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IDIC: Challenging the Socially Accepted Prejudices

Futuristic hallway with text reading "IDIC Blogs: Challenging the Socially Acceptable Prejudices"

While many socially accepted prejudices depend on where we look in the world, that does not make them right. However, it’s often phrased as something “everyone knows,” so it doesn’t feel like a negative.

An example of this is anti-fat bias, which is present at all levels of society. It manifests in a variety of ways, from unsolicited advice to pity to hostility, but they all come back to the same belief that being fat is a choice.

This line of thinking does not consider that a variety of factors, from social to societal to medical, are involved. It does not consider the barriers placed in front of fat people. The viewpoint is simply that thin is best, and anyone not conforming to that standard is worth less.

This is an example of a socially sanctioned prejudice. Very few people will intervene if they see this prejudice, compared to if those same people were witnessing someone yelling at a gay couple.

Socially sanctioned prejudices can apply in a lot of areas. For example, ethnic bias may mean that a certain group is seen as “lazy” or “unwilling to work” by others in the same society. That kind of bias is also accepted, even though it should not be.

Another example of these prejudices is those against people with low incomes. From the accepted myths about welfare queens to the general disdain for not “pulling themselves out of poverty,” this set of prejudices manifests in many ways. Yet all of them breed apathy.

While dismantling these socially accepted prejudices will not be instant, we can still do our part. The first step is recognizing our own prejudices, whatever they are. That means researching with an open mind, which sometimes challenges our self-perceptions.

Another step is calling it when you see it. Does a clothing brand charge more for extended sizing? Did the hiring manager toss out a stack of applications based on the names on them? Does your company choose people without kids to work every holiday?

Not every prejudice is obvious, and understanding them is a good step towards being able to help build a more inclusive world. Socially acceptable prejudices are insidious, but they can be fought as well when we work together.

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