My little sister has recently started cheerleading and today I attended a cheer competition for the first time. With my sister being the first in our family to try cheerleading my mother and I had no idea what to expect walking into that gym.
But, one thing that I remembered walking into that gym was a presentation I had listened to in my English class the Friday before. We had had our annual day of dialogue at my school, and in English I listened to a presentation about stereotyping. The presenter talked about stereotyping and the negative effects it can have on the person being stereotyped. We also did an exercise where we had a label of a commonly stereotyped group on our back and other people asked us questions and made comments based on that label so we could figure out what it said. This exercise really showed how often we witnessed or were a part of stereotyping because many of us didn’t struggle to come up with things to say or to figure what our label said.
This came to my mind because most people know that there is definitely a widespread stereotype for cheerleaders. I know a few cheerleaders at school and knew that they didn’t follow this stereotype but since I had never been to a full scale cheer competition I did not know what to expect. So in response to this I decided to walk into that gym with an open mind. And as a result I learned many things about cheerleaders. First of all, what they do is definitely not easy, and is also very dangerous. Second, the teams are all very supportive of the others even their direct competitors. Lastly, they are all very proud of what they do no matter what other have to say about it.
So today I had a first-hand experience in how stereotyping in inaccurate. So next time you try something for the first time or meet someone for the first time, keep an open mind. You never know what you will learn from it.
“First place Fulton! Good job!”