What is the societal label "Popular"? By Vickie Green

Here's what my classmates had to say when I asked them what their opinion on "populars" were...

"They're more likely to be with social situations like partying"
"They're always with new people"
"Athletic, cliquey, party a lot, have a lot of friends"
"They do everything for show. They always look like they're having the best time"
"They're errogent and they gossip about people in a bad way"

While talking with my peers I realized that people define "populars" very similarly and so I wanted to see how others defined/thought about this label...

" A group of teenagers in high school that for some reason are mysteriously known as the most important kids in the school, usually without the rest of the student bodies knowledge as to how and when this happened." - Urban Dictionary
"There also seems to be a trend to define young people as either smashingly successful or not, which comes into play in academics and in the social world. The number of outsider labels in schools is increasing, while the ideal image of a mainstream popular kid is narrowing. While perhaps 2 percent of the students in high school are popular and mainstream, the rest of them are outsiders" - Alexandra Robbins, interview on Salon.com

Since people have similar opinions on populars I wondered what kind expectations we as a society have put on these so called Popular kids?

They're expected to be fit and stay in shape, because that's the body type people are idealizing and these individuals need to be physically "perfect".
These students are expected to always dress in style by wearing nice trendy or designer clothes because their supposed to follow the current style trends in media.
Populars are expected to drive nice cars ( I personally see a lot of Volvo and the occasional BMW in the parking lot)
Lastly, because these individuals are expected to look nice all the time they must have clear, blemish, and imperfection free skin.
For girls in the popular group their makeup is expected to look nice all the time because they have to look physically perfect and flawless.

All those expectations listed above were either physical or material expectations but we also have expectations on what they are supposed to act like...

▪️These individuals in the popular group are assumed to act like they think they're better everyone else because they are higher up on the social ladder

▪️ These individuals are expected to be highly judgemental of those who are not "popular" like themselves because they're seen as the elite of the school and everyone else is below them.

▪️ Stereotypically we expected them to act like they don't care about school and that mentally they're not overtly intelligent and so in movies they're usually getting others to do their work.

▪️We expect these individuals to have many friends and specifically those friends are only those under this social label/part of their clique.

▪️Just like some of my classmates stated above we expect these students to be very sociable and be seen or post on social media at parties and "having a good time".

With every label comes with advantages or disadvantages when an individual is placed into that group, below are the advantages and disadvantages come with that title of "popular" as well as the effect that is caused by this label...

These "popular kids" socially know a lot of popular students both at their school as well as other schools. Not only do they know the popular kids in their grade level but they also know other popular students from other grades as well. Those in the popular group definitely do not have any shortage of friends.

Though like any friend group there are bad things that occur, and in the popular group they fight like any friends do and some could say it's to be at the top of the social ladder in their own group. Due to the fact that populars have such large friend groups there is no denying that they have a large quantity of friends but the jury is still out on whether or not those friends are of true quality. So in the end the disadvantage of being in this group would be the question of whether or not your friends are really your friends.

If someone was to place an individual under this label I feel that it would positively effect their life. Being placed under the popular label would open your life up to many opportunities and options for friends and relationship. Someone being labeled as "popular" is not seen as a bad thing, unlike those individuals who are labeled as a stoner which would have a negative effect in their social life.

Being in this group is highly desirable (I know because I wanted to be popular once a long time ago) and the students who are placed in this group are seen to have it all from a large group of friends, the best options for relationships, to the best clothes and shoes, and physically being nearly perfect. They're seen as the coolest people by the students from lower labels who want to be like their popular classmates.

Now that I've talked about the popular label it's time to talk about me, and what label others might put me in...

The group that I would say people put me in would probably be the honors/AP kids. The general expectations of this group would be that these students must be very smart in a lot of school subjects and are very studious and work extremely hard when it comes to their academics. Since these students are in honors or an AP class they are very smart and clearly have a strong work ethic and care about school because they care about not only their grades at the time but their academic future beyond high school. To an extent I meet these expectations, some subjects in school, like math, aren't my best and so I don't take honors classes of those because I'm not very strong in those areas. Though I might not thrive in all subjects I still do work very hard in all my classes, like my honors class and in my auditioned class.

Throughout my life I've always been told that my academics come first and over time that repetition of that phrase really built a firm dedication to my school work. I work really hard to achieve the grades that I do and so I spend a lot of time on homework or studying and though I may lose sleep over due to being up all hours of the night it is starting to pay off. I'm at that point in the college application process where I'm hearing back from schools and I'm being offered large scholarships from the colleges I've been accepted to and even being asked to be a part of their honors program and those that loss of sleep and determination to be a strong student is really starting to show my effort was worth it.

Being placed under this label I do feel pressure from my teachers and family because I'm seen as a good and strong student so the expectation of performing well in school is definitely always there with me. Being put under this label the expectation is definitely not for me to be bad or exhibit delinquent behavior but I'm expected to always to good and have good grades and it's just sometimes a heavy load because I have this norm that I'm used to achieving that sits like a parrot on my shoulder reminding me of whats expected.

In the end, I don't need any label to define me because I am who I am and I'm happy with my life and those I surround myself with and what I've achieved so far!

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