n elementary school principal I once worked with said that if you ask a group of first grade girls who the best runner in the class is, they all point to themselves: I’m the best runner, they’ll say. Ask a group of sixth grade girls, she went on, and they’ll point to the best runner.
Ask a group of ninth grade girls, I thought to myself, and when they point out the fast girl, she’ll flinch and demur, saying, “No, I’m awful!” Pride, after all, is a cardinal sin in girls’ social culture. It’s a lesson they learn early and with ugly consequences. Act too confident and you’ll be isolated, called “conceited,” a “bitch,” a girl who “thinks she’s all that,” who’s “full of herself.”