The Girl with the Swallow Tattoo

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Consider this a forewarning – this piece may cause offence. Bold opening, I know, but we are discussing stereotypes, so these are truly just comic generalisations; unless you are a nihilistic hipster then I do apologise.

The inspiration for this piece arose at my netball social where I had sworn our editor and Goal Shooter was an English student (she actually does History). How much can we really presume about a person just from simply looking at them?

The English Literature Student

Can be seen consistently hugging a book to them as if it was a life source. Specifically chosen, of course, to showcase their intelligence; for example War and Peace, cover folded back, so you definitely know it’s Tolstoy. They favour heritage style clothing, sheepskin long coats, tweed, trenches, imbuing an English patriotism through outerwear. There is often an underdog, someone who is pretty much a mute, and then they will come out with such an astounding statement that immediately refutes any kind of smartness you thought you had. The boys typically wear cable knit slouchy jumpers, checked shirts shyly creeping out underneath, with the staple black skinny jeans that have never seen a wash in their lifetime. The girls are either; dark, mysterious, and highly emotional depicted through band/slogan tees or the female equivalent of the heritage boy.

Biology/Medical Students

They are generally attuned to the outdoors, sharing both a love of nature and human physiology. Practicality and comfort is paramount for long hours in the lab often finishing their look with walking boots. Their outerwear is of the waterproof mountain warehouse variety, shielding their water-wicking fleece beneath. The bootleg jean still exists in their circle as does the Regatta fleece. Outdoor activists include equestrians, rowers, hill walkers, and skiers. They dress quite preppy; polo shirts under thick woollen jumpers with long leather boots, the timeless wax jacket, and the occasional tweed or tartan influence.

Art Students

Creative students are the most eclectic dresses, so if often you can’t figure out what a guy does upon first glance, but if he has a single hoop in his ear; then it’s art. Similarly if a girl approaches you and has a swallow tattoo – apply the same solution. There is the bohemian art student characterised by baggy clothing, gypsy skirts, and patchwork harem pants. Now if you hadn’t discovered, there is quite a hippy vibe going on in Lancaster. Firstly there is an organic wholefood shop and café in town (quite a momentous thing considering the lack of anything in the centre) and secondly the sheer amount of infant children you see strapped to their mothers by some patterned piece of cloth knotted at the waist. Also I work with two different unrelated people who have hippy parents and both of their Christmas presents involved incense and some form of hemp clothing.

Sport Students 

There is the hench gym guy who wears slogan tees even in your seminar, for example, ‘release the beast,’ ‘train insane or remain the same,’ ‘sweat is your fat crying.’ The girls are either ridiculously fit and showcase their Victoria’s Secret physiques in the all-season crop top (or that horrifying moment when you see bare legs in January and instantly feel that throwback to watching Leonardo DiCaprio die in Titanic) or they are dedicated sport enthusiasts who can be seen in alternating sport society jumpers for every day of the week. Not forgetting the Jack Wills promotional couple; matching JW gilet, joggers, hoodie combo.

Considering the harshness of this piece (and the fact that I used myself as the case study for English – my weathered copy of Tale of Two Cities could easily fit in my bag) some of you may be looking at yourselves with a swallow tattoo, harem pants, incense burning away, actively searching for me on Facebook to send me hate mail. If so, PLEASE READ ON!

If we think about the origin of stereotyping, how does it occur? They became generalisations because of a communal expression of particular interests. Simply put, they convey your interests and personality through visual means. It’s how people formulate a first impression. It is how you made most of your friends at freshers. Showing who you are through your clothes is not a bad thing – regardless of whether it pulls you into a stereotype. Music taste, fashion interest, and common hobbies are depicted in your clothing, your hair, what you ink into your skin; a stereotype is an extension of yourself within a community of common selves. What I am aiming to say is being the stereotypical creative/humanities/sport personality is not something to run away from. Just because you reflect your personality for others to see is not generic – it’s bold, creative in itself, and demonstrates that your style does have substance.

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