Thursday, October 16, 2014

Poor Little Rich Girls

Looking through blog post drafts that never made it, I came across these two quotes from 2013 a Psychology Today article:

But there are double standards based on gender. Particularly distressing are the double standards about physical appearance: Peers place an enormous emphasis on attractiveness among affluent girls. Across the board, the more attractive kids— boys or girls, rich or poor—are more likely to be most popular with their peers. But for girls of high socioeconomic status, the onus on being attractive is incredibly high. In our research, we have found that links between peer admiration and beauty were almost twice as strong among affluent girls as compared with affluent boys, and also compared with inner-city girls and boys. Looking "like a scrub" is simply not acceptable for well-off young women.

The enormous pressures that girls face from the peer group are matched by the impossibly high demands from adults to succeed in domains that are traditionally male, such as academics and sports, and also in the "feminine" domains of caring and kindness. They must not only be highly accomplished but also polite and likable, and they are expected to master the competing demands without any display of visible effort. Daughters of the rich, therefore, strive for effortless perfection—which is not merely challenging to their well-being but ultimately soul-draining.
Enter envy. My colleagues and I recently found that, compared to inner-city counterparts, students at elite, upper-middle-class schools, especially girls, experienced significantly more envy of peers who they felt surpassed them in popularity, attractiveness, academics, and sports.

At the same time, the intense push for superachievement deprives affluent adolescents of one of the critical safety valves of life—the deep social connectedness of friendship. The very path they take for success inhibits the development of intimacy. The durability, sustainability, and strength of relationships are constantly threatened by competition for highly sought-after goals. There's only one valedictorian. How can two people be friends if the self-worth of both depends on being the one chosen for a sought-after goal? One's gain is the other's loss.
 It reminds me of a recent Pacific Standard article that's been sitting open in my tabs: Savor Extraordinary Experiences, Feel Worse Afterward. "Harvard researchers find painful feelings of social exclusion are the unexpected price one pays for having amazing adventures."


Gina said...

Remembering the popular girls in high school, they were physically attractive, wealthy parents, and hid their intelligence to a certain extent. Being a geek or nerd was repulsive to them. Wish I knew how they turned out now.

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Wow, this opens a new line of thinking about a young girl I know who was rejected (and thought to be lying) by classmates at a new high school. Now 20, she has never really recovered.