Why Do We Stereotype? We Need To Look at the Root of the Problem

A stereotype is, by definition, “a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.” Nowadays we seem to automatically assume stereotypes are bad things.

Granted, they usually are, but stereotypes can also help people discover what colleges they like, what cities they want to visit, and more. Stereotyping isn’t reserved for identifying people.

Before you hate me, let me explain. Psychologically, humans create these stereotypes so they can categorize and label people. The world is easier to understand when everything is sorted into separate groups. The process of stereotyping is not something we can erase from the human race, that’d be impossible.

But what is possible is changing the conversation. No, we don’t have the right to be angry at the stereotype itself. The definition explains that a stereotype is meant to be oversimplified, which often leads to it being incorrect, especially in a society that is constantly evolving. We have no right to be mad at the stereotype because it’s only a thing that’s technically just doing its job

So what can we be mad at?

A stereotype itself is simply a result of assumed societal norms. There are hundreds of beliefs today that are not applicable or true, yet still widely expressed. The issue with labels and stereotypes is that they are so fixed. Instead of hating the stereotype, the fixed idea, we should be addressing society and just why we can’t accept the fact that people change.

“Don’t try to prove them wrong, but don’t live your life within predetermined perimeters, simply do you.”

There is no use in going on huge rants or violent protests to fight stereotypes regarding violence. Neither is it effective to use the stereotype as an explanation for your success, such as “I’m black, that’s why I’m good at basketball” or “I’m Asian, that’s why I get good grades” The truth is, you are good at basketball because you practice and you get good grades because you study. The only way to bring peace into our world is to stop referencing or using these stereotypes in everyday conversations. Don’t try to prove them wrong, but don’t live your life within predetermined perimeters, simply do you. 

The longer we use stereotypes as an excuse for failure, the more we will expect to fail. Every time you make a joke referencing a stereotype, it enforces it, not only in your mind but in the mind of your listeners. Sure, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the only way we are going to rid our world of constantly finding stereotypical explanations is to stop using them.

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t be influenced or affected by any of these assumptions. But our world is not perfect. We have no other choice than to make a conscious effort to fight our modern lingo and slang and earn our reputations the long way.

Don’t be mad at the stereotype, be mad at the fact that it still exists.

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Ariel Zedric is a metaphor loving, 17-year old living in the U.S. She is aspiring to be a lot of things. Contact via email at ariel.zedric@gmail.com, Twitter and Instagram @arielzedric, or find her wandering around on her blog at arielzedric.wordpress.com.

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