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Why Pretty Girls Get Bullied

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Why Pretty Girls Get Bullied
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   Verified by Psychology Today Find a Therapist (City or Zip) Frank T. McAndrew Ph.D. Out of the Ooze Source: Phoebe Prince/Wikimedia Commons Why Pretty Girls Get Bullied Being attractive can be a mixed blessing for girls Posted Apr 22, 2018 SHARETWEETEMAILMORE On January 14, 2010, 15-year-oldPhoebe Prince hanged herself inher family’s apartment in SouthHadley, Massachusetts, following arelentless campaign of taunting,gossip, and bullying by other teensat her high school. Phoebe’s bodywas discovered by her 12-year-oldsister, and one of her last textmessages began with the phrase “ I can’t take much more  .”Phoebe was a pretty girl who had moved to South Hadley from Ireland a littlemore than a year before her death. The bullying began after she had a brief romantic fling with the boyfriend of one of her principle tormentors. The fiveteenagers who orchestrated the persecution of Phoebe were eventuallyconvicted on charges of criminal harassment and sentenced to probation andcommunity service.The most consistent flavor of the insults hurled at her was that she was a “slut”and an “Irish whore.” As it turns out, a woman’s looks and her reputation for      sexual fidelity are prime targets for women engaged in competition with eachother for romantic partners.Unfortunately, the tragic story of Phoebe Prince is not an isolated incident. Fifteen-year-old Cora Delille of Ohio killed herself in exactly the same wayfollowing an almost identical campaign of gossip and harassment in 2014, and in2017, 10-year-old Ashwanty Davis hanged herself in her Colorado home afterbeing bullied for weeks. Only a few weeks after the death of Ashwanty, 13-year-old Rosalie Avila suffered the same fate in California - suicide by hanging afterbeing ostracized, gossiped about, and bullied. “Mean Girls” Are More than Just a Stereotype It has been well established that men are more physically aggressive thanwomen . However, women are much more likely to engage in what is calledindirect “relational” aggression  and gossip is the weapon of choice  in thefemale arsenal. Consequently, women are more likely than men to sociallyostracize others, and this sex difference shows up as early as the age of six . Blogger Danielle Herzog  related her anguish upon hearing about the “meangirls” in her daughter’s kindergarten class. According to her daughter, the meangirls would tell her that she was ugly and exclude her from games because “ they didn’t like her clothes  .” Herzog’s anguish eventually turned to embarrassmentwhen her own mother reminded her that she had made one of her best friendscry in 1st grade by telling her that she would only be her friend on Mondays,Wednesdays, and Fridays because “ she was not important enough to be all five days  .”      The motivation for relational aggression can be as trivial as simple boredom, butit more often transpires in retaliation for perceived slights, envy over physicalappearance, or romantic competition . Beauty in One Woman Can Bring Out the Beast in Others The fact that highly attractive adolescent girls such as Phoebe Prince are atgreater risk for victimization is consistent with the notion that mate competition isthe motive for such behavior.Women are all too aware of how easily men are drawn to physically attractivefemales, so it makes sense that they are the ones who will most often have theirreputations savaged through gossip as a way of making them seem lessdesirable as girlfriends, and preventing them from establishing a network of friends and allies can keep them socially powerless. In one junior high school ,two girls circulated a petition after a cute new girl moved in. The petition wassigned by boys who promised that they would “ never go out with the Megawhore  .”If all else fails, direct physical intimidation can also be used to make pretty girlsafraid of turning their beauty to their own mating advantage. Recently, fourRussian girls uploaded a video  of them forcing another girl to drink from a mudpuddle because she was “too pretty.”Less attractive women may also be bullied, of course, but usually for otherreasons. If a girl is not perceived as serious competition in the mating market,      she is more likely to simply be ignored than she is to be bullied, as she will beperceived as not being worth talking about. A forthcoming study  by social psychologist Tania Reynolds  and her colleaguesconfirms that women are more likely to spread malicious gossip about otherwomen who are either attractive or who dress provocatively – in other words,women who might distract the attention of men away from the gossipersthemselves. The fact that the girls who bully attractive girls are at leastmoderately attractive themselves is no coincidence – it is a reflection of thebully’s recognition that she is likely to be in competition for the same romanticpartners as the targets of her aggression. Dr. Gail Gross  is a psychologist and an internationally recognized expert onbullying. She summarized the relationship  between being attractive and beingbullied as follows:" It is important to note that not only are the weak targeted, but often a girl that is considered to be too pretty, too smart, too nice and therefore making the other girls feel inferior. In fact, bullies may describe a target as “too full of herself.” And,because of the competition and striving for popularity as well as positions of power, peer groups may form alliances to cast out and isolate the offending girl  ."There are endless examples of physically attractive girls being bullied by othergirls, and parents regularly share stories on social media about their daughtersbeing bullied because they are pretty. One North Shore Chicago mother  of a girlwho did professional modeling spoke of the frequency with which her daughterhas been told she is ugly and that she should kill herself, and Swedish   Source: Female bully from the 1917 silent film"rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm"/Wikimedia Commons SHARETWEETEMAILMORE supermodel Paulina Porizkova was bulliedmercilessly throughout her childhood. Model/actress Brittany Mason, who was aformer “Miss Indiana,” even thoughtabout killing herself   to escape the gossipand bullying of her peers. For example, ata homecoming rally at her high school, agroup of her rivals created a poster withher picture on it and waved it around whilechanting “You are Ugly.”Regardless of the trigger for relationalaggression, the goal  is almost always to exclude competitors from one’s socialgroup and to damage their ability to maintain a reliable social network of theirown.As it turns out, this is a highly effective way of hurting other women . Becausewomen invest more in building friendship networks, the disruption of thesenetworks and other social connections is all the more crushing.So, beauty can be a curse as well as a blessing – it bestows undeniableadvantages on those who possess it, but also paints a target squarely on theirbacks. 6 COMMENTS
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