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THE PUBERTY PORTAL: My feelings are a mystery to me

Why Are Some People Popular?

view from the side only showing the torsos of two young girls walking with backpacks and school supplies

Popularity can be confusing because it is so hard to measure and because different things make people popular at different times. When kids are young, someone might be popular because she has really fun toys or brings good snacks to school but a few years later, it might be because she’s good at sports or really pretty (or both!). The hardest part about popularity is that sometimes it feels like people “deserve” to be popular and sometimes it really doesn’t.

Popularity is something that shifts and changes over time and some of the things that can make people popular are great characteristics like a good sense of humor, friendliness and creativity and some of the things are more superficial qualities like having cool clothes or a huge house or being attractive. It can be hard to see a person gain popularity because of how they look on the outside, and it’s downright confusing that putting other people down can help someone gain social influence. Seriously, how is she popular? She’s so mean to me! Why can’t anyone else see it?


When unkind people become popular, we can be left wondering: why do adults keep telling us to be kind when kindness doesn’t seem to help our social standing? Or why do our parents always say it doesn’t matter what we look like on the outside, when very clearly what we look like does matter to our peers? That’s the heart of what makes popularity so confusing — often the people who are most popular look or act in ways that conflict with what we’re hearing from the adults in our lives about what really matters. What do you wish made people popular?

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