Leave the labels for mercantilism

By Britany Wright
November 15, 2007


Attention all supposed goths, jocks and nerds: you don’t need to be labeled anymore! College is the time for young adults to define themselves, not be defined by others.

Stereotyping and labeling is created by society. We find stereotypes in everyday life and represented in popular culture.

Everyday stereotypes are used to define ourselves and others. Advertisers use stereotypes to sell their products.

In commercials these stereotypes are apparent.

If the product they are selling is dishwasher liquid, the odds are it will be a woman remarking how well it helps her to clean her dishes effectively and quickly.

If the product is a car, it usually is a man driving the car in the commercial. They are showing how well the car handles the road or there will be a beautiful woman driving the car that will hopefully influence a man to buy the car.

Where do stereotypes come from though?

Dr. Anthony Tomasco, professor and department head of psychology believes that stereotypes existed long before modern media tactics.

“There was always some kind of media, for instance, church socials or the local newspaper,” Tomasco said.

People like to search for a common ground between each other, which might be defined as “normal.”

In regards to the concept of normal Tomasco said, “We as a society, like to find some kind of normalcy. This is not necessarily a construction by people, but by groups. They are a bias based on the characteristics of people.”

Jen Bollinger, sophomore political science major, said, “I’m not afraid to admit that I stereotype people. You have common views with your friends about how you perceive other people. I’m friends with a lot of different people from various groups and it’s a shame that people think differently about others.”

There are two kinds of stereotypes according to Tomasco, benign and malignant.

“Benign stereotypes are not accurate, because for example we might generalize fundamentalist religious types as having strong morals, but by saying that we could rule out that others have strong moral values as well,” Tomasco said.

Suman Vohra, junior elementary major, said, “We all have labels. When you need to label someone, how do you do it without being rude and condescending?”

Diversity is necessary to have in a society because it’s the differences that make people unique and interesting.

If everyone wore the same uniform day in and day out with the same kind of personality, the world would be “normal” but very bland and boring.

“We stereotype today as much as ever,” Tomasco said. “Most of the time stereotypes are a problem because they are based on generalizations; they are not in the best interests of the one being stereotyped.”

These stereotypes are based on clothing, people’s mannerisms and their material possessions.

Kat Roper, senior graphic design major, said, “We identify people through clothing and the type of cell phones they have which may demonstrate the amount of money they have. Overall, we’ve progressed more as judging a book by its cover and not spending the time to read its text.”

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Britany Wright

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