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Stereotypes have overstayed their welcome

By Savannah Christian
On February 15, 2012

In a time when wearing a dress made out of meat is considered to be acceptable as "creative fashion" and interracial relationships don't turn heads like they used to, I find it puzzling that we still operate under the same stereotypes and social labels as our grandparents. If newspapers will soon only be viewed on computers and illnesses will be cured by miniscule robots, don't you all think it is time to jump on the time train?  Face it, times have changed and so should we.

I am currently writing and editing and writing and editing my honors thesis in most of my spare time so that I can finish it in time to graduate in May. While it is not the ideal way for a 20-year-old college girl to spend her free time, it has taught me many things. Aside from how to write a thesis, perform quality research and indent long quotations in the proper way, I have developed a new outlook on the umbrella of labels that we live under.

My thesis is a study of the portrayal of female journalists in film opposed to the reality of the conditions of the profession. Every day I research and write about stereotypes female journalists face, films that represent them and the ways that society has begun to believe them because they see them on the big screen. For instance, if a woman is has blonde hair or wears tight-fitting clothing, she is automatically slapped as ditzy or provocative simply by the way she looks. 

I have blonde hair and sometimes like to wear form-fitting clothes, so is that what people think when they look at me? Probably. I know I am not stupid and I do not sleep around, and I am, to be quite frank, not concerned with what ridiculous, negative stereotypes people put on me; however, I am not ignorant of the power that stereotypes possess.

What will they do to damage me as I am trying to find a job so that I can start my professional career? I wonder if my hair or my youth or my body or the clothes that cover it will create such a stereotypical barrier that possible employers won't even try to look past it. I've got a pretty good brain and a lot of determination, but there's a chance that no one will see. 

I think the "labelistic" world we are living in is sad.  It is not only sad for the people who are unfairly put into a category based on the way they look; it is sad for those choose to get married at an early age because they have already found their one, but are not supported because they are "too young;" it is sad for those who cannot fully enjoy the beauty of a tattoo because others tarnish the art on their skin; it is sad for those who have such a passion for music that they are OK with playing the guitar in a different bar every night, but can't get the fulfillment they deserve because others don't see that as a respectable profession; it is sad for those who are only trying to live their lives in a way that makes them happy, but that happiness is stolen from people who are only happy when they are putting someone else down.

Stereotypes, labels and social stigmas are ancient, or at least they should be.  If your grandma still thinks your tattoo is trashy, well, that is expected.  But, a change is needed and we are the generation that has the momentum to make it happen.  Do you really have a problem with the things you dramatize? Do you judge people honestly or is it just something your parents do?  Stop and think about your ideas, your feelings and what YOU believe before you establish who you are.

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