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What do you think of immediately when you hear New Jersey? Huge hair, orange skin and fist pumps, right? As a Garden State resident for over 16 years, I would like to officially set the record straight.

When MTV’s Jersey Shore first aired in December 2009, the overblown stereotypes of GTL (gym, tanning and laundry) provided great material to laugh about in my town. The place in which I live is only about an hour away from the shore, but culturally, it’s a world apart. Sure, down at the shore things can sometimes be similar to how they are portrayed on the show, but most of the state is very different.

I made the mistake of assuming that people not from New Jersey would be able to figure that out for themselves too, but on a few recent trips I learned otherwise. On a trip to Italy with my family last year, our waiters would often ask where we were from. Our answer too often saw a reply of “Oh, like fist-pumping?”
We were shocked and horrified that those painful stereotypes had made their mark, even over four thousand miles around the world (Confession: I didn’t even know how to fist-pump). One night in our hotel room we turned on the television to find the episode of Jersey Shore when one roommate gets arrested on the screen with Italian subtitles. By the end of our trip, so tired of being asked how the shore was that time of year, we actually began to lie about where we were from.
I told myself that the only reason those people believed the stereotypes was because they lived on the other side of the world. I was certain that people within the United States would be able to tell fact from fiction. Again, I was wrong. This past summer I spent four weeks in Alabama where again I faced the same comments. The people were not trying to bother me, but they sincerely believed that every town in New Jersey was exactly as it seems on the show. The questions were entertaining though they sounded absolutely ridiculous to me. Questions like, “So, why are you so pale?” or “How many times have you met Snooki?” were some of my favorites.
Finally on a trip to Chicago where I heard the same inquiries I realized that perhaps these stereotypes just need to die down on their own. I mean, they could be worse, right? Alright, maybe not. I suppose in the meantime I just have to wait for a new show to come along to take some attention away from my home state. Perhaps Rocky Mountains, Gulf Coast or Salt Lake will do the trick. Hopefully my DVR will catch them if I’m too busy GTL’ing (just kidding).





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