Ways People Have Stereotyped Me

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!

asd

“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.

Picture 7

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.

asd

“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.”

pdxkristina

“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?

37 comments

  1. LeAnne@thisismyfaster

    Sadly I think many of us have been on the receiving end of stereotyping. If I’m being honest I have to say that in the past I have been guilty of making assumptions about people based on their appearance too 🙁
    I’m glad you are not letting the stereotyping deter you in your running and training. This is, after all, YOUR journey 🙂
    Great post!
    LeAnne@thisismyfaster recently posted…A Huge Mistake…My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Thank you LeAnne! 🙂

      I think we’ve all been there, having made assumptions about someone based on their appearance. I actually think becoming a runner has made me much more open minded. In the beginning when I would get passed by people I *thought* I should be able to run faster than it would make me upset, now I just eat my humble pie and cheer them on for being awesome!
      Kristina @ Blog About Running recently posted…Ways People Have Stereotyped MeMy Profile

  2. Susan

    Wow–some of those are so harsh. That’s awful and I am sorry you have been on the receiving end of those comments. I know we all subconsciously make assumptions based on looks, etc., but it’s better to just keep your thoughts to yourself and get to know someone.

    Yes, I am stereo-typed quite a bit. I am actually super thin and have been all my life. People think I don’t eat and then they spend time w/ me and are surprised that yes, I eat, I eat often, I eat a lot–but I eat healthy, real food! And just as it’s hurtful for people to make comments about someone carrying a little more weight, it’s equally as hurtful to someone who carries less weight. I also am blonde hair, blue eyed so opposite of you, people don’t think I am smart. And again, they don’t quiet know what to say when they learn I went to college on an academic scholarship.

    Kristina, I think you are amazing and beautiful. Your blog inspires me so much because I am also a slow runner and often feel a little lost in relating to some other runners.

    Thank you for always taking the time to post really wonderful, meaningful content. Plus, you have a fabulous sense of humor. You rock!

    1. Cocomama

      Kristina inspires me for the same reason! It’s hard to relate to some of those other blogs sometimes. Cheers to those of us who are out there all day, middle-to-back of the pack, bringing up the rear!

      1. Megan @ Meg Go Run

        Agreed. Kristina inspires me because she sets goals for herself and trains really hard to achieve them! She is so determined, and that makes ME want to be determined.

        And like you said, she is HILARIOUS.
        Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…Happy Birthday, MOMMA!My Profile

        1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

          You guys are making me blush!

          Also, I am so glad I found a group of other people who get my sense of humor, because most people do not think I am funny! 🙂

    2. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Susan, I’m sorry to hear that people make such awful assumptions about you! I can imagine that people feel much more at ease commenting about your weight too, since they wrongfully assume it won’t be hurtful. If only people would just not comment on other people’s weight at all! I just don’t see what the point of it is!

  3. sam @ grapefruit & granola

    Well, I’m middle eastern so I’m sure you can imagine the stereotypes I’ve had to deal with throughout the years. I def laughed out loud at your magic genie comment!
    sam @ grapefruit & granola recently posted…Things Loved in MarchMy Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      I can imagine and I am really sorry about that. There are so many ignorant people in this world, but you are leading a happy successful life and that is the best way to respond to the haters!

  4. Hanna

    I really can’t believe that it’s 2015 and we still have to have some of these conversations. The more things change, the more they stay the same…sigh.

    And, ugh, people actually said some of those things to you? It blows my mind the lack of tact some people have. I know there are people who are raised thinking it’s normal to say literally anything that pops into your head, but I still just can’t believe the things that come out of otherwise civil, educated people’s mouths sometimes.

    I haven’t been stereotyped as badly as your examples, but in the past, I have had Susan’s above experience of stereotyped for being thing. It’s genetic for me, my mom was really thin, and as a kid I was super skinny. People sometimes assumed I was anorexic. I also had friends that would see our house and make comments about how rich we must be. Our house was a little bigger/nicer than most of my friends, but we certainly weren’t rich. It’s things like these, and the examples you mention, that make it clear to me how much of stereotyping is really just people projecting their own insecurities and jealousy onto others.
    Hanna recently posted…Grandma’s Marathon Training: Week 6My Profile

  5. Lizzy

    Wow. People are unbelievable. I know we all are guilty of stereotyping to some extent, but one would hope that better judgement would override some of these stupid and hurtful statements.

    As for your thoughts on children, I think it’s admirable that you’ve recognized what makes sense for your life and your goals and you aren’t giving in to societal pressure. As I get older I’m seeing far too many people decide to have kids because it’s what their parents want for them or similar reasons. I can’t help but worry that all that does is reproduce a cycle of “you have to have kids because I had to have kids”.
    Lizzy recently posted…Training Tuesday – recovery weekMy Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      I agree Lizzy! My parents are very open minded about the whole thing and have never pressured me about having kids. Adam’s dad would love nothing more than for us to have a child, but we’re standing our ground! Cecil is all we need 🙂

  6. jan

    People say the stupidest things. I truly hope it’s all out of pure stupidity and they’re not really that stereotypical. Why don’t people just THINK first and talk second instead of the other way around?
    jan recently posted…Do You Forget How to Run Fast?My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      It sure would be nice if everyone thought before they spoke!

