4 of the biggest stereotypes about Americans, debunked by a British woman living in Ohio

  • Like many cultures, the US is sometimes stereotyped by people in other countries.

  • But one British woman who moved to Ohio is making an effort to challenge misconceptions about Americans.

  • She said she wants to educate people who may never have lived in the US about the positives.

A British woman who moved to the US says she had many misconceptions about the country until she lived there.

Millie Hart often discusses her observations about the US with her 1.1 million followers on TikTok. According to Fox News, which interviewed Hart, she was born in the West Midlands, England, but has since moved to Ohio with her American husband.

Cultural experiences and differences are a hugely popular genre on TikTok, encompassing both culture shocks and reverse culture shocks (things people returning to their native country after spending time abroad struggle to adjust back to). Often, discussions about cultural differences mention generalizations about a culture.

According to Hart, there are many stereotypes about the US and American people that she's found to be untrue, and she's been sharing them with her TikTok audience.

"I think it's really easy when you only ever probably visit here or see America on the news to condemn the whole country to one thing, to one situation," she said in a post from November 2023, explaining that she felt the US was so diverse and that each of the states is unique.

"I really feel like this country is a multitude of countries and I didn't realize that until I came here," she said.

Here are four stereotypes Hart has challenged in her TikTok videos.

Stereotype 1: Americans are lazy

In one video, Hart said there was a misconception that Americans are "lazy people" which she'd found to be "so not true."

Hart said that contrary to the stereotype that Americans are lazy, she thinks Americans are extremely committed to work.

Even Americans themselves seem to have at times bought into the stereotype: A 2015 Pew Research Center survey found that half of respondents thought the typical American could be described as lazy. Political and business leaders have also recently questioned Americans' work ethic, although it's been countered by data that shows that in the US people on average work longer hours than in other countries, including the UK.

Hart said she thinks Americans have no choice but to work, partly because for many people, access to healthcare is tied to their employment. Residents of the UK, however have access to free healthcare.

Later in the video, she discussed the perception that Americans drive everywhere instead of walking, saying that this wasn't down to laziness, as she thought people believed, but rather a lack of options outside of big cities.

"There's not a shop I can walk to. I wouldn't get there for like an hour and a half," she said.

While driving is more common in the US than in many other countries, including the UK, recent academic findings support the notion that it's not down to laziness. Ralph Buehler, a professor of urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech, said in an interview published by the university in May that American infrastructure prioritized cars over pedestrians.

"Roadway designers don't want to delay vehicles, and, guess what, pedestrian-friendly amenities like crosswalks delay cars. It's not so much that the guidelines are purposefully anti-walking — they are pro-driving," he said.

Stereotype 2: American people are not cultured

In an October 2023 video, Hart discussed the stereotype that American people are uncultured because many of them don't travel outside of the US.

According to a 2023 survey from the Pew Research Center, 23% of Americans have never left the country, although most said they would if they could. Those most likely to have traveled abroad had a higher income, suggesting the cost of international travel may be a factor.

Hart offered another theory too: she said the US is such a big and diverse country — especially compared to the UK — that she thinks many Americans want to see the various states in their own country before going abroad.

The USA is the fourth largest country in the world in terms of land area, according to Britannica. It would take around 45 hours to drive through the country from coast to coast, Forbes reported in 2018. On the other hand, a road trip from Britain's most southwesterly point to the northeast can be done in under 15 hours, according to the automotive company RAC.

"It's not that they're not cultured," Hart said of Americans, "I wouldn't want to get on a plane unless I was going England to home."

"I want to see all the states first," she added.

In a January TikTok, Hart also brought up the fact that many Americans don't have passports and are not required to have them to travel between states. She once again asserted that she did not think traveling within the US makes Americans uncultured.

Stereotype 3: American people are rude

Hart said another stereotype she'd encountered was that Americans are rude, a reputation which may stem from American tourists' perceived behavior overseas. But she said it could not be further from her experience.

"I honestly find that Americans can't do enough for you," Hart said in her October video. She cited customer service practices and mentioned dedicated store greeters who welcome customers, a feature of Walmart dating back to the 1980s, according to NBC.

In a post from July 2023, she expanded on the topic of American friendliness while challenging another stereotype that Americans don't like British people. She said that people in the US make her feel at home and are always interested in hearing about where she's from.

The friendliness of people in the US was so prominent that some American expats have said readjusting to how nice people were was a reverse culture shock they experienced upon returning to the US, BI previously reported.

Stereotype 4: Gun culture in the US makes you feel unsafe

Gun violence is a huge point of concern among many online users discussing American culture. The US is one of three countries worldwide to constitutionally protect the right to bear arms, yet Hart said that she thinks the notions that America is unsafe and that everyone carries guns are misconceptions.

She said in her October video that while there are areas in the US that have a higher concentration of violence, she has personally never felt more safe than she does in the US.

"I've never seen any violence. I've been here two years. Never seen it," she said.

Hart's husband, who was born in the US, has never owned a gun, she said, adding that she's also met a lot of other Americans who have never owned or even shot a gun.

Though Hart has had a seemingly violence-free experience in the US, guns undoubtedly complicate issues of safety in US. The gun violence archive recorded 18,854 gun-related deaths in 2023, not including deaths by suicide.

Hart said she wants to shine a spotlight on the 'great people' who live in the US

Hart's motivation in debunking misconceptions is to share positive aspects about the US with her videos, she said in her November post, explaining that having an American family has influenced her.

"I'm not naive, I'm not stupid. I know there's problems that need to be dealt with here," she said, adding that she doesn't think American people deserve a bad rap for the things that are out of their direct control.

In her January video, she added: "If I can use my platform to give a better understanding of the great people that live here, the world would just be a better place."

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