Yesterday Kim blogged about how frustrating labels and stereotypes can be. Her post got me thinking about the ways I’ve been stereotyped over time.
“You’re asian so you must be good at math.” Nope. I am terrible at math. Unless I can use a basic calculator to figure it out, I need to defer to someone else. In school I thought scientific calculators were expensive and pointless!
“If you don’t want children it must be because you’re selfish.” Actually, I think it’s selfish for someone to have kids just because it’s the “normal thing to do” even if they don’t want children or cannot properly support a family.
Admittedly, not having children does afford me the disposal income to travel multiple times per year, the ability to plan and save for an early retirement, the freedom to buy the things I want and the enjoyment of getting to spoil my cat.
Those are all nice luxuries I likely wouldn’t get to enjoy if I had children, but to be clear enjoying those things does not make me selfish.
I am not choosing those things over having a child. Rather I decided long ago, and after extensive consideration, that I did not want children and as such I am free to enjoy those things without guilt or the need to excuse my behavior.
“You’re not skinny so when you say you run you must mean you walk.” <–Well, no one has ever said that to my face, but my own mom has, on occasion, asked me how my walking is going! SIGH.
Also on two separate occasions when I told two different people that I ran a half marathon their identical response was, “Wow, that’s more than I could run. How did YOU do it?”
I rubbed a magic lamp and asked the genie to make me a slow runner.
“You’re not skinny so you must actually hate running but do it solely to lose weight.” This one usually comes up when someone who is also “not skinny” finds out that I am a runner. The conversation usually goes, “ugh, running sucks, how much weight have you lost?”
“Well actually, it’s not really about that for me. I’m most proud that I went from running 0 miles to finishing a full marathon. I really like running.”
“Oh wow, so how many calories does running burn?”
That’s usually when I try to find a way to exit the conversation.
Few things frustrate me more then when women try to bond over weight – gaining weight, losing weight, what other people weigh, etc. We are complex human beings and there just HAS to be something better that we can bond over.
“You’re so nice, you must be a pushover.” This is another one that no one has said to my face, but actions speak louder than words. I don’t want to go into details here, but let’s just say a work related event recently showed me that someone thinks because I am nice that he can take advantage of that. Let’s also just say that I called this person out on his BS actions because I am nice but I am definitely not a pushover!
Stereotypes really stink. I know many people have been stereotyped or profiled in much worse ways that I have. Really, I’ve had it easy, but wouldn’t it be great if we could all just keep an open mind? It’s not easy to do but it’s worth trying for.
Have you ever had to deal with an unfair stereotype being placed on you? How did you deal with it?