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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!


About Lindsey Wotanis

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

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