Three Distinct Types of Popularity in Teens

Student Life

High school is a major part of all our lives. It is often the time in our lives that shapes the course of our future; what jobs we do, what kind of future we have, who our friends are. In our journey to becoming adults, we can face many challenges in the forms of friendships, perhaps romantic relationships and just general school life as we prepare for the next big journey of our lives whether it be university, apprenticeships or going straight to work.

It is no wonder then, that such a formative part of everyone's lives is frequently portrayed in the media whether it be in movies, tv shows or books. It can be a highly entertaining and dramatic topic to explore. One distinct and common feature in the 'high school teen genre' are cliques. It is what almost defines the genre (ignoring the relationship drama, friendship issues and teen angst people also expect). From the freaks, geeks, nerds and of course the populars, I'm sure everyone knows the infamous groupings of high school. But, it must also be said that you cannot indefinitely catagorize everyobody as the same in each clique.

But, although overly dramatized, these high school cliques are based on real life. These cliques can definitely be identified in most high school even if they aren't as distinctive. It is also widely known that popularity is very important to teens, especially in school life.

So how many types of popularity are there in high school (or that we can see in books, movies and tv)?

1. The 'mean' popular

We all know the type. The most famous example being Regina George from 'Mean Girls' (2004), this type of popular is generally rich, snobby, and has their own posse of underlings lapping up their orders. They normally rule high school with their 'above it all' attitude and mean pranks on younger and 'lesser' students. They have gained their popularity through aggressive and coercive behaviour - rule the school with fear. It is commonly the protagonist's job to overthrow this character and this character is more often than not the main 'villain' of the high school story.

2. The 'nice' popular

The 'nice', prosocial popular has not gained her popularity through aggressive behaviour but rather cooperative behaviour. They try to help everybody when they can and don't torment other students with their power. They don't rule with fear but are well-liked. Students want to either be them or get with them- they don't have many enemies and high school is the sweet life. They are normally the protagonist of the story and everyone's favourite character!

3. The 'mixture' popular

The 'mixture' popular have gained their standing as they are 'feared' and 'liked'. They can be aggressive when needed and then quickly “make nice” to smooth out any hurt feelings. They maintain popularity by offsetting the coercive behavior required to maintain power with carefully calibrated acts of kindness. They balance getting their way with getting along.

So, can you identify these types of populars in your school? Are you one of these kinds of popular?

Purba Audhora
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Purba Audhora is a high school student from the UK. She enjoys singing, playing the piano and violin, reading, writing, playing chess, watching movies and hanging out with friends and her twin sister. Purba is excited to share her ideas through writing and hopes that you enjoy her articles!