Stereotypes About Americans

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Ohhhhh Beautiful…..I don’t know the rest of the words. I love America, besides this is the only country I know. First let me admit America is not the most perfect country in the world (then again we are not the worst either). As a country we are very judgemental, don’t get me wrong. I love watching videos where people from other countries were interviewed about what they think about Americans, America, and what they think American stereotypes are. I’m going to keep it real, I sometimes get mad when I watch those videos. I know they are supposed to be lighthearted but it gets under my skin for some reason. 

It was so interesting to see what people would actually say. We noticed after watching the videos featuring people from several different countries that a lot of people said the same things, but that they also see Americans in relation to their own culture and character traits.

I thought it would be fun tell you some of the stereotypes that came up multiple times by people from several different countries, and respond to the stereotypes, and also see what any of my international readers have to say! American or not, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic and some of these specific stereotypes.

I will post the 20 (yes 20) common ones that I seen online and heard. 


All of us are fat or obese

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This is so not true, we are very mixed overall. Some of us are natural super small, a little chubby, or built with a lot of muscle that is not entirly toned. If there’s anywhere to start, it’s right here. Our expanding waistlines have been the subject of global ridicule for decades


Americans are rude.

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This stereotype has likely stemmed from open-mouth laughing or public nose blowing, the product of culturally unaware American travelers. But while these actions seem ‘rude’ to foreigners, Americans are in fact quite polite.We are more likely to smile at, help, or acknowledge a stranger; they don’t wait for introductions and will happily chat with someone in the elevator.


Americans are loud and obnoxious.

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I’m not going to lie, I find this one funny. I agree with this…we are loud. When I go out with my family and fiends, we are loud. Americans are accustomed to this stereotype, a longstanding one of which many are reluctant to let go. This is partly due to the majority of young American students backpacking or studying abroad who have helped to perpetuate the reputation , But when it comes to day-to-day conversations, Americans aren’t a particularly loud group of people.


Americans don’t like to travel.

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Americans have a reputation for being lousy travelers, and the stereotype of the “ugly American” who loudly roam the streets of Europe looking for McDonalds are widely believed. Most Americans I know do love to travel, just domestically, since for most of us going on trips abroad cost a lot of money and take a lot of time. It’s far easier for, say, a Belgian to travel abroad than it would be for an American, simply because of geography. We are loud, though- I’ll admit that.


American food is lousy.

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I encountered many people abroad who erroneously assumed that ubiquitous fast food restaurants like KFC and Burger King accurately represented American food. I’d shake my head, tragically, thinking of how foreigners are missing out on things like BBQ in Texas, North Carolina, and Kansas City; “Mexican” food from California to Texas, lobster and clam chowder in New England, salmon in Alaska, deep dish pizza in Chicago, and on and on and on. San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago are world-class restaurant cities with an almost unimaginable range of ethnic cuisine, some of which is the best in the world outside their home countries. I’m not saying American food is better than the food anywhere else, but if you’re not eating well in the United States it’s your own damn fault 🙂 It’s not all corn dogs and funnel cakes…but I do love a corn dog


Americans are dumb.

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This one hit me a little hard. Many people said they don’t think Americans are smart or intelligent. That we are dumb and stupid. It just makes me sad that this is what foreigners think the majority of Americans are like. Yes, we have people that aren’t smart, people that are naive, people that don’t think much beyond their town, state, country (as I’m sure every country has people like this) — but instead of foreigners associating Americans with all of the super smart people we have, their immediate reaction was that we are stupid.


Americans are all patriotic

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I would say this is true. I mean I have an american flag haning in my room. Americans have a reputation for being overly patriotic. Many first-time visitors to the US are surprised by the preponderance of American flags waving from our schools, offices, and homes, and it’s pretty common to hear Americans proclaim their country the greatest on Earth.


Freedom

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It was funny but people just said the word freedom. I thought it was great that they associate us with freedom. Goes back to the patriotic thing.


