On the first day of my first year of high school, I picked out the perfect outfit, although it didn't come easy. My mind was filled with questions: What top should I wear, what shoes? Should I wear earrings or maybe a necklace? Do I really need to bring a pencil box full of multi-colored pens? I asked myself a billion things, sure that I was about to embark on the first day of my real life, full of best friends, dating, drama, class pranks, bonding, and parties. Pretty much everything I had ever seen in a '90s or early '00 teen movie was about to happen, but in my life.
Of course, when I actually started high school, I quickly realized that my life would make a pretty boring film. I didn't embarrass myself on the first day, none of the girls were wearing heels, and I didn't get asked out by the quarterback. My school didn't even have a football team! And those were only a few of the things that all the teen movies I'd seen got wrong about high school.
Disappointed as I was that I wouldn't get to live out my fantasy of being the heroine in a teen movie (what do you mean the most popular boy in school won't fall in love with me via IM?), I eventually became grateful for it. Because none of my classmates — not the popular girls, not the nerds — ever had lives like the teens in those movies. It just doesn't happen. For anyone. With that in mind, I have rounded up the 11 biggest lies '90s and '00s movies told us all about being a teen in high school.
1. Being A Virgin Isn't Cool
Movies like American Pie suggest that you can't finish high school a virgin. If you do, then you're a nerd sentenced to a lifetime of loneliness and uncoolness. By Hollywood's standards, being a virgin is, essentially, akin to being an adolescent leper. This is absolutely not true. The truth is, most people aren't going to care whether or not you're having sex. In fact, they probably won't even know.
2. All Your Problems Can Be Solved By A Good Makeover
Movie makeovers are a staple in teen movies — think Clueless , The Princess Diaries and She's All That . Normally in a film, after the girl (or guy, but usually girl) gets a makeover, her life changes completely. All of a sudden she's desirable and gets everything she ever wanted. Yet as nice as getting a makeover is, it won't get you everything you want. Not in high school, and certainly not after.
3. Your Teachers Will Give You Good Grades If You Ask Nicely Enough
OK, so this isn't exactly a teen movie trope. It's really only in Clueless. But it was a popular enough lie — that teachers might be swayed to raise your grades by a persuasive argument — that it's worth mentioning. Sorry, but that's not how it works.
4. Prom Is All That And A Bag Of Chips
Prom: the be all and end all in many teen movies. Films like Drive Me Crazy would have you believe that your entire high school life culminates in the prom, but that's just ridiculous. The event is fun, yes, but every year there are plenty of people who don't go, and they all turn out OK.
5. Everybody Will Break Out Into Song
This one makes me a little sad, but unless you're actually in your High School Musical or a chorus group, people won't be bursting into song every time they see a cute girl or get pressured on the basketball court.
6. Cheerleaders Are The Queen Bees
If you believe teen movies like Bring It On, cheerleaders are at the top of the high school food chain. In actuality, cheerleading is not that big of a deal. I don't care if Kendall Jenner did it — cheerleaders just don't rule the school. They aren't even at every school!
7. Your Best Friend Will Probably Fall In Love With You
As much as you wish that your male or female BFF might fall in love with you just like Gordo fell in love with Lizzie in The Lizzie McGuire Movie, the odds are that it's not going to happen. (Trust me, I know.) It's OK though, as having a good best friend is never a bad thing.
8. So. Many. House Parties.
Call me boring, but house parties just weren't my thing in high school. Not everyone goes to parties, and, even if they do, not every house party ends with complete and utter insanity. Don't be worried if you never see an event like those in Superbad or Can't Hardly Wait.
9. Mean Girls Will Plan Your Social Demise
A lot of iconic teen movies, like She's All That, have mean girls who purposefully plan to humiliate a less popular girl. Yes, there are cruel people out there, especially in high school, but that sort of planned public humiliation is just plain evil and, thankfully, not too realistic.
10. That Rebellious Hottie Totally Has A Heart Of Gold
The hot guy that sits in the back of your biology lab brooding might not be a puppy on the inside. Just a warning: not every bad boy is Heath Ledger from 10 Things I Hate About You.
11. Female Friendships Are Always Catty
Contrary to what Mean Girls might lead some to believe, girls can be friends without being mean to each other. Big groups of girlfriends can stand the test of time and last throughout the four years of high school without having any major feuds. That said, sometimes friends have falling outs, but that doesn't mean they declare war on each other like they do in the movies.
So next time you watch a teen movie, try to remember that it's only entertainment, not a roadmap to your own high school experience.