of behaviors in the first place. One of the best books I've read about parenting girls is Packaging Girlhood (they also have a blog), and in it, they spend a lot of time discussing how the "mean girl" culture was born and is cultivated, as well as ways that we as parents can put a stop to it.

I'm curious -- what do you think? Is the media being too harsh on the girls from Brisbane, or are they getting what they deserve? How do you support (or plan to support) your girls in their teenage years?

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