Imagining a world without gender stereotypes

Jenna Preston

More stories from Jenna Preston

A graphic created on displaying all of the stereotypes for both genders

I frequently question what type of person I’d be if so many gender stereotypes weren’t installed on me as a child, along with everyone else I knew. If gender roles and expectations didn’t exist, I don’t think I’d be the same young woman I am today.

I genuinely believe that my entire being and personality might’ve turned out differently. I think it’s common for every girl and boy to suffer at the hands of some stereotype placed on them, most times at a young age, and it molds you into the person you mature into. 

I wonder what I would do, what I would wear, what I’d say without uncertainty, what I would desire or find fascinating, what I would be if these ideals weren’t placed on me. There’s so much to reconsider. The likelihood of any of us being anything close to who we are right now looking pretty slim if we didn’t feel like we had to follow some outline based on our gender. 

Perhaps you wouldn’t even prefer the style you have right now if things were different. Maybe you’d have other hobbies, pursuits, music taste, cravings, or relationships. I question what type of woman I would be today if I hadn’t been told from the day I was born how I should behave, dress, color to like, what interests are correlated with my gender, and the mannerisms I should follow. 

Would I still enjoy wearing makeup and all the “girly” things I wear and like? Do I only like makeup because I’ve been conditioned to feel better about my appearance with it on?

There are so many what-ifs that are just impossible to answer. Still, it’s intriguing to think about how much things like this really shape you without even realizing it. Would my favorite color always be pink all of the elementary and middle school if that wasn’t the standard color assigned to all young girls with their clothes, bedrooms, and toys?

Would I have stood up for myself at a young age if I wasn’t told that it’s “not girly or feminine” to talk obnoxiously or too loud? Would I want to wear skirts, play with glitter and Barbie dolls, and have crushes on boys in my class that was considered the most sporty and boyish if that wasn’t the conventional feeling at that age?

Would I still want long hair if everyone didn’t associate long hair with female beauty? How different would I be? 

Now that I’m self-aware enough to even ask these types of questions, I’d like to believe that I genuinely enjoy the things I actually like in my life. I’m not sure how many things I’d change about myself if every standard was removed from my life. How much, or how little, would I resemble myself now?

I think that’s the golden question.

I’d like to think that I’m finally pursuing the interests and passions that genuinely intrigue me rather than associating them to some expectations I’m supposed to accommodate.

Have you ever thought about this?