Last night, I sat on the couch and watched UFC The Ultimate Fighter (in which contestants fight their way towards a contract with the UFC). I’m really enjoying this show. At the same time, I was knitting a sweater.
Knitting and UFC. You might not put those things together very often.
But why not?
I realised how often our lives are influenced by stereotypes and assumptions. Even in the UFC show, the victorious female fighter, Julianna Pena, felt the need to point out that just because she liked getting dressed up and looking like a girl, didn’t mean she couldn’t fight well. Why should we assume that a woman who likes to wear make-up doesn’t have what it takes to be a UFC fighter?
Lou Tice at the Pacific Institute, describes stereotypes beautifully:
“Stereotypes are thought-saving devices, because when you accept a stereotype, you don’t have to think for yourself at all. Your idea comes to you frozen, prepackaged, ready to use. You just thaw it out and slip it into your brain like a microwave – nothing further is required.”
When we can free ourselves from those stereotypes, we can free ourselves to live a much more fulfilling life. We free ourselves simply to enjoy what we enjoy doing.
If I tell you there is a woman who:
- Practises Karate.
- Likes rugby.
- Used to teach rifle shooting.
- Drinks pints of beer.
does that conjure up a particular image in your head?
Then I tell you there is a woman who:
- Likes fashion and make-up, and worked in the bridal fashion industry.
- Studied ballet keenly growing up.
- Loves baking pretty cupcakes.
- Has drawers full of crafting materials in her home.
does this conjure up a different image?
What if I told you that all these enthusiasms belong to ONE WOMAN?
That woman is, in fact, ME.
Challenge the one-size-fits-all stereotype, step away from the generalised assumption of what people (including yourself) should be like based on one aspect of their lives. Celebrate the many sides to yourself, and revel in your individuality.
© Copyright Liz Wootton, 2013. All Rights Reserved