So last week in my American Literature class at our co-op, we were discussing stereotypes. I asked the kids to give me some stereotypes and the first one that came up was: cheerleaders. "Cheerleaders are dumb, annoying, airheads, giggly, stupid, sleazy, etc. etc." I let them go on and on with their thinly disguised disdain of cheerleaders (note that these are all homeschooled kids who aren't even walking the hallways with these cheerleaders).
And then I said, "Hmm. But, um, I was a cheerleader." Oh, the delight of seeing their jaws drop as I shattered their stereotype.
Not dumb. Not sleazy. Not terribly annoying. OK, maybe a bit of an airhead and somewhat giggly, but aren't most teenage girls? Oops. That was a stereotype. And so yes, I told them, cheerleaders can actually go on to lead productive lives. A former cheerleader is your teacher. And I'm smart. (Plus, how great did I look in those socks?)