Stereotypes – by Helen Whitehouse
The issue of being stereotyped is something which, although happens all your life, really starts when you get into secondary school. I mean, in year seven and eight it’s all big and new. But once you get to the older end, you expect it to stop more than it does. Everyone gets stereotyped. I stereotype. But here, I want to talk about the pre-conceived ideas that people get about diabetes.
It was about a year ago, I was talking to my friend about the four cans of non diet coke he had just consumed in quick succession. Using my weird carb counting knowledge (I tend to know the sugar content, carb content of most foods and drinks… it’s my talent!) I said:
“You do know that you’ve probably just drunk about 100 grams of sugar, and its only half eight in the morning?” to which he replied:
“Erm, well I didn’t. Oh well, you would know though Helen, cause that’s why you got diabetes isn’t it?”
I get it a lot to be honest, as most diabetics will. It’s just something that has totally stuck in people’s minds- too much sugar gives you diabetes. But it doesn’t! Type 1 diabetes is caused by unknown reasons, some people think it’s a virus that attacks your pancreas, some think it’s genetic… But it’s not a dietary thing, not something you as an individual have caused. But still, I get people asking me things like this. And also, I know that many people – especially younger children – get teased for being fat, even if they are anything but, simply because of diabetes. And it makes you want to not tell people, to be honest. They will judge you for something that isn’t even true, you can’t even stop them. What can you do? There’s only a certain about of “ Type 1 diabetes isn’t caused by anything like that, its possibly a virus, possibly genetic etc etc” you can do!
People need more education on diabetes. In Science, the teachers don’t know what they are talking about with it, from the point of not understanding hypos and hypers, to actually saying the words “ Oh, its what them fat kids get innit!”.
If qualified teachers have no idea, how are children and teenagers meant to! And ignorance about the matter only causes deeper issues. A few weeks ago in a lesson, someone had a bottle of full fat coke. The teacher just comes out with “ drink that, you’ll get diabetes and ruin your own life”. I’m sorry, but that is just not acceptable in any circumstance, especially when I was sitting right there! And I most defiantly defend that I have a life. I do more stuff than most non-diabetics do, it’s certainly not something which has held me back.
I hate being stereotyped. Whether its for my bright red hair, my taste in music or my diabetes. Yet, the last one could be solved so easily.