At almost 19 years old, it makes me infuriated that stereotypes are still alive and well. Back in junior high and high school, almost all of the movies or tv shows I watched had them and, back then, I thought it made the plot interesting (I mean look at the success of Mean Girls and Glee over the 21st century!). However, I am not thanking my guilty pleasures for taking these stereotypes and enabling to become a reality.
I actually hate stereotypes. Why, you ask? We are being shown fictional plot-lines and actors who portray fictional characters. In high school we, unfortunately, did have the populars, the football players, the brains, the loners, and the people who were not acknowledged for even the slightest bit of their existence. But, why do we have to stereotype? Who is making these people into puppets which bring down our image; who sets these high expectations of who we are and how we should treat others?
What would happen if you were the loner instead of the popular cheerleader? What would happen if you were the brain and the jock? Well, I'm not one to tell you what to do, but I can attempt to persuade you. You would experience a big wake-up call. You would see how those who are stereotypically above all treat the lower class, or how the lower class looks up to the higher class.
I was typically shy and belonged to a stereotypical group in high school, known as choir kids. I lived and saw these stereotypes every day since elementary school, and decided to stay within a group that pursued and shared common interests with me. It is surprising how being exposed to stereotypes at a young age can influence how we act as we get older.
Back to high school, those stereotypes called out others, talked smack behind their backs, and faked their way in and out of friend groups, parties, activities, and classes just to gain that acceptance. It is not necessarily a bad thing to feel socially accepted, however, becoming something you're not in order to fill a stereotypical role is unhealthy. Just because a girl is skinny does not mean she is anorexic, and just because a guy dresses nicely does not mean he is gay.
People are so excited to graduate from high school to get away from those stereotypes, but really mean only to improve their current stereotypes. When I see people give others attitudes, talk unnecessary crap, or start childish drama, it baffles me. I am in college, but still have to put up with people's internal stereotype.
For me, I wished for college to be a fresh start away from those stereotypes, and, in a complex way, it is. You probably have heard your parents and close friends since childhood encourage you to just "be yourself" and, today, those two words are all I need to get me by.
College is what you make of it, and I am thankful I chose a school that was exactly what I wanted and needed. Sure, I still run in and out of friend groups because somebody says unnecessary crap about another person, but at least I am able to talk to others who probably wouldn't have accepted me in high school because of the stereotypes.
Overall, I do not understand why our favorite movies and tv shows project these social standards, because they are fictional, but what about those documentaries on Netflix that show us the more serious effects that stereotypes and even bullying can have on us? A couple of my personal favorites on Netflix are Cyberbully, A Girl Like Her, and, of course, Mean Girls. I mean, Lindsay Lohan plays an international student coming into a high school with societal standards and stereotypes. Of course, she does befriend the so-called "art freaks." She also decides to befriend the popular girls, known as the "plastics" in order to get back at them for her "art freak" friends who have been bullied by the "plastics". However, she begins to transform into one of them because she notices their behaviors and how they treat others and feels that is more acceptable to fit in. Moral of the story: she becomes and acts like something she is not for the sake of social acceptance in that high school. Of course, that movie will always be entertaining to watch, but it also causes problems.
We are expected to treat others in a way that is not right for our health and emotions. Sadly, it progresses into adulthood out of jealousy, hatred, selfishness, and the need to fit into a social group. My question to everyone is, whether you are a freshman in high school or an adult starting your first full-time job, "Can you try to be nice to everyone and not conform to society's 'needs?'" Facing the fact that these are not exactly needs (hence the quotes) is the first step because you get thrown into escaping the stereotypes.
Cheerleaders do not need to get jocks, because they are both athletes; not all people are interested in that type of man or woman. Just as a group of employees do not need to treat the new person in training as an idiot or an outsider. They can learn to accept the differences, and help the new person learn the norms of the job, not the social group or stereotype.
People go to college to do what they want to do. People pursue a dream job because it is what they want to do, and people treat others the way they want to be treated. My overall point I wish to get across is that we must stop these stereotypes. Stop the societal "need" to label people. Stop treating others like crap. Stop judging books by their covers, and stop projecting a negative image on yourself because of the social group you think you fall into. Most of my readers, who are adults, should think about how mature and happy they really are with or without a label.
I challenge everyone to talk to someone you have never talked to before and to create your own stereotype. Create a universal stereotype that being nice to all is better than filling in gaps, because some people do not have the maturity to escape negative words or actions. Empathize with others, and think about how you want to be treated; if people still treat you like crap, the best advice I can give you is to "kill 'em with kindness" or ignore them if you have nothing good to say. Stop stereotypes. Stop negative images and actions, and stop creating false requirements for society.