I'm Afraid My Kid is... Popular


Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: Last week, my daughter was elected student body president of her elementary school. She had to make a poster and give a speech in front of several hundred students, who then voted. There were seven terrific candidates (well, at first there were eight, but one got booted from the race upon the discovery that there had been promises of Silly Bandz in exchange for votes ...). She ran against two of her good friends.

Frankly, I was surprised she won. The other posters and speeches were excellent, and I can't even remember the last time a girl won the coveted title. When I told a friend of her victory, she responded, "Wow, how does it feel to have a popular kid?" Instantly, I denied it. "She's such a good girl, such a nice girl, so pleasant to everyone and so respectful ... how could she be popular?" But when I got home, I looked up the word "popular," and the first definition was: "regarded with favor, approval or affection by people in general." That actually describes her perfectly. 

So here's my question: Why does being popular now carry such negative connotations? Is it because "popular" kids abuse their power? Or because they became popular for the wrong reasons? Why do we now think of "popular" as another word for "mean"? 

I think I know why my daughter was elected. She's never met an activity or club she didn't like, so she knows a lot of people. She is friendly, helpful and hardworking. So people know her, like her and trust her to do a good job. If that makes her popular, so be it. I'll just have to live with it.


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