Loud, obnoxious, rebellious, out of control, and up to no good… these are just a few of a wide number of stereotypes that are attributed to American teenagers. What is it about teenagers that make the rest of society seem to turn against them? I believe that there are many misconceptions about teenagers. Many people in different generations sincerely believe that all teenagers are up to no good, and are guaranteed trouble no matter where they are. I am not arguing that teenagers like that don’t exist, because there are plenty of them out there, but it bothers me that one type of teenager has been able to spoil the image of all other teenagers.
Personally I think that these stereotypes apply more to me because I am a male. In addition to being a male teenager, I also have noticed that people think negatively of me because I wear a longer hair style than what is typically expected in society. Some people grow long hair to show rebellion, or to be unique, but I wouldn’t classify myself into either of those categories, I simply enjoy having it more than short hair. But because of that, many members of society link certain stereotypes of male teenagers to me because I show long hair. I could be considered many different things including: rebellious, troubled, angry, arrogant, or any other sort of stereotype out there. How could anyone possibly claim to know all of these false accusations simply based on my age, and my gender?
At times it can be bothersome when people take certain precautions around teenagers, because they believe that we are all reckless, and dangerous. Parents will cross to the opposite side of the street with their kids, people clear sidewalks when walking, other drivers tense up on the road, and all while this is happening, other people will keep one eye carefully watching, just to make sure that all of the rotten teenagers don’t do anything dangerous. I sometimes think that people see me and other teenagers as giant, shiny explosives that are about to detonate, so everyone else needs to distance themselves as much and as quickly as possible.
Just because a teenager happens to be walking around outside, that should in no way trigger a response where people feel that it isn’t safe to be near teenagers. Although it does bother me, I can also see a point of view where I would do the same thing. If I saw someone outside that looked a little bit off-beat to me, I would most likely go a different path as well. However, that raises the question, why does society take in all of these stereotypes and live all of their lives believing false statements?
All of it is ridiculous I believe. Anyone that knows me will be able to explain that I am the exact opposite of a stereotypical teenager, so no one should need to take precautions if they see me out somewhere. A stereotypical teenager would most likely be thought of being connected to alcohol, tobacco, and drugs in some way, shape, or form; I on the other hand do not do any of those things, and am strongly against them. Because I do not consider myself anywhere close to a stereotypical teenager, it does bother me when people mistake me for doing those types of activities. All of these common stereotypes don’t do any good for the people who actually work hard, and try to do something with their lives. For many people, stereotyping does more than just become a bothersome hassle. For a handful of teenagers, the effect of stereotyping makes them feel pressured into behaving like a stereotypical teenager.
For example, some people do drugs and alcohol because they are expected to by society’s stereotypes, so someone may think, “Oh, I am a teenager now, I guess because other people are drinking then I have to as well.” I don’t even see peer pressure as that much of an issue here, people tend to start drinking or doing drugs voluntarily; more often than not, there isn’t peer pressure that is forcing them into doing something. And that creates an entire roundabout of madness. To simplify this; many people start acting like stereotypical teenagers, because they feel that they need to in order to be a “normal” teenager. But that in turn makes society cast out teenagers, when it is actually those same members of society who created these stereotypes for teenagers to follow. In reality, there are several statistics that illustrate a decline in teenage drug abuse, alcoholism, and teenage pregnancy, yet stereotypes still exist (Poole).
Are all teenagers loud, obnoxious, rebellious, out of control, and up to no good? Obviously not, there is no way that every single teenager in the world could fit that description. And yet, society still labels every teenager in the world by a description very similar to that. The few teenagers that live a life similar to that have managed to destroy the image of every teenager that happens to be a good kid. It seems that hardworking, determined, and honest teenagers don’t have a place in the world anymore. They are out there, and ready to be noticed, but the rest of society has chosen to view them in the same manner as the bad crowds that exist in the teenage population. Quite strange, that the model teenager that is acceptable in society is not taken seriously. Why does society view superior teenagers that way? It is not only teenagers; it is everybody in the world. No person will ever be right in prejudicing someone, no matter who they are.
Courtney from Study Moose
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