Harmful Stereotypes — OPINION

Many high schoolers struggle with the pressure of stereotypes in their everyday life.

Whether+they%27re+influenced+through+social+media+or+real+life%2C+stereotypes+have+been+around+for+a+long+time.+Often+times%2C+high+schoolers+feel+pressure+based+on+the+projection+of+their+social+standing+from+common+stereotypes.+

Kennedy Goergen

Whether they’re influenced through social media or real life, stereotypes have been around for a long time. Often times, high schoolers feel pressure based on the projection of their social standing from common stereotypes.

Aubrey Guyer , Staff Writer

High School students are greatly affected by stereotypes. The image to look and act a certain way is carved in this young generation’s mind, and for what? The assumptions made about certain groups can be extremely harmful to one’s health. Just because some people have a different gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, and different hobbies doesn’t make them more or less of a human. However, in this day and age, the stigma around stereotypes is growing more than ever.

It is understandable that people often want to be surrounded by others like them. They enjoy doing the same things, share the same morals, values, and so on.  But this tendency can lead to judging others. When groups label others as “different,” and judge them through stereotypes, it leads to a social hierarchy. This idea of a “perfect” teenager being set is unbelievably biased. It is a known fact that if you look a certain way and do certain things you are given more attention than others.

 If you don’t play a sport, you could be considered a “nerd” or a “band geek,” but if all you do is play sports you’re considered a “jock” or “cocky.” These stereotypes are mostly judged by looking at the cover of someone. I can’t help but ask myself what life would be like if stereotypes weren’t relevant, or how many more friends I would have if there wasn’t a social barrier dividing people who simply enjoy doing different things. While this might not be the case for everyone, the issue is still present in everyday life for schools, workplaces, homes, and even while walking down the street. 

Social media projects all types of stereotypes: from body shaming to setting unrealistic expectations for young adults. According to Oberlo, there are 3.5 billion people who use social media in the world which calculates out to be roughly 45% of our population. Most of these people have probably had an experience where they feel the need to follow a certain trend or to buy a certain thing to live up to the social media ideal. Putting this type of image in young and vulnerable brains can lead to many more harmful things, such as anxiety and depression. Since the first smartphones were introduced in 2007 to now in 2020, anxiety and depression symptoms have increased in young adults by 30%.  It’s hard to think about what the point of social media is anymore. Some days I don’t even understand why I still have certain apps on my phone considering how much anxiety and stress they cause me. Nonetheless, I have seen positive outcomes of social media. But at the same time, it does not compensate for the negativity social media brings to millions of people each day. 

I have many times struggled to maintain a positive body image while trying to live up to a beauty standard stereotype. So many people try to preach body positivity but it can serve the exact opposite purpose. I find it very frustrating when most of these influencers trying to spread this type of body acceptance are the ones who are setting this unrealistic beauty standard themselves. 

The pressure to look a certain way or to be considered “pretty” is breaking many people. In hindsight, I can never see the beauty standard not being in my life no matter how old I am. Every time I open any app I am reminded of the negative thoughts I have about myself, and I can almost guarantee I am not the only one who feels this way. 

The sad thing is stereotypes are something that is very normalized in our society. I don’t see very many people speak out about this which is clearly unsettling. Judging someone solely off of their appearance will always be sickening to me, but almost everyone does it. Life without stereotypes would be much simpler, but sadly, we are far away from this reality.