Do stereotypes shape us?
Most definitely and I don’t think there is a right lot we can do about it. I choose to wear certain clothes because they work for me, I choose to eat certain foods because they agree with me. Like most I was born with an ability to choose what I liked and didn’t like. From regurgitating baby food to not liking the look of cauliflower, I have inadvertently trained myself to select that which I am comfortable with, anything else outside my comfort zone would be treated with caution.
As I grew up, my choices became stronger and were eventually my own internal law of how to live my life. I suspect this is what everyone goes through as they push through puberty and into adulthood, forging those life experiences into firmed up opinions/stereotypes about everything and everyone.
Stereotyping does not become an issue until there is a negative reaction displayed on your part or others onto you. This situation can then be construed in all manner of ways, but some times you just cannot help the way you react when faced with an experience that you either don’t know or know only too well.
The art of choosing creates you. Choice creates division which creates categories, categories create safety as you have outlined your choice based on what you like or don’t like which creates you.