Positive stereotypes: The overlooked oxymoron

Itzia X. Casas, Columnist

Stereotypes. According to Merriam-Webster, a stereotype is: “Something conforming to a fixed or general pattern. Especially: a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment.”

Stereotypes tend to be held by people or groups of people outside of the communities they have the beliefs about. Most of the time, stereotypes are seen as negative as they generalize an entire population to simple behaviors or acts that paint a negative picture for everyone else. 

However, more and more we see “positive stereotypes” playing a role in media, falling onto society’s beliefs.

Examples of these “positive stereotypes” are The kind, nurturing women, the hardworking Mexican, the strong Black women, and so many more.

Although at first glance these may seem to have a positive notion, in reality, it is a lot deeper than that. These worldwide beliefs cause people to undermine the struggles and challenges that people within these stereotypes go through and lead to less empathy and change. 

Time and time again, we see all women being used, underpaid, and expected to keep quiet because of the mentality that they are “understanding” and very “patient.”

Ideals like these lead to an overwhelming underappreciating of women who do everything that a man does, yet are held to high standards, and receive lower rewards. 

For decades, Mexicans, or people of Mexican decent have been grouped together and called hardworkingly, tough, and reliant, which are great things to be called as an individual, but when these beliefs are placed on an entire population. These expectation for everyone increases and unconsciously allows for people to believe that hard work is the only thing Mexicans are expected to do, tying their value to the amount of work they can provide.

 One example of this happening is when Kelly Osborne stated on The View, “If you kick every Latino out of this country, then who is going to be cleaning your toilet, Donald Trump?” This, fortunately, was received with lots of people speaking out on how unaware, and tone-deaf the statement was, and shortly after, Osborne apologized stating she meant it in a different way. 

Historically in America, Black people have faced enormous struggles and yet, many people do not see the magnitude of the issues and challenges they are facing because of “positive stereotypes.”

The stereotype of “Strong Black women” is used to empower the women in that community however, it also lets other people turn their back to the rampant problems because they think they are strong and can handle so well.

National beliefs like these lead to a lack of urgency in other people. 

They see how many black women go through every day and how they handle it instead of focusing on how to stop the problems that they are facing.

It invalidates everything they are going through because people believe that it cannot be that bad, and think they are empowering when in reality they can be causing more harm by not acting upon these issues. 

Stereotypes will always have a hold on society, but it is important to think about the origin, and their true meaning, and see how much damage versus good are they really portraying, despite being “good” or “bad” stereotypes.