In the wake of the Tiger Woods scandal, we should all think about how to protect our reps and our street cred. This is an even harder task for high schoolers than it is for Tiger; 15-year-olds usually don’t have the luxury of locking themselves in their Florida mansions or paying off their girlfriends to say silent. You have to stand up for yourself! You need a plan and you need to spin and spit your own PR game. Because even though Tiger might not think it’s true, the hallways can be a lot more harsh than the tabloids.
Remember when everyone got wind that you kiss like a lizard? Or when a "friend" whispered to someone in class that you regularly cuddle with your grandma instead of sleeping in your own bed? Maybe she told them you wet the bed too? What about that time when word got out that you have a crush on the guy with the chiseled chin in your AP History class who knows everything about the French Revolution—and also happens to be your cousin? That was absolutely false! You totally prefer the nerd in your lit class with the purposely disheveled, vaguely RPatz hair. Duh!
Now, it’s time for some crisis management tips from an expert. Here are ways you can protect yourself from the wrath of gossip, and all the mean girls with mouths bigger than their UGG boots and designer sunglasses.
Meet the press
It’s true: You really messed up when you pantsed your friend Danny in homeroom. But he was being a cotton-headed ninny muggin and was ragging on you for still having no date to prom. Plus, he has huge ears and an abnormal obsession with emo poetry. So stop denying the incident. Get it all out in the open and have your publicist (maybe your brother who's a senior) arrange interviews with the local school paper to tell your side of the story. Consider holding an informal press conference during lunch. Slide a chair to the middle of the room and stand on it. Have a statement prepared and make sure to turn everything negative into a positive. After all, hasn’t everyone always wondered if Danny wears boxer or briefs? Now they all know the answer.
Duck and wait
Think about Jon Gosselin. Remember him? Ever since news broke about Tiger’s not so GRRRRREAT (get it, Frosted Flakes?) behavior, everyone seems to have forgotten about that diamond-earring-sporting, Ed-Hardy-wearing, famous-for-nothing-loser. Take comfort in the fact that next week, when word gets out that your high school’s best golfer happens to be a kleptomaniac at the local Claire’s, where he burgles his favorite dangly earrings, no one will remember you are a bed wetter. So relax. Have a warm cookie and chocolate milk from the cafeteria. This too shall pass. If you’re impatient, consider spreading a harmless rumor about the freshman girl’s basketball team. Just keep it clean.
Talk about things that really matter
Why do you think there are never any rumors about Bono? Because he helps everyone living in Africa, that’s why! So what if someone saw you eat a cookie you thought looked completely salvageable from the cafeteria’s garbage can? So what if that’s kind of repulsive? Remind people that there are bigger issues out there and that you know firsthand the pain of being hungry. Host a bake sale to raise awareness for the hungry to be ironic. Or maybe change the subject completely by protesting the unfair dress code at your school with a naked sit-in. Either way, do some good to get those naysayers off your back.
Put the rumors to bed
Are you mortified because everyone found out that you were going to ask out that cute blond girl in your anatomy class before you even got the chance? Perhaps you feel like everyone blew the big surprise (you were going to decorate her car in cut-out organs from your “Anatomy and You” textbook, writing “will you go to prom with me?” across the heart picture). Don’t let gossip ruin your plan—go through with it anyway. No one will be talkin’ smack once they see you slow dancing in the gym under a hodgepodge of paper mâché decorations.
How have you dealt with rumors?
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