DURBAN – Racism Stops With Me interns from the Young Independents and MoJo teamed up to speak about their social stereotypes by coming up with I am not my stereotype project.

This happened last week at the Studio Independent where each and every one of them decided to express their feelings under the motto “I am not my stereotype.” Their messages were based on racial issues, gender issues, religions, marriage, also on other issues like hair, beauty and how people judge them based on what they wear.

Stereotypes have hurtful impact in people’s lives; some live in fear because they are afraid to disappoint those that expect only the best from them. Here are the meanings of stereotypes that were chosen by each member of the team:

“I am not my hair” – Phumla Ngcobo

“People like to make you feel uncomfortable about the professionalism of your hair, it is not like I read or write with my hair”, said Phumla Ngcobo, a MoJo intern from Underberg.

“I am not going to spend my life being colour” – Bhavnesh Sannasi

Sannasi says he chose this as his quote because he feels strongly about racial stereotypes. “In my personal life I always tend to fight those who perpetuate stereotypes, these stereotypes are what those around us see immediately and therefore define us by them” he explains. Sannasi added by saying that he does not feel it should be presumed that he is everything the next Indian person is.

“I am not ghetto” – Ntozinhle Nkomo

“This stereotype comes from the way people are so judgemental about the way I dress, some people can write a story and come into conclusion about you because of your clothes” she says. Nkomo concluded by saying that wearing toned jeans or sneakers does not make you a lesbian and it does not mean that you are ghetto.

“I am beautiful, no matter what they say” – MaryAnne Issac

“I was always a beautiful child growing up and I guess that made me comfortable and confident” says Isaacs. “Whenever I angered my mother she would tell me that I looked ugly, this made me sad and weakened my self esteem” she added. Isaacs concluded by saying that she believed her mother’s words until she started high school and now she tries to encourage and inspire other young girls to love themselves and believe they are beautiful no matter what people may say.

“Short hair is also beautiful” – Phindile Shozi

“People tend to think that having a short hair is because you don’t have money to do your hair or you are not beautiful like girls with weaves and anything besides short hair” says Shozi.

“Being married does not mean I can not be myself” – Thabile Chonco

“Whenever I am being me in front of people who are my age they would say it is unacceptable for a married person” she explains. Chonco added by saying she wish people could stop criticising young married people because they are also allowed to have fun and joke around.

“Having black lipstick does not mean that I am satanic” – Londiwe Gumede

“I usually come across people who associate anything with black with being evil, if I wear black lipstick and I am not Goth would just scream Satanist to my family and neighbours” says Gumede. “This linear stereotype is really uncalled for and very much ignorant” she added. Gumede added by saying that she wants people to understand that it is just lipstick and it does not mean she is evil in any way. She says she wears it because of the love she has for fashion, the colour black and music, therefore in a way she is prone to wearing a whole black outfit, listening to rock music and rocking my black lipstick.

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