Through the different components of communication we notice certain practices and habits. One solid practice our entire society has is to generalize and stereotype. It’s hard, I will admit that; since beginning my time in the communication program, and these nasty habits being brought to my attention, I’ve really tried to stop myself. How does this relate to you? Think about everyday conversations with friends at school. A prime example is conversation at d-hall; watch what you say next time. It’s almost a guarantee that from people watching that you will generalize or stereotype one person. I’m not saying this is on purpose at all; I feel horrible when looking back, however, generalizing has become almost second nature in our society. Anna faces this problem every game day when displaying her “masculine” body. People will automatically assume that because she doesn’t look like a “natural” or “regular” cheerleader that she is on stevedores or possibly a different gender. This generalizing or assuming could also be seen as “symbolic interactionism”.
Symbolic Interactionism is “individuals learn to participate competently in their society and to share its values through communication with others.” (Wood, 2003) Through symbolic interactionism, girls are usually taught through their peers and family members the usual practices of a young lady. (i.e. be “lady like”, play with dolls, and wear pink) “Symbolic interactionism makes it clear that the process of defining a personal self is inevitably a social process that reflects the views of others we have incorporated into our own perspectives.” (Wood, 53) The beautiful thing about Anna though is that she doesn’t care! She admits that it’s not exactly easy but she’s happy doing exactly what she’s doing. ‘”It was hard for a girl, because psychologically, you’re like, ‘I don’t want to gain any weight, whether it’s muscle or not,’ Waston said. “And a lot of girls and even a lot of people [in] in society look down on girls with a lot of muscle…”‘ (Glaser, 2012) Anna is fighting against stereotypes daily, and the amazing thing is that she’s in love with her body, even if it is considered extremely “masculine”.
Anna is a successful athlete. She has been involved in two different sports her entire life: gymnastics and cheerleading. I find this amazing that she continues to be apart of the University of Georgia cheerleading squad even though she may be criticized for her physique. She is not only a physically strong woman, however, she is also a very strong woman emotionally wise. Anna is proof that yes symbolic interactionism is everywhere, however, not everyone is extremely influenced by it. Anna Watson is a beautiful woman, on the inside and out.
Wood, J. (2003). Communication, gender, and culture. Chapel Hill, NC: Thomson Wadsworth