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Stereotypes

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Submitted By dudehey
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Stereotypes are things that we as humans wish we could sometimes avoid. Many of us hold stereotypes with conviction and many of us hold stereotypes that can be easily shaped through open minded experience. Making assumptions about another person, especially one you’ve never personally met, is essentially judging a book by its cover. Whether certain stereotypes are true or not for a given person or group, they actually have a significant effect on the identities of both the person being stereotyped and the person stereotyping. Having a presence on the internet as a YouTube video creator and as a rising natural bodybuilder, I am actively viewed and stereotyped by thousands of people on a daily basis. Many people are convinced that I took steroids or diuretics to get to the (far from amazing in my opinion) muscularity and conditioning that I displayed in many pictures I took in 2011. I am stereotyped as being obsessed about everything under the umbrella of bodybuilding, from food to training. I’ve learned that all of these stereotypes that I deal with online and offline help shape my identity, but fortunately in positive ways. “Roids!” That’s one of the most frequent words a successful bodybuilder hears. Why in the world would I want to be associated with taking steroids or any performance or cosmetic enhancing drugs? There’s something special about being a pure, 100% natural bodybuilder that differentiates it from being one of the big guys you’ve seen before in magazines. Not that I have anything against steroid users, but in terms of natural bodybuilding, there really is no deception; what you see is what you get. Being a lifetime natural bodybuilder, whenever I see the comment “Roids!” pop up on a video of mine or hear from a friend that so and so accused me of taking steroids, deep down I feel proud inside. To me, steroid accusations are compliments. I know that there are natural bodybuilders way more impressive and experienced than me, so it throws more wood into the internal fire to reach and surpass their level; it excites me. This same pride and excitement fuels my workouts and my drive to better myself. It also has driven me to help show and teach others what is possible, naturally. The stereotype of steroids has essentially empowered me to further progress my sport and help others along with me. Another stereotype, with which bodybuilders constantly receive, is the accusation of being obsessed. A person reads in a magazine that to be a bodybuilder, so and so has to eat particular kinds of food eight times a day, and has to train 4 hours a day in the gym, so on and so forth. That’s quite literally what the population thinks. They think we sacrifice everything in order to win. That could be nothing further from the truth for me and the rising individuals and groups in natural bodybuilding. While there is much sacrifice required to achieve a high level of success, it doesn’t have to be as intense, dark, and gloomy as the media portrays it. I’ll admit that the vast majority of those who get into bodybuilding become obsessed with it in many negative ways, but those who succeed far above the rest are generally those whose lives are the most balanced, those who keep their passion from turning into a complete, unhealthy obsession, and those with incredible support from family and friends. In the past, I’ve had family and friends believe me to be obsessed. That’s because I was soaked up with the lies, myths, and “sacrifice to win” mentality thrown around on the internet and in magazines. Later on when I hired coaches, my hobby of choice, bodybuilding, became so much easier for me. I didn’t have to train three to four hours a day, eat specific kinds of foods, or eat a specific amount of times per day. Everything “obsessive” was literally thrown out the window, and I’d been getting better results than ever. The stereotype of being obsessed now serves as a reminder for me to keep my life in balance, and to teach and show others how it’s possible to keep their lives balanced as well. In Lois Gould’s X: A Fabulous Child’s Story, the parents believe that “X is a Problem Child. X is the Biggest Problem Child we have ever seen!” X turned out to be in the words of the examiners, the “least mixed up child we’ve ever Xamined!” (Gould, 173). Similarly, I feel that I, as well as many successful individuals who share my passion, are hardly as mixed up as everyone assumes we are. Although there are many stereotypes I will refute, there are some stereotypes that I will accept. Those regarding being a hard worker, I accept. Those about being dedicated and unstoppable, I accept. I have plenty of desire, dedication, and discipline when it comes to my hobby. When I pick a goal, I don’t let anything come in my way, whether I’m doing a competition or lifting a weight. On the other side of the coin is the stereotype that outside of the gym I’m a lazy, unproductive slob. In most aspects, that is simply not true. I’ve made it clear to myself that life doesn’t revolve around going to the gym or eating every two to three hours. I have family and friends, as well as a wonderful girlfriend who I’ve been with for over 3 years whom I care deeply about. Though I may be a bit disorganized at times, I have much inner drive to go beyond the stereotype. I’ve essentially been self employed for over two years and I’m building a quite successful business for myself. I’m a third year college student and I’ve been getting pretty good grades. I know that many people think I put bodybuilding in front of everything else, but when it comes down to it, it’s only one of many passions of my life. I’m very fortunate for bodybuilding, for my work ethic and dedication in it has crossed over into other areas of my life, helping me improve myself as a person. Perhaps my favorite thing about most of the stereotypes I come across is knowing that they’re false and showing others that they are false. When one accuses me of taking steroids, besides knowing the truth, I know that I’ve taken urine tests and a polygraph test to be able to compete in the organizations that I chose. I can show him or her pictures of others who are natural and show them that I’m pretty common in comparison to others who do what I do. When someone accuses me of being obsessed, I know they know little about my daily habits; chances are they do it out of ignorance or envy. “Obsessed is a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated,” the late Aziz “Zyzz” Shavershian once said. Being fully aware of both sides of these stereotypes, the truth and the misconceptions, I am in the position to let all of them empower me. I am also in the position to avoid heavy arguments, as I know that patience and leading by example is more convincing than retaliation and unnecessary debate. Plus, I know that I don’t have to prove anything to anybody. Although it may seem like all I’m trying to do is prove many of these stereotypes wrong, I’m really just trying to extract anything I can from them to better myself and others in both muscle and in mind.…...

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