Stereotypes give West Virginians the willies

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During the excitement of Super Tuesday, The Daily Show’s Twitter account tweeted “Hillary claims a victory in Virginia. The good Virginia too, not that creepy ‘West’ Virginia. That place gives us the willies.”

Those who claim the mountain state as home took to social media to express their distaste with the tweet, while others from outside of the state didn’t understand the disdain, arguing, “it’s just a comedy show.”

The Daily Show is, in fact, a comedy show, and the tweet was, in fact, a joke. However, the sensitivity lies in the fact that West Virginia is constantly the butt of a plethora of jokes involving incest, poor hygiene, bare feet and lack of education (okay, that one is relatively true).

When a West Virginian travels out of state, it is not uncommon to get remarks like “Do you guys go barefoot?” and “Oh, you have all of your teeth.” This shows how jokes like The Daily Show’s can shape public opinion and perpetuate a stereotype that people take seriously.

The Daily Show’s joke is harmless to an outsider, but West Virginians know the problems we face day-to-day are real, and the comparatively underprivileged condition of the state is no laughing matter. The reality is West Virginia is the second poorest state in the country, suffers from a crippling opioid problem, is exploited by corporations from outside of the state and has one of the worst education systems in the country, with some of the lowest-paid teachers.

That would give anyone the willies.

A good portion of West Virginia, specifically the coalfields, is rural and poverty-laden, and occasionally, people don’t have the money or education for basic dental hygiene or a pair of shoes. This is a reality. However, no one in the state is running around with rotten teeth and fungal feet for funsies.

That being said, it is no wonder many in the state hate it here and the state is losing population.

Sure, West Virginians make fun of their situation all the time. Ha, hillbillies up a holler. Ha, go marry your cousin. LOL. But when the rest of the country takes the prevailing opinion of our beautiful state as a land run by doped-up hillbillies seriously, it is difficult not to take it to heart. No other state has to deal with the multitude of negative publicity. Every time something bad happens in West Virginia to perpetuate a stereotype, a collective groan is heard statewide.

Most of those who make fun of West Virginia have probably never even visited the state, for if they had, they wouldn’t recognize our multiple communities that have been recognized as Coolest Small Town in America, America’s Best Communities and friendliest city as “creepy.”

It is time for West Virginians to come together to show the rest of the country this state really is the Best Virginia, and stand up against outsiders who perpetuate a negative image.

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