Have you ever walked past a homeless person and held onto your wallet a little tighter? Or have you ever seen a group of big guys walking towards you and felt threatened, despite them not having done anything to make you feel that way?
Stereotypes are brilliant and terrible things. Sometimes they can save you from a bad situation; if you see someone who looks like they might be scary the hairs on your arms may prickle and you might therefore remove yourself from that situation, avoiding a situation that you don’t want to be in.
But at the same time, its tarring a group of people with the same brush. At Venice Beach, when walking past the big groups of homeless people gathering at the food donation stalls I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t mean that every one of those people who were sleeping rough on the beach might mug me, but at the same time the thought was in my hed, s statistically a person who is desperate; who is living on the streets and scavenging for food and clothes is far more likely to mug you, out of sheer desperation.
So how does a person begin to rise above a stereotype? My cousin is often mistaken for a druggie as surfers in California are renowned for being into drugs. With a great tan, white blonde wavy hair and blue eyes, he is synonymous with any of the surfers that live in the area, yet is a top swimmer and currently sitting his SAT’s at school. But when he is old enough to go for a job will he have to cut his hair and put on a suit, or will he be accepted for the sweet kid that he is, through the hair and dress code?
Older generations are often scared by tattoos and piercings. My sister has piercings in her face and tattoos, but she is the sweetest person I know, and would do anything to help someone. I have a tattoo and yet it doesn’t define me, but is this because I chose to have it in a place where a person can only see it if I choose to let them see?
I personally feel that tattoos are a persons expression of themselves and stand alone as often stunning pieces of art. Older generations embrace a picture on the wall or a sculpture as art, and I think that people should be less judgemental; body art and graffiti, when used in the right way can be beautiful.
There is a new programme in the States with Christina Aguiliera, Adam Levine, CeeLo Green and a country and western star whose name I don’t know. I really hope it comes to the UK because its a great idea; the contestants sing, but the judges are all facing way from them and cannot see what they look like. If they decide they want to support the voice they turn round and are therefore already committed before they see the face and make a judgement. I’ve only watched one so far but there have been some surprises, like the bald lady in her fifties, covered in tattoos and dressed like a goth.
I love the idea that these judgements are being made without seeing the person and making a first impression that way. If only this could be a microcosm of our society hey?