      I think in a lot of ways it has gotten better as we’ve gotten older. I remember as a kid other kids would always ask me, “you are Chinese” and when I would say no and then they would say “you’re NOT? Then what are you?” It always made me feel really awkward. Even after I would tell them I was korean they would still call me Chinese. One particular person thought it was fun to nickname me Chinese Girl. So rude! I know that’s not a stereotype but it’s definitely a case of think before you speak!

      (As you can imagine I didn’t grow up in a very diverse area!)

  7. Kristen @ Glitter and Dust

    Stereotypes is one of my favorite topics to discuss in my social psychology class because they affect everyone at some point or another – both in negative and positive ways. When I open this topic up for discussion in the classroom, everyone has something to say and a lot of feelings and emotions emerge on the topic. It’s pretty amazing that we all fall victim to them, yet they continue to exist. Unfortunately, our minds are programmed to make quick judgments and we spend little time trying to disconfirm what we think we know. Hopefully over time, we can evolve and change the way we process information, ultimately breaking down some of the major stereotypes that exist in our society.
    Kristen @ Glitter and Dust recently posted…Training* For A Half Marathon {* = While Pregnant}My Profile

  8. Maddie@Dixie Runs

    It’s crazy how social media has reinforced a lot of stereotypes and created new ones… I think as bloggers we have an opportunity to tell stories behind pictures and surprise people by changing their original opinions. We are all guilty of stereotyping and making judgments whether we intend to or not, but the only way this is going to change is if we start talking about it! Love this post!!
    Maddie@Dixie Runs recently posted…Need for SPEEEEEED and an Interesting ObstacleMy Profile

  9. Jennifer

    Excellent post Kristina (and thanks for introducing me to Kim). I’ve encountered a few of those comments myself – people are surprised that I run (esp the 26.2). Unfortunately I do not help with the math stereotype 😛 During college (it was a question and not meant to be mean – my friend did not grow up in a diverse area) I was asked if I ate rice everyday – oyyy! I wish I had access to my old computer, I wrote one of my college application essays on stereotypes.
    Jennifer recently posted…Marine Corps Marathon-Second Chance Registration!My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      OMG the rice comment! I don’t help with the stereotype there because I would love to eat rice every day! haha

  10. Jess

    I get the “You’re not skinny so you must run to lose weight” too. Usually not out loud, but I can just sense it. Also, don’t even GET me started on the “You’re Asian, you must be good at math!” thing. >:(

    I’ve also gotten some weird stereotypes from traveling:
    – You’re Asian so you must be from Asia <– when I was living in Egypt, nobody believed that I'm American
    – You're from the North / a Yankee, so you must be really outspoken / opinionated / bossy / not classy <– don't get me started on that one either, I have spent a lot of time in the South and it only gets my Italian-nurtured temper going and then I DO end up getting really outspoken and opinionated…reaffirming their point I guess?
    – You lived in Ohio, therefore you must be from Ohio <– this one's not that bad but it's annoying, and I have to go through this whole rigamarole of, "No, I grew up in New York – the state not the city, it's actually closer to Cleveland, and he's from North Carolina, and we moved to Ohio but not together."

    Clearly I could go on for days. People are stupid though, and I'm sorry you have also had to experience stereotypes!
    Jess recently posted…Optimizing My Health, Part IIMy Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      I don’t know if this ever happens to you, but sometimes people will randomly start talking to me in Korean! Like, total strangers! When I look at them puzzled they say, “oh you don’t speak Korean?”

      I mean… why would they assume that I do? I always find that bizarre.

      On multiple occasions I’ve been chastised for not speaking the language! I’ve had to say, “well I was adopted and I came to America when I was 3 months old and was raised by American parents …. NOT THAT IT’S ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS!”

      Also, when people ask “where are you from?” I sometimes just say “I’ve lived in Florida most of my life” but most people will persist until I finally say I was born in Korea. I have never understood why people are so curious/nosy about that.

  11. Ali @ Hit the Ground Running

    I agree SO HARD about bonding over weight issues. Women have more depth than that and it kills me that weight issues are so prevalent that it’s almost like an obvious go-to for bonding. Blah.

    A friend of mine recently got the “YOU’VE run half marathons?!” Incredulous comment with gesturing to her body. I cannot understand people who are that freaking rude.

    I get stereotyped as a teacher, a Jew, a woman, someone who married relatively young…I could go on. Some bother me more than others; I take great pleasure in destroying stereotypes and watching people’s reactions!

