Esther and Colby are two of the amazing girls at Newton North High School here in this affluent suburb just outside Boston. “Amazing girls” translation: Girls by the dozen who are high achieving, ambitious and confident (if not immune to the usual adolescent insecurities and meltdowns.) Girls who do everything: Varsity sports. Student government. Theater. Community service. Girls who have grown up learning they can do anything a boy can do, which is anything they want to do.Well, of course, the harder people compete, the harder it is to win. Was there some kind of idea before that you could come out on top because most other kids wouldn't try too hard?
But being an amazing girl often doesn’t feel like enough these days when you’re competing with all the other amazing girls around the country who are applying to the same elite colleges that you have been encouraged to aspire to practically all your life.
And, for all their accomplishments and ambitions, the amazing girls, as their teachers and classmates call them, are not immune to the third message: While it is now cool to be smart, it is not enough to be smart.This is new?
You still have to be pretty, thin and, as one of Esther’s classmates, Kat Jiang, a go-to stage manager for student theater who has a perfect 2400 score on her SATs, wrote in an e-mail message, “It’s out of style to admit it, but it is more important to be hot than smart.”
“Effortlessly hot,” Kat added.
These students are aware that because more girls apply to college than boys, amid concerns about gender balance, boys may have an edge at some small selective colleges.Now, this is new. This affirmative action for boys. Somehow, the boys as a group have held back from the all-out competition that makes it harder for everyone, and the two groups are judged separately, otherwise the sexes will be all out of balance at college, and that will only make the quest for love all that much more difficult for girls. It's hard to think how effortlessly hot you'd need to be. But with less successful, less competitive boys admitted to supply the desired balanced, these ultra-amazing girls will have access to boyfriends, mismatched boyfriends.
Oh, the woes of the young, high-achieving woman!