Back during the 2008 election, former President Obama ran on change. That was cool, support him or not.
But what about the real change that took place right under our noses? I am referring to change in the power of stigmas. There was a stigma about being gay, online dating, being a nerd, having a mental illness, and yes, having a big butt!
Let’s break them down.
1. Being Gay (LGBTQ) Stigma
Remember back in the 90s watching the Jerry Springer talk show? Some guy would confess on stage that he was cheating on his fiancée. The crowd would go nuts. Then Jerry would call the mistress out from backstage. Bam! It was always another guy! That’s right, some dude engaged to a woman and sleeping with a man! Then the fistfight would break out! Back then, being gay was a big deal and all the years leading up to it. Then something shifted. The shock got to be routine. Soon, Ellen DeGeneres came out. There was hysteria but it soon passed. After that, everyone and their mother started coming out. From celebrities to old classmates to church pastors. Some, against their will and some not.
The U.S. military’s “Don’t ask don’t tell policy” ended in 2011. Today, “RuPaul's Drag Race” is one of the most popular shows on TV. It features many gay, cross-dressing performers. Now people yawn when somebody comes out. In 2015, same sex marriage became a nationwide right in the United States. Many still weren’t happy, but many opponents have also moved on. So, has the strength of the stigma.
2. Being a Nerd Stigma
If you are old school, you’ll probably remember the release of the hit comedy movie “Revenge of the Nerds” in 1984. It was all about a group of outcasts getting back at the “cool” people. The movie was funny, but the subject is serious. So-called nerds have been bullied, picked on, abused, kicked, pushed, teased and everything in-between. More recently, schools have started taking bullying more seriously as a result of suicides and people getting hurt physically and mentally.
Today, the tide has shifted. Silicon Valley is all the buzz. It is full of so-called nerds, and some very rich ones at that. There is Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, even old-school Microsoft “nerd,” Bill Gates just to name a few. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is no joke! They are literally, shaping the culture and making billions in the process. Have you seen “The Big Bang Theory”? Have you heard Sam Smith sing? “Nerds” are showing up as cool characters in multiple TV shows, movies and all music genres. This change is even reflected in fashion. I guess you can truly say, it’s the revenge of the so-called nerds.
3. Online Dating Stigma
Back-in-the-day if you even said the word “online dating,” people would call you a loser behind your back or even to your face. Now, you can’t get a date without it. There is match.com, christianmingle.com, eharmony.com, elites.com and even blackpeoplemeet.com. People have so many options now. If you want one date a week or five dates a week, it’s more than possible. Should you decide to get married to your online honey, that’s O.K. too. No stigma attached.
To be honest, people now think you’re kinda weird if you don’t date online. Senior citizens and the 50-year-old crowd have no excuse either. There is ourtime.com for the experienced lovers. No more stigma means you can go ahead and post that profile picture you took 10 years ago. We ain’t judging. Go and get your online groove on!
4. Mental Illness Stigma
Everybody is on medication. Throughout modern history, a lot of people were also on medication. The difference was, nobody was talking about it. Everybody was hiding. Now you have celebrities coming out publicly like Mariah Carey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jim Carey and even Kanye West. It seems everybody knows somebody who has been in a mental hospital, reporting weekly to the therapist office, popping pills and everything in-between. Forget knowing somebody, they themselves may be getting help. There’s bipolar, anxiety attacks, schizophrenia, psychosis, panic attacks, depression, anorexia, postpartum depression, OCD, ADHD, PTSD and you might as well throw in heartbreak. The list goes on and on.
People talk much more openly about mental illness nowadays. There was a time when you would be afraid of losing your job or friends because of the mental illness stigma. People are no longer considered defective like they used to. Is it just me, or does it seem like everybody’s kids are on something? Make no mistake, there is a long way to go, but people freely getting help is a good thing. Have you been watching commercials lately? The medication will be televised!
5. Big Butt Stigma
This is a big one! I mean a big butt big one. There was a time when a big bubble butt was frowned upon. Not today my friend. You got Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Serena Williams, Cardi B and the best-kept booty secret, actress Meagan Good! Ok, I’m biased. How can so many butts make so many people so crazy? Big butts were always popular among the brothers. Back-in-the-day you had rappers 2-Live Crew and their 1991 butt-themed hit, “Baby Got Back.” You also had the group Experience Unlimited’s 1988 go-go hit called, “Da Butt.” It was nominated for a Grammy. But, it wasn’t till recently, that big booties have found their bounce into the mainstream. Now people are getting butt injections and implants. Women are wearing re-enforced panties. Even men are getting nervous about their butts. They are keeping the butt friendly Bonobos Jeans in business. Beyoncé busted out with “Bootylicious” and we all sang along.
I was shocked to see on the hit video game Fortnite, that all the women characters have really big butts! Dag! Did you see the mother’s butt and thighs in the animated movie “Incredibles 2”? Whoa! Ok, I’m a freak, but still, it’s kind of cool because many of the women would have been previously been called fat. Now, some women are afraid to exercise because they don’t want to lose their butt so-to-speak. Others are squatting in the gym like crazy to turn a respectable butt into a super butt. Who would have thought that two blubbery muscles side-by-side, could cause so much hysteria? Either way, the stigma is long gone. So, go ahead and shake what your mama gave you!
Obviously, some of the more serious stigmas have a ways to go like mental illness and the issues faced by the LGBTQ community. However, some serious progress has been made and it should not be taken lightly. Who knows why people are always finding fault with one another. There is common ground we can all stand on, or sit on in this case. Everybody has a butt. Big ones, small ones, narrow ones, perky ones, droopy ones, not-so-beach-ready ones and booty whatever. Bottom line, we all have one. If people have a problem with your personal issues, tell them to butt out!