In terms of globalization, we regularly meet new people and encounter unknown life situations. It is impossible to study all of them from scratch every time, so very often, we rely on stereotypes. Even trying to avoid this, we tend to judge people and make hasty generalizations unconsciously. For instance, we might understand that an approaching black man in baggy clothes is not going to rob us, but we unknowingly become alerted. In public transport, we would rather sit next to a well dressed and groomed man, thinking that he is a gallant gentleman, than next to an old man who might appear grumpy. These are results of stereotypes which abound in our world.
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It is easier to produce a stereotype about people who have some distinctive features. Thus, the most popular stereotypes concern people’s skin or hair color, their clothes, language or other characteristics, which could be identified as long as you see a person for the first time. Therefore, one usual stereotype experienced by me concerns people belonging to subcultures. In fact, all representatives of a particular subculture share some common features, like their style, believes, music they listen to, etc. However, very often, it can be exaggerated. Young men and women who call themselves Goths are not an exception. When talking about the representatives of Gothic movement, most people see a clear picture before their eyes – a boy or a girl with greasy jet black hair, wearing black eye and lips makeup and even blacker leather clothes, their skin deathly pale and face pierced. They spend their nights at cemeteries practicing magic and are always depressed. This is a generally accepted image of Goths; we see them this way in the movies, read about them in books, and in most cases, no one questions the truthfulness of the given information. Neither did me until a year ago on a trip home I set next to a man who happened to be a Goth. We began a conversation during which it turned out that Goths are no way near the description. Firstly, as he explained me, being Goth means sharing particular believes and ideas on the first place and this does not entail wearing black clothes. Secondly, people of the culture appreciate spiritual values; they are fond of philosophy, religion and mysticism, which may help them gain insight into their lives, there is no connection with magic and Satanism. Finally, the man confessed that Goths, indeed, may be depressed every so often due to some emotional experience, but this happens to all of us. Stereotypes and biases negatively influence the subculture. Usually, there appear to be many young people who follow the general conception of Goths but not the true believes of the subculture. This all leads to the culture’s degradation and creates a bad idea about Goths among other people. Additionally, if you prefer wearing black, you may be mistaken for Goths and treated in that way.
Another group of people who became a target for stereotyping are women with light hair. Blondes are prejudiced all over the world, and it does not matter if their hair color is natural or not. The image of a “dumb blonde” is widely exploited in jokes and show business. They are perceived as vulnerable women who use their beauty more often than their intelligence. It is a well-known fact that there is no correlation between hair color and intellectual abilities, though. I used to be among those who accepted the stereotype, but recently a friend of mine started dating a blonde girl, and I had a chance to see myself how absurd the biases were. The stereotypes have a negative impact both on blondes and women with different hair color. As ridiculous as it can be, blondes may face damaged career prospects, because their employers question their intelligence and professional skills. They are supposed to work as secretaries, receptionists or models. On the other hand, if you are a brunette, for example, you are seen as a clever and strong woman, and everyone expects you to be this way. Moreover, in some cases not blonde females are considered to be less attractive. My friend’s girlfriend is a natural blonde with blue eyes. Her favorite subject at school was Physics. She is planning to become an engineer and speaks 2 foreign languages fluently. So, she dispelled two stereotypes at the same time. Not only will she be a female engineer, but also a blonde one. Now, I see how unreasonable it is to judge people by appearance.
And the last broken stereotype I am going to speak about concerns obese people. Obviously, if you cannot choose your natural hair color or gender, your weight is something you can take care of. Therefore, if you gain some extra weight, all you have to do is work out and eat less. That is probably why obese people are often thought of as avid gourmets who spend their free time watching TV or lying in a bed. In addition, they are thought to be extremely kind-hearted, I do not even know why. It's an article about obesity I came across on the Internet one day that helped me shatter the myth. According to the article, it has been estimated that on average, “quite chubby” people eat more than the thin ones. Scientists have conducted many researches, which prove that there is no straight connection between the amount of consumed food and a body structure. Moreover, those who follow diets are at higher risks of gaining weight because diets damage human organism. Secondly, obesity may be caused by some diseases or even medicine. Thirdly, your body structure is predetermined by metabolism; that is why, many people eat much and hardly work out, but stay skinny as a toothpick and vice versa. In my book, the stereotype is particularly dangerous because it concerns human health. It may happen that if an adult or a child puts on some extra kilos, he or she will follow a diet, when in reality excess weight may be caused by health problems.
To cut a long story short, stereotypes contain very little truth, if any. Stereotyping leads to prejudice and bigotry. Moreover, if uncontrolled, it results in discrimination and violence. Stereotypes harm both people they are directed at and those who follow them. Not to perpetuate the process, we would better think analytically and broaden our horizons. In addition, if you have become an object of stereotypes, it is vital not to follow them by yourself but just stay the way you are.