I really need to talk about stereotypes because I’ve been truthfully thinking about them a lot lately. Like, blondes are more fun or women are worse drivers than men or men should not cry. I think a lot of us surpass stereotypes especially when it comes to things that define us. Stereotypes are just convenient for us as a society to pigeonhole people to what we think they are or should be like.
For instance, would you have expected me, and author and educated woman, to ever have an intervention which then led her to rehab? I don’t not fit this stereotypical alcoholic character. I grew up in a great home, I am well educated, I never went to jail or had a problem with the law, and I never let it interrupt my daily activities such as work. But I am an alcoholic and that was hard for me to believe because I did not fit the stereotype which at the end of the day, was not conducive to me in my recovery from alcoholism. Of course, part of it was me being in denial that I did have a problem and that I needed to stop, but I wasn’t sold that I was an alcoholic because I didn’t fit the bill from what Society in the media portrays alcoholics and addicts as.
The most relevant stereotype to me that I would like to write about today is the one that peeves me the absolute most: the character of those who complete suicide. Movies and the media usually display those who commit suicide as people who wear black, harm themselves, are anti-social, or follow some kind of goth lifestyle. I have had the opportunity to meet many other families who have lost a loved one to suicide and I can tell you that the majority of these beloved ones who passed did not fit this stereotype. It is offensive and hurtful to not only the family of those who have lost someone to suicide, but to also the memory of the bereaved. I always felt like I had to explain myself to others in order to honor my brother’s memory after I told a stranger that he completed suicide because I knew that they most likely automatically categorized him as the stereotype of those who complete suicide.
I try to put myself in that stranger’s shoes and to see their perspective. I know it is not intentional because the stereotypes have been instilled in our brains, but is it easier for them to jump to these conclusions because then they don’t have to ask questions? So they can avoid what they think to be hurting you by asking about your lost loved one?
These negative stereotypes that we as a society have placed on those who are either addicts or alcoholics or depressed or bipolar or have completed suicide are absolutely outrageous and unacceptable to those who suffer from those terrible diseases and circumstances. So let’s not try to pigeonhole people and to get to know someone’s story. A lot of times we don’t take the time to do so because we think that it’s too intrusive or bold or that we may offend someone. But I think it’s better than placing stereotypes upon people. Don’t you?