I know. We’ve all said it. We’ve all done it. And chances are, as much as we dislike being stereotyped ourselves, we will still categorize others until they fall into the right column in our brain.
This is not a blog rant where I complain about how much I hate stereotypes. As much as I wanted to rant about how we shouldn’t stereotype, I realized I couldn’t do it. Because I would be a hypocrite. As much as I absolutely loathe stereotypes, I can’t say that I have never done it or don’t currently do it. The word stereotype gets a bad rep. If you are a stereotype, you’re common. You’re the normal person in your own category. You’re not only common and normal, you’re predictable.
Ouch. That one hurt.
It’s so easy to get offended by the word stereotype. Why? Because comparison, that’s why. Because we are being compared to everyone else who has a similar trait to us. I think, most of us, deep down, want to be different. Some of us may want to duck and stick our head in the sand and blend in, but I truly believe that we all have a God-given desire to be unique. I believe this is why we are so offended when we are stereotyped. I want you to face the facts. YOU HAVE BEEN STEREOTYPED. Like it or not, you have been sorted and placed into piles like a deck of cards. Whether it be by your skin color, hair color, smile, laugh, religion, gender, family, income, instrument, sport, weight, clothes, you name it. You don’t have to be in middle school or high school to be stereotyped. You just have to exist. Would you like to know why? Because that is how we were made.
I know what you’re thinking. “Okay, duh. I could have told you that one.” No really. Listen to me here guys. We were made in categories. Whether you take a poetic or literal interpretation of Genesis, or you don’t believe at all, let me tell you: When God created us, we fell into a category.
Genesis 1:24-26 says,
“And God said, ‘Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.’ And it was so God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
I may have hit or completely missed the point, but I believe we all exist in categories. And I don’t think stereotyping is a result of the average mean girl. I believe that categorizing is an act of human nature. I mean, be honest with me here, but have you ever not learned something in school that wasn’t in a group or category? Observing information and grouping it into a category is how we process information. It’s a form of organization. Alright, so I have covered the “type” part of the word, but what about “stereo.”
Just because we are grouped by ourselves and other people does not mean we have to remain in that group or category. I think, in order to properly assess the word “stereo,” and how you are the same as everybody else in your group, we must first talk about how you are different. As I previously stated, even though you were created and fell into the “human” category, you were created with a personal blueprint. Do you remember when you first learned about fingerprints? I was in third grade at the time, but when my teacher told me that no one has the same fingerprint, it blew my mind. Literally, my brain did not have the capacity to process how significant this information was. What about the fact that your fingerprints are on you hands. What about the fact that everything you touch, you touch with the most unique, individual part of you ON THIS ENTIRE EARTH. Read that again. For the people who just ignored that, I will make sure you read it again. You are the only one to ever have and behold your own fingerprint, located on your hands, and everything that you physically touch and come into contact with now holds the most unique, individual part of you on this entire earth, You cannot tell me that the inside of you is not unique when the outside of you already separates you from every other living thing on this planet.
Now that you know you are unique, not only on the inside, but on the outside too. I want you to think about the “stereo” part of stereotype. The prefix “stereo-” spawns from the word stereos, a classical Greek word meaning solid. The word changed throughout history to come to describing something, in the 19th century, meaning fixed or without change. Biologically, our design is fixed. Without change, we reproduce we will always recreate a replica of ourselves. Without fail, we all look like each other with a couple observed differences. When you have a large amount of similar things with different traits, what do you tend to do? If you were given a sack full of rocks and you were given one hour to be able to tell the difference between all of the rocks, what would you do? Well, I hope you would group them by their similar characteristics. This would be the fastest, natural, and human way to learn and understand what kind of rocks you are given.
In conclusion, if you didn’t understand any of my metaphors or comparisons, I want you to understand this. We stereotype ourselves because it is natural. Distinction between similar information by placing it into groups or categories is the way humans learn and understand life around them. It is natural. It is how we were made. Just because you were or are stereotyped should not offend you. It should not offend you because you know (at least I hope you know after reading this) that you are uniquely and individually created. Despite the fact that you look like every other human being, you have a physical distinction separating you that NO ONE CAN STEREOTYPE. So don’t be offended if you’re placed in a group or category by the people around you. They are just processing information. What really matters is what you think of yourself and your own stereotype, because you are your own stereo type – a beautifully unique child of God, and no one can classify you.
I love you. He loves you. You are unique and you matter.
Spread the word.