Teen’s opinion: Real people are far more interesting than stereotypes

By Kaddi Dodd

People all around the world, no matter their gender, age, sexuality or religion, have been affected in some way by media.

Stereotypes are constantly surrounding children and adults alike, and this shapes their view of how people should act and look, and how the individual person should act and look.

Men, women and LGBTQ+ members all face this pressure to look and act a certain way.

Men are shown to be hyper-masculine in the media. This pressure on young men in our society is constantly surrounding them, and making them feel like they have to suppress their actual personality to conform to gender roles.

Skinnier men are shown as being the weak, nerdy kid, and overweight men are mainly used for comedic effect. But, on the other side of the spectrum, the “athletic” men are used for the role of “the boy next door,” “the very angry and mysterious one,” or “the womanizer/bully.”

But those three stereotypes don’t at all cover every personality type that exists in modern day society. The world right now is so much more diverse than the skinny one, the fat one and the football player.

Most boys in school feel like they need to be athletic, or violent, or a womanizer, just to fit in. And if you aren’t one of those people, you won’t fit in or be accepted.

Drugs are shown to make a man “more manly” and it’s a similar story with alcohol. Due to this, many boys feel pressured into doing drugs and drinking alcohol. Our society needs to stop putting so much pressure on conforming to a specific gender role.

Women are shown in media, and expected to be in real life, hyper-feminine. Much like men, the pressure that surrounds women to be hyper-feminine can be very detrimental to a girl’s self-esteem.

If girls are constantly surrounded by magazine ads and news articles of all these gorgeous women, their minds feel like they should look like that, too. But usually, a teen will not look like a supermodel, and due to that fact, the girl’s mind feels like she is not good enough as she is.

This can lead to depression, self-harm, taking drugs and drinking alcohol.

It’s not just teens who feel pressure to act a certain way. Many adult women have a similar problem.

Even in politics, a man could say something, but if a woman said the same thing, she would be called whiny and emotional, while the man is praised for his words.

In television and movies, women are often used for their body, whether it’s “the fat girl” for comedic effect, “the slut” who always dresses inappropriately, or “the pretty nerd” who has so many men chasing after her, yet is unaware.

These examples are just a few of the many stereotypes for women that exist, and many movies use at least one, if not more, of these stereotypes.

Women in the music industry are often expected to conform to the hyper-feminine gender role. You see singers who were once so innocent looking, be changed by what their managers tell them to do.

They tend to have the singer wear less clothes, sing about men and act a certain way in public. These changes are expected of many young singers. People like Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears have gone through this process. This hyper-femininity can be very unhealthy for women.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community are shown very differently in media, compared to how they are in real life. In movies, gay men are often stereotyped as the “gay best friend.”

They are shown as the person you go to for “guy advice” or “picking out a good outfit,” and they don’t often stray from that stereotype.

Another thing that people in the LGBTQ+ community often hear is, “Oh! You’re too pretty to be a lesbian.” Or, “You are too handsome to be gay.”

This is pressuring people in the community to look a certain way to appease what media wants them to look like. Homophobia is also very present in the media. Actors and actresses tend to not come out publicly, because it can cause them to lose work.

Singer and broadway performer Brendon Urie did not formally come out to the media until 2018, for a couple of reasons. One of those reasons was because he was worried about the backlash he might’ve gotten from his fans.

Many people in middle or high school feel like they need to stay in the closet because they are worried about how their peers may react. This can put a lot of pressure on young people, because they are hiding such a big part of themselves. Many children and adults feel the pressure to act a certain way due to their sexuality.

This pressure put on society is harsh and unfair to many people, especially children, most of whom are still trying to figure things out.

The stereotypes surrounding us shape how we view the world, and how the world should be. Men and women alike should be allowed to be themselves, without worrying about gender roles.

Kaddi Dodd is a 13-year-old Red Deer student.

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