Every country is guilty for having stereotypical ideas about people from other countries, but to what extent are these proven to be true?
In my experience, very rarely! Let’s take a couple of common British stereotypes about some other nations and look at how true they are:
“French people smell of garlic” – I can’t say I’ve ever smelt garlic on a French person…
“Frogs legs and snails form part of every French person’s staple diet” – They are traditional French delicacies but I’ve met French people who have never even tasted snails or frogs legs!
“The Spanish sleep all afternoon” – When most Spanish people go home for a ‘siesta’ they usually have a family meal rather than sleep.
“The Spanish always drink Sangria” – I’m yet to see a Spaniard drinking Sangria! You’re far more likely to catch them drinking beer.
Now we come to the internal British stereotypes, and trust me, there are plenty! A few examples: Scottish people dance around in kilts eating haggis, northerners have little intelligence and put sauce on everything, southerners are all posh snobs, the Welsh all live in valleys and enjoy the company of sheep and the Irish are all ginger and spend all their time drinking Guinness.
These are stereotypes which have existed for centuries but which have been heavily emphasised in recent years thanks to the popularity of reality TV. (Before anyone thinks I’m about to criticise the following programmes I will admit that I’m a keen follower of a couple of them! Shameful I know!)
First came The Only Way is Essex, a show which follows the lives of a selection of guys and gals from Essex. If you’re not familiar with the stereotypical Essex person, think fake tan, short skirts, hair extensions and cosmetic enhancements!
Following this was Made in Chelsea, a structured TV programme which gives a taste of the wealthy lifestyles led by the young social elites of Chelsea, in south-west London. Stereotypes include snobbery, plenty of champagne, exclusive parties and extravagant holidays.
Then there was Geordie Shore, set in Newcastle upon Tyne in north-east England. Geordie Shore has more of the shock factor than The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea, with wilder parties, big muscles, fake tan and plenty of sex.
With a similar set up to Geordie Shore, but set in Wales, is The Valleys. In this programme, a group of young people from the Welsh valleys move to Cardiff to find fame in various showbiz industries, and on the way do much of the same as the Geordie Shore lot!
All in the name of entertainment, these programmes adhere to the common stereotypes of people from these regions, thus emphasising people’s opinions and bringing them to life. We all know that these programmes only show the most extreme examples of these stereotypes and that the majority of people don’t look or behave in this way at all, but to many (although not everyone’s cup of tea), reality TV provides light entertainment and an escape from the normality of our own lives.
We’d love to hear more about regional stereotypes in your country and to what extent they are true. Get in touch!