Negative Stereotypes Behind Bad & Ugly Gossip: People In General

In September 2017, I attended the Woman and Spirituality Conference in Rochester, Minnesota. The Diversity Council of Rochester offered the workshop “Ally Bootcamp For Courageous People”, led by executive director Dee Vazquez Sabol. I participated in the workshop and learned valuable strategies for a variety of situations. I adapted some of those strategies into Strategies For Shattering Stereotypes. Those strategies are at the end of this post. I recommend both the Women and Spirituality Conference and the Diversity Council.

The research into gossip goes back at least to the middle of the 20th century. Both men and women research gossip. Putting all of their research together, gossip is talk and writing about people — both other people and ourselves — in family, social, workplace, and public settings.

Both men and women gossip. I have more than one source stating that men gossip more than women. One source was a replication of an earlier study’s finding that old men gossiped the most. The replicated study found that old men do indeed gossip the most. However, old men gossip the most because they have the time and opportunity to gossip. Women who’ve spent their lives caring for others still do the work of daily living when they are old. Old men — especially in the middle of the 20th century — never faced cooking and cleaning and laundry expectations.

As a child in the 1950s, I lived next to a Protestant minister and his wife. Both were elderly. The minister had time and opportunity to gossip while his wife took in extra laundry to pay bills. When the minister felt like having a piece of pie, he would get his wife into the car and drive to a restaurant. No matter what the weather, the minister made his wife stay in the car while he went inside for pie and gossip. When the wife needed glaucoma surgery, the minister insisted she return to her household duties days later instead of six weeks later. The minister’s mid-20th century religious belief assured him that his desire for pampering was more important than his wife’s need for recovery. You can see how this elderly wife had little time and opportunity for gossip. The entire neighbor sighed in relief when the minister died first.

Much of the research shows that gossip is both positive and negative. I define gossip as good, bad, or ugly. Good gossip ignores or breaks stereotypes while bad and ugly gossip are based on negative stereotypes.

Negative stereotypes exist about everyone, no matter their age, gender, race, religion, profession, etc. These stereotype blog posts will help you understand the negative stereotypes about you. Each post will focus on one or two or a few characteristics.

My collection of stereotypes comes from books, magazines, newspapers, movies, television shows, radio programs, news shows, conversations, etc.

Stereotypes and categories overlap at times. I create categories of stereotypes as I have stereotype examples to put into those categories.


I started collecting stereotypes for an appendix in a book on gossip power. I recorded many of the citations in the index for the gossip book. As of today, I have 22 typed pages of just stereotypes and a cardboard box with more stereotypes. Eventually, I will separate the stereotype citations from the gossip book index and create a master list of all stereotype citations. It will be awhile, however.

I am publishing the stereotypes without citations because the sooner you know about them the sooner you can take action to counter the stereotypes other people use about you. Also, knowing about the stereotypes can help you avoid the negative consequences of using bad and ugly gossip. If you use negative stereotypes about other people, you are inviting other people to use negative stereotypes about you.

All stereotypes will be listed on this blog rather than in my book. There are just too many stereotypes to include all of them in the book.

Stereotype Updates

After I finish posting my 22 pages of stereotypes, I will start on my box of stereotypes. I will update the categories in each stereotype blog post as I come across them. New stereotype examples in each category will be underlined.

Make sure to read the Points to Ponder at the end of this post.

Negative Stereotypes About People In General
Listed In No Particular Order

The Relationship Between Men & Women


Beautiful People









rotten lovers

too impatient to work at relationships

Physically Unattractive People

political radicals (which stereotypes political radicals negatively)

homosexual (which stereotypes homosexuals negatively)

Geeks (Nerds)

real pains



social outcasts



less trustworthy

can’t be taken seriously




less attractive






Short People




Heavy People





unable to control self

unable to maintain personal health

take up too much space

Heavy Men


low self-esteem

lack will power

few friends






Heavy Women

few friends





low self-esteem

lack will power

Thin Men

few friends

Thin Women




Women In Jane Austen’s Time

laughing is a sign of sexual availability

showing teeth is a sign of being garrulous, plebeian, vulgar


extensions of women

Crack Babies


lost generation

permanently damaged


juvenile delinquents


bubble gum chewers

hormone laden slobs




Elderly People









slow moving






incapable of making effective decisions

deserve to die

An Unhealthy Old Age Is…

a punishment for living “wrong”

Single Parent Families


Children From Single Parent Families

end up in trouble

low self-esteem

behavior problems

Birth Mothers



abandoned her own flesh and blood





dope head





AIDs carrier

slick manipulator

Birth Fathers

drops out of sight





drug user


AIDs carrier

slick manipulator

Adopted Children

screwed up



burden to the family

yearn to find birth parents

Government Officials

tell lies

cover up the truth

engage in conspiracies to deprive citizens of their  liberty

People Not Part Of Organized Religions, Conspicuous Consumption, Car Culture


mentally ill

People Who Report Being Abducted By Aliens


inclined to fantasize

have a propensity to daydream

enthralled by novels


represent everyone in their ethnic group or religion

feel racism and hatred without reason


gum-chewing ditzy snobs




Homeless People

want to be homeless

single men


Unemployed People



Truth Tellers




People Dependent An Others




uniquely feminine

Newspaper Readers, Television News Audience, & Radio News Audience




uninterested in good news

uninterested in hard facts

want soft news, uninterested in world news

only interested in crime

Television Audience To Advertisers



mindless boobs

Prison Inmates

lie about health problems

Points to Ponder

Did you notice that heavy men, heavy women, and thin men are all stereotyped as having few friends? Thin women, on the other hand, are stereotyped as flirtatious. Stereotypers believe heavy men, heavy women, and thin men are socially unsuccessful because their weight gives them little value. But stereotypers give thin women some social value. The other stereotypes about thin women are negative. To stereotypers, thin women have limited social value and limited social success.

