Stereotyping - I Was a Teenage Brain
It was a Friday afternoon, and I was waiting for my history class to start. The students sitting around me were talking about a big party that a girl was having that night. A guy sitting across from me turned and asked me if I was going to go to the party. Before I could answer him, he broke in and said that I would probably go home, do my homework and study all night. That Friday is one time I remember very well that being stereotyped as a brain limited what I could do. Just because I was not going to be at the party, it bothered me that my classmates assumed I would be at home studying. His assumption was caused by the characteristics associated with the stereotype of a brain.
A brain is a person who does well in school, gets good grades, always has their homework completed and likes to be on top. A brain is usually neat and organized. People wrongly think brains spend all of their time studying and doing homework. They think brains do not care about their appearance and are not involved in athletics. A brain is expected to wear thick glasses held together with tape, wear a pocket protector, be skinny and zit-faced and always have a calculator. A brain is usually associated with not being well dressed and being unattractive. Television and movies have helped contribute to this unattractive picture of a brain. Some examples are Screech from Saved by the Bell, Carol from Growing Pains and Steve Urkel from Family Matters.
I think the reason that people have placed me in the stereotype of a brain is because I have done well in all of my classes throughout school. I like to learn new things, and school is not very difficult for me. I always hated to get a test back because my classmates would ask what I received on the test. When I showed them my "A," I knew they resented that I had received a better grade than they did. They did not understand that I had to work hard to earn the "A." Because of my good grades, I am stereotyped as a brain. However, everything that people associate with the stereotype of a brain does not describe me.
One characteristic of the brain stereotype is that they always have their homework completed. This characteristic does not describe me at all. If an assignment is due for a grade, I usually try to have it completed. But first, I put it off, and then I have to stay up late or work on it during my lunch hour so that it is done on time. I do not do every assignment the teacher assigns. If I think the assignment is important or will help me understand the subject better, I will do it. Otherwise, it sits in my book bag until the next time the class meets. For example, in my "Introduction to Literature" class, we are supposed to write in a journal three times a week in response to what we have read. I still have not made a journal entry. I am going to do it, but it is taking me a while to get motivated. I do like to do well in school and get good grades. If that makes me a brain, then I guess I am one.
Besides always having homework done, a brain is considered to be neat and organized. I am far from being a neat person, and my room is an excellent example of my sloppiness. I have clothes and papers laying everywhere. My mom is constantly telling me to clean my room and put my clothes away. The dust in my room is at least an inch thick. I am not a very organized person, and I lose or misplace everything. I try to stay organized enough that I can find important stuff, but the rest contributes to the mess in my room. I even lose the important stuff, and I start panicking when I can not find it.
A brain's appearance is another aspect of how I do not fit the stereotype of a brain. Thick glasses held together with tape are a common accessory of a brain. I am supposed to wear glasses; however, I do not have a very strong prescription. I am not required to wear them all of the time, and I rarely do. My glasses are not held together with tape. I could fit the stereotype of a brain because I have a calculator, but I am a student. I do not know a student that does not have a calculator, especially if they have a math class. Dorky clothes are also part of the image of a brain. White socks with stripes along the top and short pants held up with suspenders are typical. My clothes are not the trendiest, but they are not out of style. I wear what I like and what is comfortable.
Another expectation of a brain is that they are not popular. I am not a prom queen, but it is not like I do not have any friends. My friends and I prefer to go to each other's houses rather than the popular hangouts. I am also a contradiction to the assumption that brains are clumsy and not athletic. I played softball in high school, and I play football and other sports with my cousins at family get togethers. I like to ride my bike and run for exercise.
I do not like being stereotyped anymore than anyone else. Stereotypes are unfair and leave someone with a wrong impression of the type of person someone really is. How a person is stereotyped affects what friends they have and who a person hangs out with. Being stereotyped limits and determines what a person can do. Because I was stereotyped as a brain, I missed a party. A wrongly stereotyped person can try to change someone's mind about them. Acting differently than how the stereotype is expected to act will help change someone's impression. If someone does not care enough to let a person change the misconceptions about them, that person is not worth the time spent trying to change their mind. The best way to stop stereotypes from continuing is to not make a hasty decision when meeting a new person. Keep an open mind and get to know a person before deciding what kind of person they are. You will make more friends and see people for what they really are.
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