Maryland Girls Fight “Ranking System” Based on Looks

Remember the “Burn Book” in Mean Girls? Or lists of the “best” and “worst” girls at school from films that everyone feared would become reality? The unfortunate truth is that they are much more common than people may think. Just a few feet outside of Washington D.C. in the city of Bethesda, Maryland, a group of senior girls uncovered a list that ranked a bunch of them solely based on looks. Bethesda-Chevy Chase (B-CC) High School is a rather prestigious public school in the area, consistently ranking upon the best high schools in the state, even attaining the top spot in 2011. Contrary to the incidents in film where these lists are started among “dumb girls” or those who don’t rank very highly in their class, the B-CC High School list ranked 18 girls in the school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

The list ranked girls between 5.5 and 9.4, where 9.4 represented the “prettiest” of the girls. Nicky Schmidt, one of those on the list, was informed by a close male friend when she decided to take a stand. She texted a group of girls to meet administration in the office later in the day, which they believed was going to put a stop to it.

As if the list itself wasn’t controversial enough, the way the school decided to punish those involved was even more questionable. While it was undoubtedly an instance of bullying, since the girls on the list were hurt, the school seems to have not treated it right compared to other bullying-related incidents. Only one student was disciplined formally, receiving a single day of in-school detention. Rather than being suspended, threatened with expulsion or criminally prosecuted like other instances of bullying could warrant, he got the slightest of punishments.

Courtesy of The Washington Post

During a meeting with 80 students, the majority of those being on the list or have friends on it, the student who started the list apologized. An apology was not enough to repair the emotional wounds caused by his list, though. Yasmin Behbehani, a senior, said that “[girls] could no longer stand idly by in a ‘boys will be boys’ culture.” The incident didn’t dissipate in the hands of the school, however, reaching The Washington Post and numerous other news outlets where the girls were praised for the way they handled the situation. Behbehani, who according to The Washington Post, “had spent the past four years recovering from an eating disorder, working hard to avoid comparing herself with others,” found herself on the list. Insider reported that according to a senior, “50 boys had maintained and circulated the list for a year before a female student noticed it on an open laptop.”

While the students might not agree with the punishment given by the school, they took their own stand to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again. In “girl power at its finest” as worded by Insider, groups were founded at the school to prevent bullying, toxicity and harassment at all levels at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.