Americans are ignorant about the world

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I guess I can see how other people might think this. I think a lot of Americans just don’t really care to think outside of their own lives. We only border two countries unlike Europe. If your job or business has nothing to do with the global economy or learning about it isn’t a hobby I can see how some people wouldn’t know or care too much about it.

It’s an unfortunate reality that many Americans who travel lack knowledge of the culture and customs of the country they are visiting, and worse yet, sometimes they don’t seem to care enough to learn.

Americans can combat this stereotype by engaging with people from other cultures abroad and making an effort to see things from their perspective.


Americans love sports

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Well this is definitely true! Us Americans LOVE sports


Americans all carry guns

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This is probably the single most popular myth. Well, we don’t. Some of us have no interest in owning a gun, much less carrying one around. Some states forbid people from carrying a gun except for very under specific circumstances and for specific jobs.


Americans can only speak English

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The United States is notoriously monolingual, perhaps more than any other country in the world.

This reality might not hold up to scrutiny: An increasing number of Americans, especially young ones, are able to communicate in a language other than English.

Travelers can’t be expected to become fluent in the local language of every country they travel to, but learning a few key phrases can go a long way toward building relationships with people you meet and earning their trust.


Americans drive everywhere, creating massive pollution

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Ok, creating lots of pollution part is true entirely, I’ll give you that. Bur driving everywhere? Wrong, for the most part. People who live in crowded cities or live in a town center may not have to drive to get groceries or their workplace. But a lot of us Americans due have to drive, as living in big cities like Long Beach or NYC is incredibly expensive, as much as everyone fantasizes (myself included) about living there. Where I live, driving everywhere is a must, as everything is a five minute or longer drive, while walking this could take or hour or two


Everything in America is big. Tall buildings, tall people.

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This was just funny. I think for countries in Europe it has to do with space and our cities being newer. We don’t have a lot of super old small buildings and cobblestone streets everywhere. We have giant strip malls and Costco and parking lots and highways and SUVs.

And Americans do tend to be on the tall side. I wonder if this has to do with milk and other hormones in our food?


All Americans are rich

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One of the most common misconceptions I encountered abroad is that all Americans are wealthy — and everyone has multiple cars and a big house.

That misconception comes in part from America’s powerful global economic standing, I learned. But as plenty of Americans know, not all of that wealth makes its way into the hands of every citizen, and there are millions of Americans living in poverty.


Americans are lazy

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This kind of generalization could be applied to any nation. There are lazy Americans and then there are some serious hardworking Americans.


Americans are ENTITLED

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The perception that people from America feel a sense of entitlement likely comes from the interactions that the rest of the world has with them while they are visiting as tourists.

Many people feel that USA folk feel the rest of the world should conform to them when they are visiting their countries, but this is likely anecdotal.

For the most part, they tend to be very open to other cultures when traveling and do their best to follow the customs and languages of others, even if they initially go in unaware of much of it.


EVERYONE FROM AMERICA IS MATERIALISTIC

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I do love to shop. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lot of the world looks at the US and sees a country that is obsessed with material possessions. That perception likely stems from the wealth that is seen in America and the relatively nice lifestyle that the average person in the country is afforded.

But a decent lifestyle by the average citizen in the US does not necessarily equate to a materialistic approach in life. Although it is true that there are those who are in fact materialistic, it is also true that this mindset exists everywhere in the world as well.


Americans are CAREER OBSESSED

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This one goes back to the mostly true stereotype previously listed regarding USA folk being a hardworking people. With that mindset, it likely means that work is seen as a very important facet of life in the US which is mostly true.

But there is a fine line between being focused on getting ahead in work and being obsessed with one’s career. The former is more true in the US while the latter only pertains to a select group, much like with any other country in the world.


Americans don’t understand soccer

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For some, this is the worst American stereotype of them all. Somehow, despite soccer being the most popular sport in almost every country and having an estimated 4 billion fans worldwide, Americans have largely resisted its charm.

Despite soccer’s slowly growing popularity in the US, the general lack of interest in the sport in America came as a shock to many non-Americans I encountered while traveling.

 

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