Stigma is a Greek word. Sociologist Erving Goffman wrote a fascinating book on the topic of stigma. It is written in detail there. Social stigma can occur in many different forms. Common ones deal with culture, obesity, gender, race, illness, and disease. The stigmatized people, feel as though they are transforming from a whole person to a tainted one.
They feel different and devalued by others. It especially happens in the workplace, educational settings, health care, the criminal justice system, and even in their own family.
Example- the parents of overweight women are less likely to pay for their daughter's college education than are the parents of average- weight women.
It can also be described as a label that associates a person to an asset of unwanted characteristics that form a stereotype. It is also affixed. Once it is identified they label your differences and others will assume that is just how things are and the person will remain stigmatized until the stigmatizing attribute is undetected.
A considerable amount of generalization is required to create groups, meaning that you put someone in a general group regardless of how well they actually fit into that group.
According to time and place the attributes that society select differs. What is considered out of place in one society could be the norm in another.
The individuals are categorized in the society into certain groups that the labeled person is subjected to status loss and discrimination. Once the cultural stereotype is secured the society will start to form expectations about those groups.
Stigma may affect the behavior of those who are stigmatized. The stereotyped people often start to act in ways that their stigmatizers expect of them. It not only changes their behavior, but it also shapes their emotions and beliefs. Because of this, identity theories have become highly researched. Identity threat theories can go hand-in-hand with labeling theory.
The members start to become aware that they aren't being treated the same way and they are probably being discriminated against. Studies have shown that "by 10 years of age, most children are aware of cultural stereotypes of different groups in society, and children who are members of stigmatized groups. At an even younger age, they are aware of cultural types."