March 2003
French articles
arts and expressions
about SNN
magazine archives


By Matt L., St. John Bosco School, Shea Heights/St. John's, NL

What are stereotypes? What is wrong with using stereotypes? And how can we stop them?

What is a stereotype? If you look up the word stereotype in a dictionary you would find: One that is regarded as embodying or conforming to a set image or type. Or in english – a person who thinks everyone of a common group is the same. This is the one I am talking about, not a metal printing plate cast from a matrix, folded from a raised printing surface. That one, also, comes up in a dictionary but is not the kind stereotype I am talking about.

Now, close your eyes, picture an old person, what comes to your head? I think some people would say that elderly people are smelly, house ridden, SSSSLLLLLLOOOOOWWWWWW and forgetful people that have bad taste in everything. Some of them are like this but you must always remember: not all of them are. There are old people winning the Olympics at the age of 72. There is a guy driving as old as 105 and another professional drag racing in excess of 300 miles an hour at the age of 63! Other old people include an 84 year old who went on an adventure to both the north and south poles. All these people went and accomplished and didn't let old age get them, proving to the world that they weren't all slow, lazy and house ridden.

Believing that all old people are slow makes you a believer of stereotypes. There are elderly people who can't drive and there's ones that can. So next time you see that old guy pulling out in front of you on the highway don't think automatically slow and bad at driving, think about how much experience they have on the road and don't forget to give them a chance.

The stereotyping of teenagers is something I, and I'm sure you, face every day.

All teenagers are hard cases is another stereotype. When most older people see a group of kids my age, they would rather take the big U shaped course around us than just to pass by a group of teenagers. Another example of people who stereotype teenagers are store owners and clerks at the shopping centers around town. They give us dirty looks, follow our every move and they don't even know us. None of my friends or myself have ever stolen anything from a store, but that's the way some adults think about teenagers these days.

For some strange reason people also think that teenagers are lazy. Sure some might be able to sleep in bed until three o'clock but not all of us do. To get up at seven o'clock in the morning for as many days as we go to school is quite the challenge, but I do it. Getting up at eight o'clock Saturday morning for robotics is hard too, but I do it. This proves many teenagers are not lazy and are not sleeping their lives away.

The main thing I would like to tell people about teenagers is that we are not all lazy. We are not all trouble makers. There are probably more of those type people who are adults. Stop thinking we are all like that and realize people are different.

The male versus female stereotype. You see the images everywhere. Ads that say men like the outdoors and are athletic, while women are all obsessed with their looks and are clean freaks. This is not true at all. The times are changing more and more, women and men are switching roles around the world, proving that not all guys have to be the best at sports and not all men can't take care of their kids. Stay at home Dads and professional women's sports teams are common. All men and all women should realize that nothing should hold them back.

A stereotype I experience in everyday life is that all skateboarders are mindless, loudmouth vandals. This is the one that rots me the most. My friends and I may go to a parking lot with no cars in it, with no "No skateboarding" signs and no other people around and we, still, get kicked out every time. If no one is complaining and there are no signs posted against it, I don't know why we are not allowed to do what we love. It's probably a bored security guard with nothing better to do than kick out a bunch of young people having fun.

People also judge you on the place you are from. These stereotypes include people who think bad things about the people from my community of Shea Heights or even of all Newfoundlanders. People think bad things about the kids from Shea Heights like we are a bunch of trouble makers with no future. They think that all we do is fight and do drugs. For the most part none of this is true. Sure there will be people fighting and causing trouble everywhere. I think our school, St. John Bosco, has become very peaceful with almost no violence so far this year. I think this is a very good accomplishment and deserves some attention.

Newfoundlanders have a bad image that every mainlander seems to make fun of. They say we are a dumb, igloo-living people who do nothing but fish and get welfare. We don't live like that and many great people have came out of Newfoundland. These people include great musicians and some really, funny comedians.

All these things about Newfoundlanders and people from Shea Heights are foolish. We are just as good or better than anyone else who thinks those types of things. They are the ones that are dumb – not us.

Another type of stereotyping people do is think that all blondes are stupid. There are too many blond jokes to count and some of them I can't even repeat in school. All this dumb, blond stuff sounds all fun but it is not true. There are a lot of people who are blond and smart at the same time, actually it isn't very uncommon. Saying that because of their hair color they are dumb is just plain stupid. What does the color of someone's hair have to do with their IQ?????

There are many other types of stereotypes out there but I've shown you the main ones that I come across my everyday life.

Now, thinking of it, there are many more types of stereotyping that go on everyday. But there is no way to stop everyone. If you want to stop stereotypes the best thing you could do is stop yourself from thinking that way. It's what's on the inside that counts. When it comes to stereotyping always remember: "Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover."


Back to Front Page