Posted by : VANITY Blog Tuesday, 11 November 2014
Let's do a survey, shall we?
Answer yes (mentally) if you have recently:
- Instagramed pictures of pumpkins or trees and hashtagged #fall
- Worn flannel or Uggs
- Bought seasonal lotion or candles from Bath and Body Works
- Purchased a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks
- Began thinking about shopping for Christmas presents with months still to go
If you answered yes to most questions, chances are, YOU are a basic, white girl! Not the case? How odd. Those listed above were all examples of stereotypical behavior expected from a "basic white girl". The term itself is quite problematic because (sadly, unbeknownst to everyone,) stereotypes don't often reflect reality.
Let me ask another question: what ethnicity are you? If you are Chinese, someone has probably asked you what "ching chong" is. If you are Japanese, someone has probably asked you if you watch anime. If you are middle eastern, someone has probably assumed you're a Muslim. It happens, and as immigrants or children of immigrants, we find ourselves dutifully correcting people all the time.
But stereotypes are not all bad. Most of the time, they stem from a grain of truth. For example, yes, most Asians who have studied in their respective countries will appear to be "smart" because their previous curriculum was advanced. However, it is when small minds take the stereotype and ignorantly apply it to every person in that group, generalizing every individual, that it becomes a serious problem. It leads to discrimination, classism and racism. Obviously, in this day and age, it goes without saying that everyone is different, and in a perfect world, everyone would be treated as such. It is why calling someone a "basic white girl" or asking someone what "ching chong" means may be problematic.
But, to borrow a quote from one of my favourite books, "the world is not a wish granting factory". Sometimes stereotypes are simply (and unfortunately) the norm; especially here in Vancouver, where we have a sea of diverse cultures. Generalizations are easy to make. I'm sure you find yourself making them all the time, even unknowingly. I fall victim to this way of thinking as well. When it does happen, I try to recognize the detriment of these thoughts and I will force myself to rise above them.
At the end of the day, if we take the time to get to really know a person, and have the decency to treat them as an individual and not a clone, all stereotypes are eventually crushed. If you are truly my friend, I promise I won't judge you by how many pumpkin spice lattes you consume.
- Tina Madani Kia (Contributing Blogger)