11 People On The Negative Stereotypes That Make Them Anxious

Ambitious women are bitchy.

Americans are dumb.

Girls are supposed to be feminine.

Whether they're good or bad, stereotypes exist about nearly every group of people. At best, they're annoying and reductive; at worst, they can limit a person's potential (in their own mind and those of others).

Matt Lundquist, LCSW, a psychotherapist based in New York City, says they can result in something called stereotype threat, in which a person experiences anxieties about confirming a stereotype about their identity, whether that means their racial identity, sexual identity, or another group they identify with.

"In a sense, how we're seen can be a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy," he says. "All kinds of life circumstances can interfere with the ways an individual sees what's possible: success in marriage, getting their anger under control, achieving more professionally."

Stereotypes, he says, are a big part of this.

"An individual who was discouraged from pursuing a particular life path because of interlined ideas about their race, for example, [can] feel unfulfilled," Lundquist says.

And even when someone pushes ahead, despite a limiting stereotype, he says they can still find themselves needing to work harder to prove their worth — which, in turn, has a negative impact on their mental health.

In a study published in the The Journal of Adolescent Health last year, researchers found that rigid gender stereotypes could affect children as young as five, possibly making boys more prone to violence, and causing girls to be more likely to be victims of physical or sexual violence. And another study from 2016 suggested that the more men conformed to masculine norms, the poorer their mental health was.

Stereotypes are often unconscious and ingrained into us at early ages, and that's precisely what makes them so hard to shake. Even if you don't consciously think about them, they can still affect the way you think of yourself. With that in mind, we asked 11 people to share the negative stereotypes that make them anxious.

Being 'bitchy' because I'm assertive.

"Being 'bitchy' because I'm assertive and don't feel obligated to 'go with the flow' or be generally 'easygoing.' [I've] been called bossy literally my whole life as if it's a bad thing, but as Beyoncé says, 'I'm not bossy, I'm just the (fucking) boss.'" — Margaux, 30

Being considered an angry black woman.

"Being considered an angry black woman just for being outspoken or passionate about something." — Kira, 22

As a young and small Chinese-Canadian woman, I come up against a number of stereotypes.

"As a young and small Chinese-Canadian woman who's trying to kick ass in the tech sales world, I come up against a number of stereotypes. I sell to a world of white men who often value gender, race, and physical stature. I break the mold of your typical salesman, and while that often trips me up and makes it hard for me to hold my own in a room full of people, I'm learning to embrace it. I'm learning to embrace my size, age, bubbly demeanor, race, and gender to disarm people in a sales process." — Jane, 24

People assume we're all uneducated, gang-associating, non-English speakers who thrive off free government handouts.

"As a Mexican-American millennial living in the United States, I actively try to debunk the most common Mexican stereotypes that make other people assume we're all uneducated, gang-associating, non-English speakers who thrive off free government handouts.

My mom is from Mexico, but she married my dad, and so we were raised here in the states. However, my dad passed away when I was four, which meant my mom had to raise us on her own. She had to navigate the complicated world of finding a job while raising kids as a single mom in a land that was mostly foreign to her, all while being a non-native English language speaker. She worked hard every day from morning till evening to provide us with the most basic necessities and to pay the bills.

Her example of hard work is something that has stuck with me since I was little. I also remember her studying day and night to be able to pass the naturalization exam so she could become a U.S. citizen. She always pressed upon us the importance of abiding the laws and being grateful to live in a state where our freedoms were protected." — Kayleen, 22

I'm constantly stereotyped as the nagging bitch.

"I live with boys at [university]. Whenever I complain about something I'm constantly stereotyped as the nagging bitch, so I just avoid bringing anything up altogether. Meanwhile, they moan all the time and it's not viewed as 'naggy' in the least. Women have to tread on eggshells when it comes to stereotypes 'cause men don't even realize their own gender bias." — D, 22

I am not always strong.

"Angry Black Woman, super bionic STRENGTH that Black women have because Solange said I have the right to be mad.

I want to relish my emotions as they come and not have to censor/regulate them in fear of how other people will interpret them and hold it in, so it ends up with bitterness and passive aggressiveness. I want to acknowledge and be able to feel whatever and be mad or have moments when I am feeling anxious and not have to keep a pokerface at all times. In doing so, it humanizes this ideal that Black women have super bionic strength because of the plights we go through and still we rise.

I am not always strong, like many other people I am strong when I have to be and I want the idea of being a strong woman to be separate from what life throws at us." — Leonie, 21

I try to rebel by [being] open and honest with my sexuality with everyone.

"I am a white-passing Hispanic and a lesbian, [and] I get more shit being lesbian. I try to rebel by [being] open and honest with my sexuality with everyone. I also speak Spanish in places with racists." — Charity, 17

I feel like I have to rebel against that stereotype that my height makes me less of a force to reckon with.

"I'm 5' and look younger than my actual age, so I often get called 'cute.' I feel like when people say that, they are implying that I can't be taken seriously or I could never get upset.

I feel like I have to rebel against that stereotype that my height and my 'look' makes me less of a force to reckon with. I pride myself on speaking up for myself, being a strong-minded young woman, and not allowing for my values to weaken, so when I get called cute it feels like other people don't see me that way." — Natalie, 22

The constant assumptions — from straight and queer people alike — run the gamut.

"So I'm a queer woman in a long-term, different-sex relationship (i.e. with a dude), and UGHHHH. The constant assumptions — from straight and queer people alike — run the gamut from like, I chose this relationship/way of life simply because it was easiest and most privileged (not like, because I love the person or anything?!), I got with a dude so I could have a baby, I'm secretly a lesbian and have just somehow re-closeted, or I was actually straight all along and all my relationships with women were 'a phase.'

A close friend actually just recently referred to one of my epic, year-long relationships with a woman as my 'lesbian experimental person.' LIKE, WHAT??? WHICH PERSON?? WE ARE IN OUR THIRTIES, CAN WE BE DONE WITH THIS. Honestly I don't think I've gotten any better at dealing with it over the years; I seem to alternate between extremes — either shutting up and not mentioning my sexuality, or awkwardly re-coming-out an excessive number of times like, 'OH, THAT REMINDS ME OF THIS WOMAN I USED TO DATE...'" — Amelia, 32

Being a bad driver because I’m Asian.

"Being a bad driver because I’m Asian. Being moody because I’m a woman. Being submissive/compliant because I’m Asian." — Vivian, 24

That bisexuals are unfaithful and 'can’t choose' between genders and are 'greedy.'

"That bisexuals are unfaithful and 'can’t choose' between genders and are 'greedy.' I’ve heard this from multiple people, and it makes me so sad that people can be so wildly uninformed." — Brittany, 28

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