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By Arianna Tong:
Cheerleaders, jocks, nerds, you name the label…high school has a reputation for stereotypes. Social stereotypes impact the collective atmosphere creating an unjust social system.
A social hierarchy produces a reputation for individuals before we ever meet them. By “judging the book by its cover”, we miss opportunities to encounter individuals different from ourselves who could be very interesting and influential. Stereotyping ignites a chain reaction, similar to fireworks. The net effect is an assumption based on the label plus a judgment with limited knowledge without personal interaction.
Why do we teenagers have the need to misjudge and misinterpret one another simply based on reputation or looks?
“I would define social stereotypes as a mental organization of people that I use to determine who I might or might not be comfortable with,” says Miramonte senior, Arjang Asadi. “Social stereotypes define the hierarchy at our school, at any school in fact. It’s like how economic indicators define an economic hierarchy.” Campolindo sophomore, Hannah Grubs added her thoughts. “I think social stereotypes are the way people frame other people by who they hang out with or how they act. It’s not just teenagers who do it. I did when I was five and I will probably do it when I’m older. It’s a bad habit I have and need to work on,” commented Grubs.
Christina Cisneros, a soccer player and sophomore at Acalanes feels there are cliques at her high school. “People with similar interests spend time together. For example, students on teams tend to eat together. If you are on the baseball team, you sit with you’re your players. Drama club members seek out their fellow actors. People have opinions about who is cool and who is not. Those choices don’t affect me. I don’t have lunch with my soccer team. I eat with my friends who are on the lacrosse team.” Stereotyping and cliques are two sides of the same card.
In the end, no matter where we go, or whom we encounter, social stereotypes play a large role in our lives as high school students. Whether it is the jock that sits next to you in physics, or that band geek in your PE class, instead of judging by first glance, open the book to get to know the person. Stereotyping stigmatizes. Cliques exclude. Anyone can be cool when given a chance.
Arianna Tong is a sophomore at Miramonte high school. She is an avid water polo player, future journalist for the Mirador, and is part of the Miramonte public speaking program.
In the News: Published Version
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