How To Break Stereotypes

Taking a dog out means sometimes we’re restricted to several public places. No hard feelings, I understand.

On a very rare occasion both Jamie (my dog) and I were allowed in an audience area, but we were at popular dog friendly Manly (Sydney) beach anyway.

We enjoyed watching Cheerleading Championships with family on Sunday afternoon exactly 3 years ago. These young people were truly amazing. To push the body beyond its limits like that, they must’ve done lots of hard work behind scenes.

What struck me most is a good mix of male and female competitors among the groups. It was a refreshing change. After all, cheerleading had been one of the female dominated sports for as long as I could remember. Of course, to this day, it’s still the case.

Wait! Before I go on any further, have I just heard someone say cheerleading isn’t a sport?

Well, my position is anything that’ll help break male stereotypes, count me in!

It’s funny, way before we were born, we had already been conditioned to and moulded into some certain types by our carers. They included the colours of clothing chosen by our parents, the kinds of toys we were given to play with and the roles we were expected to grow into in the family, at school, at work and in the society in later years.

Generation after generation, stereotypes about people were formed and passed down. Ideas about gender were generalised and portrayed in the media, in our head and in all corners of the world.

Under this framework, spoken or unspoken, written or unwritten, if you are someone who fits in with a particular group, you are welcome as part of the tribe, but if you are someone who doesn’t fit in with the group, you are seen as a black sheep at best or at worst as an outcast. Whichever happens, it can be a very lonely place to be.

The question is, how do you to break stereotypes and free yourself from it?

To bring the under-represented self to the table, my take is: It’s your niche, keep on doing what you’ve been doing.

If you’re someone who loves cooking and you want to be a master chief instead of a doctor as perceived by others, go and put on your favourite apron, keep on polishing your signature dishes and learning new skills required to be a top cook like no others.

If you’re someone who loves playing a musical instrument and you want to be a music producer instead of an engineer as perceived by others, go and practice, practice and practice necessary skills required to be at the helm and write as many musical notes as possible to shout out the noises, gossips and critics from the outside world.

Others can form as many stereotypes about you as they like, but realistically you don’t have time to break them all. So, don’t waste your time on that.

Conversely, do not stereotype stereotypes. It may sound a bit abstract, but I think you get the idea. Fight fire with fire may backfire. When a stereotype is created out of the norm, it’s an indication we simply don’t know any better at a given time.

One last thing to note, breaking stereotypes is about proving yourself right, not about proving others wrong. Now, that’s my type…

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