Label volunteer, Leah Langley, speaks of the common stereotypes men and women face, as well as the concept of what a family is.
Stereotypes are a part of everyday life, whether we like them or not. They can be good or bad, but one thing is for sure, they have a definite impact on our daily lives. A stereotype label’s a group of people on the idea that they all share one characteristic, and whether this label is good or bad can seriously impact an individual. Labelling a whole group under one ideal is taking away their individual identities and it removes anything that makes the individual unique. Understanding stereotypes and working to remove them has become a key focus as of late, as the effects of stereotypes are more widely felt.
Some common stereotypes derive from gender concepts. Women are often expected to be “motherly” and “more in touch with their emotions,” whilst men are expected to be “independent,” “good at sport,” and “physically strong.” Whilst some of these labels might sound positive, they can be harmful in nature. The idea that all women are motherly is an ideal that is quickly being revoked as some women do not have any maternal instincts, or even like children. Whilst it might seem ‘normal’ to assume that all women want to be mothers, the changing lifestyles that are becoming more prominent in today’s society prove that, oftentimes, there are women who have no desire to have children and decide to focus their desires elsewhere. The notion that men should be “independent” is perhaps one of the most damaging ideas in today’s society as it can often mean that men who are particularly close with their families face ridicule for being “a momma’s boy,” and it can also be harmful when it comes to them asking for help. Due to the stereotypes that have evolved over the years, it is often the case that men really struggle to reach out for help when they need it. Sadly, 1 in 8 men are estimated to have a common mental health problem, in the UK, but less than half of those suffering seek help due to fear of being judged or thought of as “weak.” So, whilst these stereotypes may have started without anticipating harm, and wanting to be seen in a positive way, it is particularly hard to dismiss their effects.
Another common stereotype that is known worldwide refers to the idea of “The Nuclear Family,” which states a family as being one that contains; a mother, a father, and children. The stereotypical family used to have the father working outside the home and the mother staying home to care for the children and the home. Nowadays, there are more women than ever in the workforce, divorce rates are rising, and there is a growing number of single-parent households and other family structures which have become the norm. The change in family structure has been put down to better health, longevity, economic development, migration and many other factors which have seen the typical family structures develop.
Other stereotypes sit within the world of sport. Certain body-types have become associated with certain sports, and we all have images of what we expect certain athletes to look like. Oftentimes, this is due to the body-types being the most advantageous to success in a certain sport, but this has been shown to affect the participation rates in younger children and has affected the number of people moving into sports.
Stereotypes have become a bigger part of everyday life, but we cannot ignore the implications that these have.
Header by Label’s Assistant Head of Design Christos Alamaniotis