The 9 Incorrect Assumptions You Have About People from California
9 Myths About Californians
9 Myths About People from California
My home state of California probably gets more media exposure than any other state in America. For starters, almost every movie or T.V. show set in the Golden State - like Baywatch and The O.C. - portrays everyone from California as either:
b) spending their whole life on a beach.
Movies and T.V. aside, California is also one of most sung-about states in America. (Whereas, if you’re from Alabama, you basically only have the one song.)
We have the Beach Boys to thank for the comparison of “California girls” to “dolls by a palm tree in the sand,” Katy Perry to blame for the misconception that we’re all just walking around in Daisy Dukes with a bikini on top, and Tupac to attribute for the idea that we know how to party. Well, actually, that last one is valid.
Let me break down the nine stereotypes about people from California that I hear the most - that definitely aren’t always true.
All photos are my own - except for the one of Alicia Silverstone that I obviously didn't take.
1. Everyone from California is automatically from Los Angeles.
Presumably because so many books, movies, songs, etc. are set in L.A., a lot of people assume that all of California is Los Angeles. Upon hearing that I’m from California, countless people have asked me, “Oh, can you see the Hollywood sign from your house?!” or “Oh, do you know my cousin’s friend? She works at Universal Studios!”
That’s great for your cousin’s friend, but L.A. is an eight hour drive from where I live. I saw the Hollywood sign once, from far away, for twenty seconds, when I was 20 and drunk off cake-flavored vodka, on one of the five trips I’ve taken to L.A. in my entire life.
The state of California is home to more than 39 million people. To be fair, 4 million of those people reside in Los Angeles County, making L.A. the most populated city in the state. However, that still leaves roughly 35 million people who live in California - but don’t live in L.A.
(No shade to L.A., by the way - I've thoroughly enjoyed my five trips there. I just want people to know there's more to California than what they might think.)
2. Everyone in California is at the beach all the time.
Here’s the thing: while, yes, there are many, many beautiful beaches in California, the Golden State has much more than just beaches. Did you know that California is home to 77,500 farms? California’s farms grow a third of all the vegetables consumed in the States, and two thirds of all the fruits and nuts consumed in the States. Although there are farms all over California, the areas that grow the most produce are in Fresno, Tulare, and Monterey counties, respectively. California’s farms produce more than 400 commodities, most notably milk, almonds, and grapes.
Speaking of grapes, a 2016 report stated that vineyards take up 2436 square kilometers - or 1,514 miles - of California. More than 80 percent of all American wine comes from California. Some of the biggest wine producing regions in California are Mendocino County, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and Paso Robles.
That’s a lot of California that’s not just beach!
I live in San Francisco, and we have some gorgeous beaches. They’re not always the sunkissed surfer’s paradise that The O.C. has taught you to equate with the entire state, but they're ideal for watching the sunset over the water (and maybe catching a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, if it’s not too foggy and you’re in the right spot).
Also, it’s cold here. A lot. I legit can’t remember the last time I wore shorts, and I frequently wear two jackets just to leave the house.
3. Everyone from California surfs.
Even though I’m lucky enough to be from one of California’s beach towns (Santa Cruz), I still don’t know how to surf. After L.A., California’s six most populated cities are San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Long Beach, and Sacramento. The closest beaches to the 1,023,083 people who live in San Jose are actually in Santa Cruz, which is about a 45 minute drive, and the closest beaches to Sacramento’s 486,189 residents are an hour and 45 minutes away, in San Rafael, so my guess is that many of the people who live in those cities don’t know how to surf, either.
4. Everyone in California knows lots of famous people.
Famous people typically live in well-guarded large mansions in nice neighborhoods up in the hills and away from us peasants. So, unless the Person From California In Question is also famous, the chances of knowing famous people are pretty slim.
5. We’re all rich.
Seeing as the average cost of renting an apartment in both LA and San Francisco is between $2,160 and $3,400, this one is a valid assumption. Whereas plenty of people in California are rich - here’s looking at you, Silicon Valley - there are also plenty of people, like myself, who work countless side jobs and have more roommates than I can count on one hand, because our families live here and there are lots of beautiful sights to see and fun things to do, so we do what we can to live here.
6. We’re all tan.
To use my current city as an example, San Francisco is so foggy that we even gave our fog a name. His name is Karl, and his Twitter is hilarious.
Karl makes it pretty hard for any of us to walk around sporting a tan. On the rare days that Karl isn’t around and it’s warmer than 20 degrees C/68 degrees F, San Franciscans flock to the park or the beach.
Not to mention all the other California cities that are typically shrouded in fog and therefore not boasting many tanned residents, such as Pacifica and Carmel.
7. We’re all dumb.
You’ve heard of the term “Valley Girl” and the consequent “Valley Girl accent.” Know where that comes from? San Fernando Valley, which is in - you guessed it - Los Angeles County. You’re probably also familiar with the Valley Girl’s male equivalent, the laid-back surfer who calls everyone “dude” and sounds like he’s high all the time.
There are definitely people who sound like both of these, but it’s not the norm. Most people just sound like, y’know. People.
8. We’re all white and blonde.
Obviously, not every single person from the same place looks the same. People expect all Californians to look like Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, but four of the most diverse cities in America are actually in California. (Oakland, San Jose, Anaheim, and Sacramento.)
9. We’re either skinny or on some crazy fad diet - and we’re really, really into our looks.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely lots of people in California who subscribe to fad diets, prefer their vegetables in liquid form, and wear designer everything. However, there are also lots of people like this all over the place, not just in California. Most people I know out here aren’t eating blended kale for every meal, and we wear jeans and T-shirts like normal people.
I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, which yes, is a beach town, but it’s more of the “stoned and barefoot in the sand” variety of beach town and less of the “tanning in Prada sunglasses” variety. I don’t know any famous people, but I made out with Lil Dicky once, does that count? I surfed one time, in San Sebastian, Spain, and I fell off the board. I don’t sound like a “Valley Girl,” but I do a pretty decent impression of one. My favorite thing to make - and consequently, eat - is a big fat plate of nachos, or basically anything else with melted cheese, and therefore lots of carbs. I’m writing this from the business class on a red-eye flight, wearing men’s pajama pants I’ve had for three years and a tank top I got at a thrift store in Guatemala in 2011. With no bra or makeup. I’m a walking Californian disappointment, basically.
Here’s the thing, though - although I don’t know anyone famous, anyone rich, or anyone who looks like Pamela Anderson, most of the California kids I do know are pretty awesome, San Francisco is amazing, and I’m lucky to live here.
What are some common stereotypes about people from your state or country? Let us know in the comments, we wanna hear ‘em!
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