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Featured Blog Post #5: “Stereotypes are devices for saving a biased person the trouble of learning…”

By Elysabethe Brown, sophomore communication arts major

When I was younger my family didn’t have a lot of money. With three other sisters, a stay at home mom, and my dad working as a pastor, things were pretty tight sometimes. I remember getting hand me downs from my older sisters (something I was really not a fan of). We didn’t have the newest video game systems like a lot of my friends had (see? I don’t even know the names of said “video game systems” because they were so far out of my reach). And my mom occasionally had to say no to stuff that I wanted to buy. But I never worried about where my food would come from. I have never had the experience of waking up and wondering what I would eat or where we would go to get food. And with 48.8 million Americans living in food insecure households in 2010 alone, I can’t imagine the embarrassment that so many people have to face.  The guilt of someone having to stand  in line to get food from a soup kitchen on their lunch break. Or the shame that a parent must feel while loading up their car with free food from a food pantry.

While doing some research about hunger the other day I came across an article that talked about the effects that hunger and poverty have in the lives of children. It said that chronic stress is a result of living in poverty and being food insecure. I believe that a lot of this stress comes from dealing with their peers. When I was younger I constantly tried to hide the fact that my family didn’t have a lot of money. Even though none of my friends were by any means wealthy,( a lot of them were just like me!) I remember lying about certain things to to conceal the truth. I can’t believe the amount of stress I had when lying to my friends. First of all, I felt guilty. Secondly, I was always contradicting myself. Thirdly, I just didn’t understand why my lies couldn’t be reality-this was probably the most stressful one to me!

Living in a middle class family, getting food whenever I wanted, wearing hand-me-downs, going to Disney World every year for vacation, and having my parents tell me “no” once in a while is by no means considered “poverty.” But still, I felt stress at such a young age because I wanted to measure up to (and maybe even above) my friends. If I felt this way living in a middle class home I cannot even begin to imagine how people feel when they really are in poverty.

As I said before my group is doing “Social Stigma.”  This is something I am so interested in. I often wonder if the stereotypes we hear about are even true. I am willing to do the research and learn for myself the truth. So keep reading and find out with me!

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About Lindsey Wotanis

Assistant professor of communication arts. Lover of writing, YouTube, and peanut butter.

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