    (Also, that picture of the F cracks me up; I get the point of it but I don’t think any kid should be proud of his F on a test lmao!)
    Ali @ Hit the Ground Running recently posted…Very SuperstitiousMy Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Ugh, I am sorry to hear that your friend had to deal with that.

      I’m sorry that you have to deal with so many stereotypes too.

      I really don’t understand how anyone thinks it’s okay to do or say rude things about someone’s appearance or culture. I mean, what is the point? Just to make someone else feel uncomfortable or bad? It’s just so frustrating! I suppose they just don’t realize how rude they are being, but I don’t understand how they could be so unaware?!

  12. Cocomama

    I once had someone tell me, “Just because you run doesn’t make you a runner any more than standing in your garage doesn’t make you a car.”

    That has really stuck with me. Many times if I mention a race and someone asks Oh, are you a runner? I’ll answer, “Well, I run” instead of saying “Yes, I’m a runner”.

    Even at 40+ years old, people can still get into my head!
    Cocomama recently posted…See you next year Road Runners!My Profile

    1. Summer

      I hate the jerk who said this to you. If you run, you are a runner. The slowest runner is lapping all the couch potatoes.

      1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

        I’m with Summer! If you run you are a runner!

    2. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Oh no, I am really sorry to hear that this person got into your head. What an incredibly rude and incorrect comparison!!! Running makes you a runner! The dictionary definition of runner is “someone who runs.” That’s all there is to it!

  13. Kim

    Thanks for linking to me, Kristina!!
    I hate the way you have been stereotyped!!
    The weight thing irritates me beyond belief – why do people feel justified in making comments about anyone else’s weight?!
    And, quite honestly, I think it is selfish when people have kids that don’t really want them!! Making a choice not to have kids is something I get because I spent most of my life thinking I wouldn’t have kids either.
    Kim recently posted…Ditching Labels and StereotypesMy Profile

  14. Megan @ Meg Go Run

    This was a very interesting read. Thanks for sharing all of that with us! Women definitely bond over weight/weight loss too much. I do not like when people make comments about my exercise and nutrition choices and it really makes me cognizant of what I say to other people. I have had so many people comment on my lunches at work that I just will NOT EVER comment on something someone is eating EVER. Women also tend to say things like “Oh I am being bad, I’m having pizza for lunch.” A guy would never, ever say that.
    Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…Happy Birthday, MOMMA!My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      UGH I really really dislike when people say “I’m being bad” or “I’m cheating” when it comes to food. So many things wrong with that!

  15. Cori @ She's Going the Distance

    I have a very similar blog i’ve been working on for some time now and i’m glad you’re talking openly about this stuff. People unfortunately don’t think before they speak, and women especially have a hard time being supportive instead of competitive. You’re amazing. 🙂
    Cori @ She’s Going the Distance recently posted…A New State!My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      POST IT! I can’t wait to read it!

  16. Liv @ Healthy Liv

    I’ve seen the meme of the little boy before and it cracks me up every time. I definitely agree with your thinking about not having kids– that’s such a major life-changing decision, and someone who doesn’t want to have kids shouldn’t have them just because they think that’s the “normal” thing to do.
    Liv @ Healthy Liv recently posted…Balancing Food Cravings & Healthy EatingMy Profile

  17. Richard

    I can’t believe how ignorant and close minded people can be. I’ve had people stereotype me but nothing as significant as yours. For me I just try to remember how miserable they must be to hold onto those thoughts.
    Richard recently posted…Lets Talk About Some PFMy Profile

  18. Courtney @ Running For Cupcakes

    Nothing gets my blood boiling than when I hear people saying that they are running to get “skinny” ick I feel dirty just talking about it. We run because we love to and that is all that matters!
    Courtney @ Running For Cupcakes recently posted…Coast-to-Coast Challenge: A Digital StoryMy Profile

  19. Karen

    Since I recently attended a diversity session at work, I am quite sensitive to the whole stereotype thing. It was quite interesting how angry and how emotional people become when talking about their perceived injustice. It was interesting to watch.
    I think we all get it from time to time, it does deeply bother me
    Karen recently posted…It’s All About The Shoes?My Profile

  20. Jessica @ VEGGIE RUNNING MOMMA

    IDK why I haven’t checked out your blog in a while.!! but I’m catching up right now and remembering why I love it SO much. People can be so judgemental and rude. way to put yourself out there girl.!!! The thing I agree with the most is how people, espcially women, try to bond over weight… why is it acceptable in society to talk about someone else’s weight. I never will understand that.!
    I’m Mexican..soo I hear tons of stereotypes all the time. it’s annoying. But I’m a tough person and ignore them.
    Jessica @ VEGGIE RUNNING MOMMA recently posted…“gonna eat healthier..gonna eat healthier”My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Isn’t the weight thing seriously just so annoying? I have how that’s the lowest common denominator when it comes to conversation with other women. So frustrating!

      Way to be tough! I used to let these things really bother me, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve grown much thicker skin.

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