Pay attention when stereotypers pick the same stereotype for opposite characteristics. They will do the same thing to you if it gives them what they want. Clues to what stereotypers want come from the situations in which they use stereotypes. Stereotypes satisfy a need within a situation. Those needs include superiority, control, and self-protection.

Strategies For Shattering Stereotypes

Choose a strategy based on the level of danger in the situation. Talk to the target in front of the harasser only if the situation is safe for conversation. If the situation is dangerous, create some kind of distraction. I now carry a personal alarm with me for creating distractions quickly.

Talking to the target instead of the harasser allows the harasser to just walk away. If harassing situations come up regularly in a workplace or other common location, you could also use these strategies at calm times to increase understanding about the consequences of using stereotypes. Just tell stories to your coworkers/colleagues as opportunities come up.

Adapt the strategies as you need to. Write about other successful strategies in the comments section.

Surprise The Harasser(s)

If you can possibly do so, give the harasser(s) a moment of dignity. People harassing others will not expect positive statements. The positive statements might be enough to stop them in that situation. One example:

“It’s obvious —– is having a bad day. Let’s give him/her/them time to
calm down and ease the strain on his/her/their heart(s). Let’s hope
tomorrow will be better.”

This statement tells the harasser(s) that they are under stress and deserve to feel better. By expressing concern for their health, you are letting them know you consider them valuable. They may not feel much value in their daily lives.

Visit the website below for resources on opening doors that give moments of dignity. Read People Success Example #5 on the People Success page. You’ll learn how I turned a bad relationship around using moments of dignity, and reaped an unexpected reward.

Make Yourself An Example

This works best if you are not whatever is the reason for the harassment, not Muslim, not black, not Jewish, not Hispanic, not whatever. If you can identify any commonality between yourself and the target(s), talk about them to the target.

“Excuse me, but I noticed that we share a taste for … How would you
recommend cooking it?”

Your commonality will at least partially shatter the stereotype.

Provide Information About Stereotypes

If you can connect to the Internet, bring up the appropriate stereotype blog post and tell the target what the stereotypes are about you and why they are wrong. You could start with:

“Did you know there are stereotypes about everyone? The stereotypes
about me are …, but they don’t fit me because …”

You would be shattering a stereotype in front of the harasser.

Talk About The Consequences Of Creating Failure

Visit this Success & Failure Choices page to read about various types of success and failure. If you can think of an example from your own life, tell that story. Otherwise, use one from the blog below.

You could use this example from “Standout Success For 19 Year Old Joey Prusak”:

“A Dairy Queen customer saw manager Joey Prusak stand up for a
visually impaired customer. The bystander customer sent an email
to Dairy Queen. The story ended up on Facebook. The owner of Dairy
Queen, Warren Buffet, called Joey to thank him. Queen Latifah invited
Joey to appear on her show and gave him money for his college fund.
NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick invited Joey to a race. Good things can
happen to people who take care of other people.”

Talk About The Benefits Of Living The Golden Rule

Remind the harasser of the Golden Rule:

“Since the Golden Rule is important to me, I’m going to treat you
the way I want to be treated. I also know that being kind to others
is good for my health.”

My favorite version of the Golden Rule comes from Buddhism, “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” See this PDF file for Golden Rule statements in 21 religions, 5 philosophies, and 2 moral/ethical systems to pick your favorite version.

Read up on the health benefits of kindness for details to talk about.

And again, write about other successful strategies in the comments.


Critical Thinking Questions

1.  What’s happening?

2.  Why is it important?

3.  What don’t I see?

4.  How do I know?

5.  Who is saying it?

6.  What else? What if?

Stereotype Thinking Questions

1.  What is threatening my beliefs?

2.  How can I make it unimportant?

3.  What can I reject?

4.  What can I laugh at?

5.  How can I attack people who threaten my beliefs?

6.  How can I deflect?

The stereotype thinking questions are mine, based on my observations of stereotype thinkers.


Online workshop that provides strategies to chip away stereotypes in both personal and professional relationships:

Gossip Power In The Workplace: Good, Bad, & Ugly

“After participating in the gossip power presentation, I know I now have a better plan to be more effective in understanding how gossip affects every area of a person’s personal and professional life. Using her strategies on gossip power and gossip ears I feel I will be better able to navigate these areas both inside and outside the office. Paula does a great job, using both scientific research and personal anecdotes and examples, to develop strategies for turning the power of gossip into positives for anyone attending her presentation. I left energized and excited about her message and what I learned and am definitely looking forward to learning more at her glass ceiling presentation.“
Mark Spiers
SBDC Consultant


Paula M. Kramer
© 2015 to the present
All rights reserved.

Posts on this blog alternate with posts at the link below. Posts for both blogs are published on Wednesdays as they are ready to be published. Time between posts could be weeks or months.

Gossip Posters

Gossip Proverb

Good, Bad, & Ugly Gossip

Resource Websites

Business Directory

Reputation Management Directory


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