Stereotyping is bad. I hope no one is offended that I said that. If you are, I don't want to hear about it. Technically, stereotypes aren't necessarily negative. I know this because we had to learn the distinction between the words estereotipo and prejuicio (prejudice) in three of my last five years of Spanish. The fact of the matter is that stereotypes make generalizations about groups of people, be it by race or gender or age.
I introduced this concept because I have recently been revelling in beating stereotypes. I love it. I love being a girl who knows her Star Wars and being from the South without being an uneducated hick. I love when the old ladies see me at church or in adoration and think "wow. there's a good one. you don't see many like her. it's great to see young people so involved" (alright, I can't read thoughts, but trust me, they say it with their eyes and when they smile and go back to their rosaries). I love watching the shows on MTV and congratulating myself for turning 18 without getting pregnant or owning a stripper pole. These are all great things.
Unfortunately, it's not so great when that image I'm trying to avoid (the "damn teenagers!" image) does not get to be proven wrong. Such as traffic jams or stop signs or just about any occasion I am behind the wheel. I am a decent driver. I've never been in an accident (at lease not one with two moving cars) and my mom has stopped gripping the dashboard every time she rides with me. However, make one awkward maneuver on your way back from the grocery store and you get honked at by some balding golfer who can be seen screaming obscenities at you from the comfort of his air conditioned Lexus. He is clearly thinking "crazy teenagers!" or "damn woman" or maybe even "I knew Obama supporters can't drive! they should be banned from the streets!" or one of the many stereotypical excuses he could use to explain my driving.
Worse still, sometimes there is just too much distance to fully explain oneself. example: At the beginning of the summer, I nannied for my aunt after her back surgery. This included carrying her 3 month old daughter around the house, walking the 7 yr old home from school etc. I mentioned before being proud of myself for not being a teen mother as I'm sure any alien race or foreign body assumes is about a 50 50 chance among my generation. However, when people stare at you in Target, you don't get a chance to say "Hey! She's not mine! I swear! I am not a skank!" Hence, the stereotype goes unchecked.
I used to welcome stereotypes as a challenge. A bar to rise above, a way to surprise people older than me who assume I'm just like the girls on Gossip Girl or worse, Bret Michaels' Rock of Love.
Now I give up. I can't surprise everyone. I've decided I'll make everyone else do the work to find out about me instead of wearing a shirt that says "I swear I'm not a Myspace ho."