"... And the award for Miss Hot Legs goes to Jane Doe!"
I did not go to high school here in America, but I know that in secondary school in Nigeria, class award ceremonies were quite common. Or maybe I should say 'are' if they are still being held. A good deal of planning went into these award ceremonies (no, we did not dress up and wear evening gowns. School uniforms had to do), and at the end of the day, awards were given for all sorts of things.
I went to an all-girls' secondary school, which explains why each of the following examples of the award categories are 'Miss This' or 'Miss That':
- Miss Photogenic
- Miss Hot Legs
- Miss Ebony (for the darkest skinned girl)
- Miss Pretty / Beautiful
- Miss Bad Attitude
Those are the ones I can remember right now. You can add to the list if you can think of others. And yes, I made up # 5.
Now, looking at this list, which of these awards would you rather receive? I am pretty sure it is not # 5.
Granted the 'award' by fellow classmates was just two words scribbled on a piece of paper and pinned to your blouse. However, while a 'good award' might boost a student's self-esteem, the 'negative award' might do just the opposite.
I know this is not a Nigerian thing. There are enough 'high-school-themed' Hollywood movies revolving around this issue of students putting labels on their fellow classmates (or schoolmates sef). But the class awards make this labeling more formal. More obvious. It is not enough to imagine what people think of you. Now, they have announced that opinion not just to you, but to the rest of your peers.
I think these kinds of labels stick for life, unless the recipient is thick-skinned and has a healthy self-esteem. It also doesn't help that years after graduating from school, your now ex-classmates will still refer to you as that name/label they put on you all those years ago.
Hopefully, I have not confused you guys so far.
Your turn: What do you think about class awards and labeling your classmates? Let's hear it.