Written by Devin Miller, Relate Contributing Writer
The popular movie “Mean Girls” introduced us to the Plastics, a group of life-sized barbies led by their queen bee, Regina George. While this inseparable clique ruled the school, other groups navigated their way through halls of North Shore High. As Janis Ian put it, “You got your freshmen, ROTC guys, preps, J.V. jocks…” The list goes on and on, ending with the warning, “…and the worst. Beware of plastics.”
Although we cannot help but laugh at the outrageous happenings within the walls of this fictional high school, many of us will secretly admit that our high school is slightly resembled in the comical plot. While being interviewed about the movie Tina Fey explained, “Adults find it funny. They are the ones who are laughing. Young people watch it like a reality television show. It is much too close to their real experiences, so they are not exactly guffawing.”
The formation of groups in high school is nearly inevitable. It is only natural for students to bond with people with similar interests and aspirations. In an interview with PBS, Dr. Katie Gentile gives some support to the formation of such groups saying, “…have the safety of a group that can really be like a family, and this is going towards a group that enhances growth, where you feel secure enough to take risks with who you are.”
These groups can go “bad” quickly, turning into a clique that limits membership to those that fit their requirements. These requirements can be everything from the “right” clothes to perfect grades. Hundreds of girls fall victim to trying to keep up their appearance in order to remain a member of their clique.
In an article from the National PTA showing the negative effects of cliques, a mother from Chicago describes how her sixth-grade daughter cries herself to sleep almost every night, fearing that she won’t look right at school the next day and lose her place within her group of so-called friends.
The truth is, cliques can be defeated! Just because you may have a group of close friends doesn’t mean you can’t hang out with other people. This idea often takes over when students enter college as wide-eyed freshmen.
“College is an opportunity to get past having to deal with the ‘cool crowd’ and begin to figure out who you really are and what kind of people you value as friends,” Katharine Patten said in Boston College’s newspaper, The Heights. “[College is] a challenge and part of that challenge is finding yourself as an individual, rather than just a member who fits into a larger group.”
The best way to steer clear of cliques is to get to know as many people as possible. During lunch time, venture to another table and introduce yourself. By meeting new people, you may create life-long friendships that would have never formed had you chickened out and stayed put!
Taking small steps like this will help to put an end to “members-only” cliques.