Teenage Nightmare: The Effect of Cliques and Peer Pressure

The duty of friends is to accept each others faults and strengths without judgment. Friendships should be based on trust and honesty, like any other relationship. So why is the pressure to fit in so extreme in society? If friends were so approving of one another then peer pressure and the need to belong would not exist. Perhaps the ones teenagers feel the need to impress are not actually friends at all but rather people who are appealing, such as the popular crowd in a high school setting.  While it is not impossible to find a good group of accepting people to be silly and unguarded with, a lot of young people choose to change their appearance or behavior in order to gain attention from the masses, or simply to gain approval.

Al Desseta’s book The Courage to Be Yourself: True Stories by Teens about Cliques, Conflicts, and Overcoming Peer Pressure, explains how teenagers believe “the smartest, most beautiful, and most athletic kids are considered the best”. Magazines, television shows, movies, and music on the radio glorify thin bodies, perfect hair, athleticism, and wealth, and teenagers strive for all of these things in order to seek the approval of friends and people of the same age.

Peer pressure and cliques go hand in hand with one another, because teenagers are going to follow what friends are doing. Whether it is drinking and drugs or throwing up after every meal, the influence of cliques can be detrimental.  Teenagers have been hospitalized and have even died from binge drinking and eating disorders that were brought on by hazing in fraternities and sororities, bullying, and peer pressure within cliques.

Pop culture has recognized the dangers and charms of the clique system and has capitalized on the idea through numerous movies and television shows. Mean Girls and The Clique are examples of movies that address the negative impact of cliques on high school aged kids.  Both follow almost the exact plot line about a girl who moves into town and must go to a new school where she has trouble fitting in. The main character then proceeds to become one of “the clique” or, in Mean Girls case, “the plastics”.   The girl then realizes how much popularity has changed her attitude and behavior and both stories end with everyone coming together to be friends. Happily ever after is not ideal in a real high school, but both movies are good examples of what teenage girls, and boys, go through to fit in with peers.

Being a teenager in today’s society is very different and yet it is also very much the same as it was for the older generation. Technology that is supposed to make living easier has managed to make living harder as well. Fashions and fads become obsolete the moment they are released to the public, because the newer, better things are always on the rise. Cliques and peer pressure have become dangerous and more destructive because with all of the new technology and products, there are now more reasons to tell someone they are wrong, not good enough and not cool or pretty enough. There will always be similarities between the past and present, and society expects perfection and the teenage generation is beginning to expect the same from themselves and their peers. Being a teenager in any time, society, or century is hard, but the 21st century and the centuries to come may be some of the most difficult.


  1. truly insightful

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