How Stereotypes Are Harmful

Image via National Alliance on Mental Illness

Stereotypes have been prevalent for ages, and are still being used today, even with all the negative connotations that are attached to them. In today’s society, many people are aware that stereotypes are harmful and damaging to the race, gender, sexuality, and mental illness that they are directed towards. Once stereotypes become ingrained in people’s minds, stigmas start developing, which can lead to discrimination, prejudice, and falsified beliefs. Examples of harmful stereotypes are:

  1. Gay men are less masculine than straight men
  2. Girls have less skill in STEM than boys
  3. All Jews are greedy

People may think that some stereotypes are good and not harmful, but that’s not the case. In fact, any stereotype is deemed negative due to the consequences of the assumptions that it causes. Here are some examples of “positive” stereotypes that are, indeed, not positive, and should be avoided along with every other stereotype:

  1. Asians perform better in math
  2. All Indians are doctors
  3. Black males have greater athletic ability than other races and genders

While these “positive” stereotypes may not seem toxic, these beliefs can very well affect peoples’ mental health, physical performances, and how they are viewed and treated by others; just as negative stereotypes have this effect.

Stereotyping may not seem like a big deal, and many people even go so far as to justify stereotypes by using examples of how the stereotype is right, but stereotypes have drastic negative effects on individuals and groups of people. Instead of using stereotypes to judge and get to know people, try seeing every person that you meet and come across for who they are, and not what specific stereotypes may group them as. This way, we can let go of these harmful ideas and treat people accordingly—not based on what or who society thinks they should be.