Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

June 24, 2014
Popularity is a label that is often misunderstood

Labels. Everyone uses them to categorize other people. But do we really understand labels? In high school, I really don’t think so. There is one label I feel people are quick to use, but don’t really know what it means. I’m talking about being popular.

People talk about popularity all of the time. I hear kids mention it at school, it’s all over in books and magazines, and it’s a topic in countless movies. I’m sure many of you have seen or even heard of “Mean Girls.” It’s a whole movie dedicated to popularity.

If you have never heard of “Mean Girls,” then here are more examples, like “Never Been Kissed,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Grease,” “High School Musical,” “Bring It On,” “She’s All That,” “Easy A,” “Hairspray” or “Carrie.” Everyone is bound to know at least one of these movies, and popularity is the common thread in each.

Yet, in each of these movies, the “popular” kids at some point or another are perceived as “bad guys.” Why is that? Is it because they are rich? Is it because they always seem to get everything they want, even if we think they don’t deserve it?

It seems to me that everyone has a warped definition of popularity. I am guilty of this. But then I think, who actually decides who or what qualifies to be popular? Teenagers just kind of decide who is popular and we all just go with it. Yet, because such popularity is often based on superficial reasons, it isn’t realistic. We think someone qualifies because they’re super rich and have a nice car, they’re dating the cutest boy in school, or they’re a student body officer and in the royalty at school dances. But it really doesn’t. They could have all that, and in my book, still not be popular.

I think everyone just needs to remember that popular people are humans, too. They get up for school, they worry about what to wear, and they eat breakfast and do their homework. The hard part for us is that we don’t see that side of them. And just because we think they are super hot, doesn’t automatically mean they are a jerk. Just because a girl is a cheerleader doesn’t make her a dumb blonde. It’s really sad to think that we, including me, assume those things about popular students, and then get mad at them because they assume things about us. It isn’t really fair then to ask them not to judge, is it?

So why do others want to be like popular people if they are “so bad?” There is a reason, and no, it’s not because they have nice cars or they are dating the quarterback. And it’s not because they are gorgeous or get whatever they want.

People are popular simply because of this: They appear to be happy with who they are. We are drawn to that. They are positive, outgoing and healthy. Their lives may not be perfect, but they are able to deal with obstacles and setbacks that may come up, and they do it happily.

It’s also the people who have that infectious smile, or who can make us laugh. To me, that’s all popularity really is. That’s what we are drawn to. We love the fact that they are confident and because of this, they are accepting of everyone else. They are friendly, smart and full of life.

Another reason why we think of them as bad is because, maybe one group of “popular” kids doesn’t exude confidence, and so they bully. We then decide that all “popular” kids are bad. It also may be because we are intimidated by them. A lot of us, especially in high school, are not confident in ourselves. When we see someone who is, we get down on ourselves for not being that way. Or we think that because we are not confident, they won’t have anything to do with us. But that is not the case.

Popular people may be some of the greatest people you will ever meet. It’s just that we don’t give them a chance to make a good impression. We have already pre-judged them. And because of that, how can we expect them not to judge us if we are so quick to put labels on them?

I am guilty of this, but now that I’ve thought about it, I’m not so quick to judge. I realize that as a teenage girl, I may not know everything in the universe and that’s OK. Hey, maybe I will even become popular because it really isn’t that bad. If loving who you are labels you as being popular, then count me in.


Peatross will start her junior year at Tooele High School in August.

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