Movies and TV shows feed us stereotypes on every step. Whether we buy into them or not is an individual matter, but we should remember that a stereotype is not a universal truth, and if we take it to be such, chances are others do too, and that at one point or another we'll fall into one of the stereotypical categories and might not like it. How do you recognize a stereotype then, and how can you avoid categorizing people by these general statements? Is it even possible?
If you watch crime dramas, you must have noticed that any time there is a victim with several fillings or bad teeth, they're always pegged to be from Eastern Europe; in romantic comedies single women of certain age go crazy to find a husband or have a baby; and gay men have impeccable sense of style no matter what genre they're shown in. these and most other stereotypes may be a source of a lot of confusion and strange situations as we all know Americans with bad teeth, young women who think of marriage and older ones who want nothing to do with it, and as for stylish men, they're not all gay just like not all gay men are stylish.
There are some things safe to assume, but they're not really stereotypes. For example, if someone is into cooking, they for sure own some cookbooks, but not necessarily one on making sushi; someone working in web design definitely has a computer, but might not have a pen tablet; and a thirty something woman with a cat may simply be an animal lover, and not necessarily a lonely and sad single. Basically stereotype is one thing, and reality is quite another.
Looking at people in generalized categories and associating them stereotypically, like blonde equals dumb, skinny equals anorexic or quiet equals boring is an easy way to put people in their respective boxes and not bothering with them. But doing that you can miss out on getting to know a great person, someone funny, smart and friendly and that's why it's important to put all those stereotypes aside and treat people as individuals. If you can't get past all those generalizations, at least try giving others the benefit of a doubt, and you might get surprised.
Is it possible to rid yourself of all the stereotypes? Probably not, because they are a part of your upbringing, and then they're present in your adulthood as part of the popular culture; you can, however, try to confront and debunk them by being open to new people no matter what their race, political views, education, job or family status. You wouldn't want to be judged and categorized based on anything other than who you are, so you have to treat people the way you'd want to be treated. Next time you meet anyone wait until you get to know them before deciding if you want to hang out instead of deciding based on stereotypes. And when you watch TV, remember that it's only TV, so it has nothing to do with how individual people are.