As a school girl I have had firsthand experience of the casual stereotyping that goes on in a school, especially in secondary education. There are social separations in a school as much as there are in any other part of society, although a combination of hormones and close quarters make the different “groups” seem so much more pronounced. The way a girl applies make-up, or whether a boy prefers video games to football can shift their social status dramatically and can get them labelled as certain things, often with little or no basis on actual character. So to start with, I am going to have a look at some of these stereotypes and see just how accurate they can be for people
The one I’m going to start with is my own label - Geek. Personally I am (finally) quite proud of this label as it means I’m going to be laughing my way up to Cambridge whilst they could be stuck in Tesco’s. It can however, be a highly demeaning title and is often cast on people unfairly. Most people see a typical Geek as someone with thick glasses, all their homework done on time and quite often a teacher’s pet. These days however, anyone playing a game such as World of Warcraft is labelled a geek, whilst playing Black Ops (I shudder to say the name) is considered socially acceptable. Even among the Geeks there are judgemental attitudes, a Runescape player for example, is considered lower than low! Having a respect for teachers and being able to dress oneself in the morning is still acceptable criteria for being a Geek though if anyone is looking to join!
After Geeks in the social food chain we have the Emo’s. Dare to have black hair? You’re an Emo. Got a few perfectly innocent scratches on your arm? You’re an Emo. Caught crying, or feeling miserable? You’re an Emo. And the list goes on. Fortunately, once the scratches have healed and the tears have dried you might - just might - be accepted into “normal” society again. If the black hair is here to stay however, well good luck is all I can say! As you might have gathered by the tone of those few sentences, I find the criteria for being judged an Emo highly insensitive and annoying, especially as it is, once again extremely unfair. Also you are more likely to find that many people who call themselves Emo’s are doing it for the melodramatic feeling, the fashion code or merely wanting to belong. Those who are truly emotional are often very good at hiding it.
Talking about fashion sense next we have the Goths! Goths and Emo’s are often confused as the same thing, due to their mutual tendency to prefer black clothing. A Goth however, will usually be highly offended at being dubbed an Emo and indeed to two are actually quite dissimilar. Goths can actually be cheerful and friendly just with a preference to darker clothing and loud, heavy music. Whereas an Emo might prefer dusty black clothing and not really care much about their appearance, the same cannot be said about a Goth. They will often spend a considerable amount of time and money on carefully applied make-up, clothing and accessories and making sure they look right.
Next on the list - the Fashionista’s. This group is as the name suggests, always on top of the latest fashion. They can spend hours discussing a new top, Cheryl Cole’s latest handbag or the advantages of Primark over Topshop. Most of these types of conversation mystify me, as a Geek I just nod when appropriate! If I ever need make-up advice or an idea for an outfit I know exactly who to ask though "Fashionista Friend" advice has helped me out on many an occasion! Although there are similarities to a later group I will go over, they do not have so dramatic a reputation.
Penultimately, we have the sporty ones. I’m fairly certain you can guess by the name what kinds of people are put in this category! Personally, I have a great amount of respect for those in my tutor at least who play sport both for school and county, especially since my own condition means I am unable to participate in any sporting activity. Those in this group however, do have a frankly alarming tendency to play Call of Duty, a game which as a World of Warcraft player I despise due to its alarming habit of stealing fully geared level 85 players from my guild just in time for tonight’s dungeon. Anyway I digress - the people that seem to be put in this category often have close associations with both the previous category - Fashionistas and the final one, the most dramatic of all.
Last but never least, we have those rumoured by the ever turning gossip mill to be, shall we say -easy. Often described as “orange” and “fake”, these are the girls who have, according to that good old informant - rumour, been everywhere, done everything and defiantly have not got the t-shirt, unless it’s their eighteen year old hunk of a boyfriend’s! They give the air of being top of the world, and of using the Geeks, Emos and Goths as stepping stones to climb there. This isn’t always the case however, contrary to popular belief they are often just as insecure as any other teenager underneath the heavy make-up.
So, there you have it. The school cut up into the groups, with all the fighting, bitchiness, and “forbidden” friendships this entails. But really what’s the point? Every teenager, regardless of hair colour, music preferences, or fashion sense has the same issues to deal with and is the same underneath. Very rarely are the social groups accurate; the “easy” girl with the heavy make-up could be hiding low self-esteem, the fashionista who never talks and never cries might have family issues, and the Geek with the WoW account might adore any type of fashion magazine. Who knows? In the end of the day, does it really matter what “class” someone is in, if they are nice and friendly? In my opinion social stereotyping should be as firmly clamped down as bullying as it can cause just as many problems and divisions.