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- I’m a native New Yorker who moved to the United Kingdom.
- Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of stereotypes about Americans abroad.
- Some of them can be true, depending on the person: There are Americans who are loud, extremely patriotic, and very cheerful.
- These stereotypes don’t apply to every American, though.
- Some of the stereotypes aren’t true, like that we’re all racist or obese.
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As a native New Yorker, I’m used to being stereotyped as being loud, impatient, and rather brash – somewhat unfairly, I’d like to think.
It wasn’t until I moved to the United Kingdom, however, that I realized that views of Americans, in general, aren’t all that positive.
Here are some of the biggest stereotypes I’ve encountered and how much truth I think is behind them.
We’re all hardcore patriots
- REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
From the outside, I can understand where this stereotype comes from. It can seem as if most people in the United States are very nationalistic. There are over 327 million of us, and undoubtedly there are some Americans who could be considered nationalists and many others who self-identify as patriots.
But there are just as many citizens who do not pledge allegiance to the stars and stripes every day and recognize that our country is far from perfect.
We’re really loud
Your tone of voice really has nothing to do with where you’re from, though admittedly I have noticed other American tourists speaking at a volume that would allow them to easily be heard by others.
In my opinion, it’s not necessarily that Americans are loud, but perhaps that British people are generally more reserved.
We’re all obese
We’re all dumb
I’m not sure where this stereotype stems from, but it’s one of the more annoying stereotypes on the list. Again, just like anywhere else, there are plenty of educated Americans with a passion for knowledge, academic or otherwise.
We’re over-the-top cheerful
This is a really amusing stereotype to me, probably because while I consider myself kind and approachable, I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as “cheerful.”
This stereotype may come from Brits’ trips to America, where they might experience over-the-top customer service from retail employees and restaurant staff.
We’re all obsessed with guns
Hard to debunk this one since there seem to be so many mass shootings regularly in the US. It seems unfathomable to many people in the UK why there haven’t been changes to America’s gun laws and many automatically assume that we’re all obsessed with firearms.
This isn’t true – numbers vary, but it’s estimated around one-third of US citizens own a gun – but it’s a stereotype that persists, likely given the news cycle.
We’re all racists
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There’s no sense in sugarcoating it – America has always had a serious problem with racism. Today, systemic racism remains a rampant issue in the US. There are disparities in wealth and unemployment as well as inequality in our criminal justice and education systems, just to name a few massive issues our country faces.
While there are lots of Americans working hard to change the tide, there’s certainly a long battle ahead. Still, to believe that all people in the US are vitriolic racists or intolerant of other cultures isn’t fair. Not all American citizens were born in the US, for one thing, and many of us not only appreciate the melting pot that is our country, we consider it one of the best parts of being American.
We’re arrogant and inconsiderate
According to several of my British friends, this stereotype exists in large part because there are some US tourists who expect others to follow our beliefs, customs, and even speak our language while we’re in other countries. When this doesn’t happen, they say these Americans can become outraged or insulting.
Again, many people in the United States are genuinely curious and appreciative of different countries, languages, and cultures. And not everyone in the US speaks English as a first language either. Don’t let a few bad apples spoil the whole barrel.