Forum: Look beyond name-calling and do something to change perceptions

Students in a train on Aug 23, 2019.
Students in a train on Aug 23, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

At 16, Abigail Lim may feel as though the whole world's attention is on her as she goes about her daily life (Voices of youth: Being labelled 'elitist' is hurtful, Dec 2). The fact is that most people do not really care.

Yes, it is sad that stereotyping remains common. In life, we are often tagged with many nouns and adjectives, true or untrue, whether we like it or not. It is hard to change prejudices, but never stop trying.

Think about how you can influence your friends who may really be somewhat elitist and try to bridge the gap. Think about how you can act to help change people's perception of students who wear your school uniform.

We often have our own blind spots. When Abigail says that "many of us put in admirable effort to be able to study in such schools", kudos to her. But does that also imply that she thinks students who are not in a good school do not put in admirable effort?

Think about someone wearing a neighbourhood school uniform being labelled stupid or lazy. Think about being called dirty or smelly when you do not have the family support that lets you put on a fresh clean uniform every day.

Being affected by name-calling is not just something students in an "elite" school face. Extreme cases even drive celebrities to suicide. At 16, you have the world at your feet. Look beyond the name-calling. Stop lamenting about feeling hurt, and think about what you can do to kill those stereotypes.

Lim Mei Ling

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2019, with the headline 'Look beyond name-calling and do something to change perceptions'. Print Edition | Subscribe