The Fact and Fiction of Stereotypes

We all know the stereotypes: the Asian doctor, the White businessman, the drunk Irishman, and so many more. Every one of them can be summed up in two truths: They (1) contain enough support (usually from some sort of basic truth) to be recognized across a wide span of people, yet they (2) do not encompass entire cultures and can be extremely outdated.

Yesterday, as we were closing for the night at work, I went to lift our egg cooker (one of the heaviest objects in the café that is lifted regularly) when one of my coworkers (a football player) called out from across the counter, across the room, and up the stairs, “want me to get that, Stephen?” I’m 5’8″ and weigh 130 pounds. I’m a runner. That doesn’t mean I can’t lift something heavy. My brother is 6’2″ and weighs 120 pounds. He regularly lifts weights. When we went down to Philmont with our Boy Scout troop, I had a 110 liter pack and he had a 95 liter pack. The next biggest pack could hold only 80 liters (it belonged to one of the troop’s most sturdily built scouts), and it still dwarfed the rest of the packs people carried. When one of the other scouts fell victim to heat exhaustion, it still came down to Daniel and myself to take the weight. No matter what people say, I refuse to accept that all scrawny individuals are wimps.

To take a step back, I will use one of my classmates as an example. The individual in question came into literature class every day with two Starbucks drinks in metal thermoses bearing the company’s logo. She wore silver or gold necklaces and bracelets to match the outfit for the day. Everyone turned to her as a prime example of a rich white girl. Anyone that tried to deny it would make a statement then look at her and promptly drop their planned “defense” for the perfect model of a stereotype. Everywhere we look, there are similar models for nearly every trend observed. It is through them that we can see exactly why society views certain groups under different lights, even though it might seem unfair to some representatives.

In the end, we must keep in mind that, while two of my running friends make fun of their own lack of upper-body strength, there are just as many of us that boast hidden muscle that leaves some people in shock.

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