Teenage herd animals

The latest turmoil from that swirling den of hormonal imbalances and petty power shifting otherwise known as the middle school…Dom bum bom. (That was ominous music at the end there in case you weren’t sure.)
At dinner the other night, my daughter was fervently ranting about the new fad gripping her classmates – coloring their hair with bright colors and gauging their ears. (For those of you who are not up on fashion, this is the practice of making the pierced holes in your ears bigger and bigger by gradually wearing larger diameter earrings.) Personally it’s not my thing but a lot of people like it.
Please understand that my daughter is not pleading and ranting because she wants to color her hair and gauge her ears. That is not what this is about. Over the past year my daughter has had several colors of hair including purple. However, I won’t let her gauge her ears until she is older.
The real issue here is that when my daughter colored her hair and expressed her individuality when no one else was doing it she was made fun of and called an Emo. My daughter has since gotten past her colorful stage an likes get hair brown again. Now everyone wants to color their hair blue or whatever and it’s suddenly cool. Needless to say this has angered my daughter. So I had to explain…
The human species is a herd animal a lot like a herd of cows. In a cow herd, the herd will chose a lead cow. It could be young or old. No one really knows how the lead cow is chosen, but the herd agrees and they follow that cow wherever it goes. Humans are much the same one person will think some thing is amazing and start doing it. Suddenly the whole herd (aka a group of people) will follow along and think this thing is amazing too. This is called a fad. It happens in all cultures.
The only difference at a middle school is that the lead teenager is not chosen by the herd but is self appointed and dominates the herd by personality and intimidation. The herd will follow this person out of fear of ridicule. This is known as “The mean girls effect”. I’m sure you’ve heard of the movie Mean Girls
However, there is a strange dynamic that happens in the middle school. Every once in a whole there will be an outcast that comes along who is the natural leader and has a personality that will not be dominated. This leader is a trend setter ahead of their time who’s sense of individuality inspires other and is nice enough not to try and force others to do what she wants them to but instead encourages others to seek out their own happy place and be themselves. This angers the self appointed leader…and the bullying begins.
To keep their position as leader by fear the teen must force others to tease and hate on the natural leader. It is inevitable. The secret to getting past this is the parents of the natural leader must instill a grounded sense of self in their child and reassure them that their individuality is indeed the better quality. Thinking outside that bubble of intimidation is what makes culture move forward in a positive way instead of stagnating in fear dominated ignorance.
To this explanation my daughter thanked me for raising her outside the bubble. It’s fine to be a herd animal but not if the herd follows a fool of a cliff.

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