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This is what happens when you assume

March 18th, 2010

I’m short and pale. I straighten my hair every day and I’ve never worn sweat pants to class. While I like to think I dress nicely, my clothes aren’t all name brand, and lately I’ve been carrying a backpack that I’ve had since fifth grade. When I’m on campus, if I’m not in class I’m probably in the newsroom. 

Most likely, I sound pretty boring. If you tried to fit me into a stereotype I’d probably be a typical girl, a little geeky, and definitely a Carroll News member—whatever stereotype that equates to.

But, what if instead I described myself like this … 

Tanning is a priority for me. I like to look so brown that others may think I’m tinted orange. Large pearl earrings are a common accessory for me. Name brands are very important. In the winter I’ll be in Ugg boots and a North Face coat. When I feel like being comfortable you will probably find me wearing Victoria’s Secret PINK sweatpants. 

I am passionate about taking a stand. Whenever possible I like to sacrifice things others take for granted. I think my facial piercing makes me different. I always try to buy organic and Fair Trade clothing because I like what it symbolizes and the impact it makes on society. I like challenging your views and probably don’t agree with your ideals. 

This campus is my life. I am a mentor for the students. On a Saturday night I can be found in a room working and doing homework. I like to eat with the same people for breakfast, lunch and dinner and when I have free time I usually spend it with them. I don’t like to get people in trouble, but when someone is breaking the rules, it is my job to point it out.

I like T-shirts with funny sayings like, “Go ahead, make my data!” I love computers, except when they aren’t working properly, but it’s OK, I usually know how to fix them. My friends are interested in the same things and you’re welcome to hang out with us, but you might have trouble understanding our technical terms.

I definitely enjoy the party scene. Rehab is like a vacation. I like to change my hairstyle. I used to think red hair was cute, but dark brown is sexy. I’ve dated a few guys, but now I’m giving girls a chance. I am well endowed both physically and monetarily. Oh, and if you defame my name I will sue you, even if you do it with a cute talking baby.

Lindsay Lohan might say in that last one I was trying to describe her, and I should probably be a little nervous. Last week Lohan filed a $100 million lawsuit against E-Trade for their 2010 Super Bowl commercial. In the E-Trade commercial the recognizable “talking babies” discussed their dating lives. The female baby accused the male of hanging out with a boyfriend stealing girl named Lindsay.  Baby Lindsay was also referred to as a “milkaholic.” According to Lohan, this was E-Trade’s way of making a direct nod to her partying lifestyle. 

So what? I’m willing to bet a few people are offended by this column, but here’s the thing: I didn’t call out anyone. In fact, if you reread it, I say I’m giving alternate descriptions of myself. I didn’t even associate my descriptions as the stereotypes of certain groups. If you think it was a direct insult to someone, you created that theory on your own. But maybe stereotypes hold greater power than we think. Maybe they help us identify people, and maybe Lohan is justified in her lawsuit. But in the end, if stereotypes are just assumptions then it looks like we’re just all guilty of making an ass out of you and me.