For the June 3 cover story of Newsweek, writer Susannah Meadows returned to her former high school in El Cajon, California, to see how girls treat each other. She found that participation in church and youth group is a common trait for those who are confident and happy.
Her article, "Meet the Gamma Girls," comes in the wake of recent books that portray high schools as a mean, brutal world of teenage girl popularity. In Queen Bees & Wannabes, author Rosalind Wiseman breaks the high school social scale into two definitions: the "queen bees" and the "wannabes." The former are powerful popular girls who rule the school, while the latter are those who aggressively attempt to be the queen bee.
Washington Post writer Laura Sessions Stepp also recently picked up on the high school and middle school culture of queen bees and wannabes or "alphas" and "betas." She added a third category to the list: "gammas." Explains Meadows: "Gammas don't long to be invited to parties—they're too busy writing an opinion column in the school paper or surfing and horseback riding … [A gamma girl is] defined by what she does, rather than by her popularity rating."
The Newsweek piece profiles a handful of gammas who are independent, friendly, and emotionally healthy students active in sports, extracurricular activities, and their family lives. Gamma girls regularly attend youth group and their values "are bolstered by open discussion at church and a strong faith."
In ten years of working with Young Life, a national evangelistic ministry targeting high school students, Orlando area director O.J. Aldrich has seen the active pursuit of popularity actually decrease among high school girls. He attributes part of that success (as does the Newsweek article) to ...1