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The 8 Most Embarrassing American Stereotypes

We Americans can definitely be a loud, fiery bunch, and there’s nothing wrong with being proud of where you come from. Well, until you allow yourself to feel superior to others because of it. That doesn’t sound like you, you say? You might be surprised to hear that people around the globe assume you think that way because you live in the land of the free.

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There’s no denying it—people around the world tend to view Americans in a certain light, and it’s not always one that most of us would find pleasant. In fact, some of the views people have of Americans are downright embarrassing but, you have to admit it, it’s not like they aren’t based in reality. Here are some of the most common stereotypes people across the globe have of Americans—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We’re All Fat

Okay, it’s obvious that not every American citizen is overweight or obese, but you can’t deny that there’s some merit to the stereotype. As of 2014, 36.5 percent of all adults in the United States were considered obese, and a similar percentage were considered overweight. For people from other countries, it really isn’t hard to figure out why.

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A large group of Americans spend their free time doing things that don’t really require any physical activity, food that’s healthy tends to be less expensive than junk food, and our portion sizes are pretty out of control. “When we eat out with my husband or friends, we usually share,” said Lana Kolupaeva, who is originally from Eastern Europe. “Not because we can’t afford, but just because we do not need THAT much food.”

We’re Religious Fanatics

America is a nation founded on religious freedom—it’s even written into our constitution—but there are definitely some Americans who, for whatever reason, don’t truly accept it. We’re a largely Christian nation and, while there’s not a single problem with subscribing to that belief, there are many outspoken individuals who make it clear that outsiders who don’t agree aren’t welcome. “

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The role of religion is much stronger here than in other Western nations,” said Olof Åkerlund of Sweden. “Things like creationism are usually believed by a handful of people in other places, but here it seems to be at least a force to be reckoned with.”

In 2013, the Huffington post released a poll of 1,099 adults that revealed 32 percent of them would like to see Christianity made the official religion of the United States via a constitutional amendment.

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While it’s true that 75 percent of Americans identify as Christian as of 2015, what’s important to note is that the number of people who identify with some type of non-Christian religion is on the rise, up to 20 percent in 2015.

Our Healthcare Sucks

Throughout the 2016 election, and especially with a new president in the White House, health care is a topic that’s on the minds of pretty much each and every American.

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Rates seem to be going up as coverage starts to go down but, thankfully, those who were without health care dropped to 8.6 percent in 2016, and all-time low for our country. Still, it’s something that always seems to be an endless battle, each person in power thinking their ideas are best, fighting for their own agenda.

When you consider how many developed nations have adopted successful universal health care systems, it’s not a surprise that the world doesn’t understand how America isn’t yet on board.

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“People really are afraid of socialism,” Åkerlund said. “This seems to be especially true the less they know about it, or believe it means turning their car in to the state. It also turns into fear of Obamacare being some sort of socialist plot, which is hilarious.”

We Never Leave The Country

In 2016, it was reported that only a mere 36 percent of Americans hold passports, despite the fact that Americans are some of the most well-traveled people throughout the world, second only to the Finnish.

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If we love to travel so much, however, why is it that the majority of our trips aren’t outside of the U.S.? Of course, there are lots of legitimate reasons—travel outside of the country can be quite expensive, and not everyone can afford to take the time off to spend in another country for a week or more.

For some, however, it’s because they view other parts of the world as “dangerous,” despite not really knowing much about what it’s actually like there, only basing their opinion on one random thing they heard in the news a year ago. It seems like people also believe that the rest of the world hates Americans, but that’s hardly the case.

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Really, people from other countries tend to have a knack for knowing an American when they see them, often because many Americans don’t try to adjust their behaviors and actions based on where they’re traveling—it’s kind of funny when you consider how angry some Americans get when they see foreign visitors in our country.

We Don’t Trust Science

Americans are often seen as being pretty reckless when it comes to the environment, as many still vehemently deny climate change despite the numerous pieces of evidence that support it.

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Our leaders continue to do what earns them the most money regardless of what impact it has on the planet and despite all of the alarming warnings from scientists that our planet can’t take it for much longer.

It goes beyond the environment, too. In 2001, it was reported that despite all of scientific breakthroughs that took place due to stem cell research, 32 percent of people think that stem cell research is immoral, which is interesting when you consider that a 2008 study reported that 20 percent of Americans can’t actually define what a stem cell even is.

AFP / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT

Sadly, it seems like it’s becoming a common trend in America to take in only what supports the views you already hold rather than continuing to learn and expand your viewpoint, and it’s something the rest of the world is taking note of.

We’re Violent

There’s just no way to get around it: America is the only developed nation to have the type of problem with gun violence that it has.

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In 2010 alone, guns were involved in over 10,000 American deaths, whereas only two people died from gun-related injuries in Japan that year. It’s not just murder, either—that same year, six out of every 10 gun-related deaths were attributed to suicide.

It seems to be a vicious and endless cycle, too. A mass shooting happens in a movie theater or a school, some people clamor for more lenient gun restriction while others want it to be stronger, and the debate rages on. Marcia Petersen Buckie, an American citizen with a Canadian husband, said, “We’ve seen an increase in gun obsession or ‘intensity’ among friends and extended family.

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“[Her husband’s] brother is an engineer who lives in Windsor and works over here a lot, and that is his biggest ‘surprise.’ Usually he thinks it’s silly but sometimes the conversations about guns gives him the creeps.”

We’re Not Really Patriotic

There are many Americans who tend to think that they’re as patriotic as they come, but there are a lot of people out there in the world who think that many of those very people don’t even know what patriotism actually means.

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Is it alright to be happy that you live in America, to be proud to be an American citizen? Absolutely. However, many die-hard American patriots tend to have a pretty narrow view of what makes their country great, and they often don’t take other people and countries into consideration when thinking about ways to make it better.

If you’re like us, you’ve probably been hearing that America is the greatest country there is since childhood, and it’s this belief that leads to some to believe that America truly can pursue any goal it desires, no matter how it impacts anyone else.

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There’s a thin line between pride and narcissism, and it’s one that many Americans seem to cross often.

We’re Ignorant

There’s no doubt that people around the world tend to view Americans as an egotistical group who view the world through their own lens, and it’s often fairly true.

AFP / OLIVIER MORIN

For those who don’t know, there’s actually a term for it: ethnocentrism. It means that someone tends to value other places and cultures based on how they compare to their own, like thinking that a certain dish is gross because Americans would never eat that, or that the way someone is dressed elsewhere is ugly or embarrassing because they’d never see it at home.

That’s not to say that this type of things is exclusive to Americans only, but it’s something that seems so prevalent among this nation, especially when you consider just how connected we are to the rest of the world.

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In an age when we can almost instantly connect with cultures in every corner of the world and learn about them daily, being ignorant of the world around us is definitely a choice.



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