Posted by : VANITY Blog Wednesday, 26 November 2014

According to the Oxford Dictionary, stereotypes is a "widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing".

Photo Credits: Matthew Wiebe
See, with or without us realizing, stereotypes have governed our world from the shadows. When you see an Asian with thick glasses you think nerd, when you see a spaced-out jock you think weed, and so on. Stereotypes exist because we think in stereotypes, identifying an aspect with a large group is a part of human nature.

And yet, people have been trying to get rid of stereotypes for the better part of a decade. Why? Because stereotypes limit us. Stereotypes can be something that ties people together, yet also cages us. It is easy to let who we are determine what we like, instead of the other way around. And the obvious answer: set yourself free. Don’t let stereotypes trap you. Don’t be boggled down with what others expect of you, want from you, and see you as.

If only it were that easy.

Stereotypes still exist only because we want and we feel the need to “fit in”. We can be the personality clones, wearing different faces, inside our little cliques. Or we could all be radical individuals, lonely yet special. But honestly, neither of those sounds very appealing. So we want both, or to be somewhere in the middle. But how? How do we conform to a group, yet still retain that vital individuality?

I don’t know.

Photo Credits: Viktor Hanacek
I can say: “Don’t be scared of being who you are. Like what you like and forget the rest, who cares about what others think?” But then I would be lying. I cared about what others thought. I cared, and because I did, I told myself I didn’t. By doing that, I was only becoming another stereotype: the loner. See stereotypes aren’t just one type of people, by avoiding one you become another. If you were lucky (or patient), time would be generous and give you friends and people who think like you. But that does not solve the root of the problem. That is only creating a new clique, and eventually a new stereotype.

A stereotype is identifying a person/group by one of their aspect. So let’s flip the board around. If it was not the projection that had the problem, then perhaps it’s the projector itself we have to focus on.

If we stop recognizing and categorizing people based on race, gender….then we really wouldn’t have the whole stereotype problem. Yes, stereotypes exist. But as long as we, ourselves, remember that everyone (yes everyone) is more than just what you see of them, then we would have a much easier time actually getting to know each other.

Photo Credits: Lee Scott
By understanding that we are actually all different people, with different likes, dislikes, ideals…then slowly stereotypes are broken. You discover the Asian raps, the jock is into science. The world turns from being well….stereotypical…to a 3-D, exciting, living place.

Perhaps by now you would think I’ve gone on and on without really giving a solution. But really, if there was such an easy way out, why would there still be a problem? So cliques and stereotypes are a process. If we see a direction, we head towards it. We take two steps forwards and one step back. Perhaps there never will be a solution. Perhaps between here and there, the struggles we face, that’s what makes life worth living. And who knows, maybe at the end, the world will be a much prettier place.

- Selena

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Vancouver Immigrant Youth (VANITY) Blog is an online space made for youth, by youth. Here, you will find stories and experiences written by youth immigrants who once felt how challenging it was to be a newcomer in Vancouver. If you are a newcomer in Vancouver (or anywhere in Canada), we hope to give you all the resources you need to feel comfortable in this country. We hope to give you tips and advices on how we adjusted to our lives here as youth immigrants. Through this site, we want to empower you to bring out your full potential.





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