Everyone knows that labels fly around the fashion industry, and not the good kind. Models, writers, photographers, designs all get labelled at some stage and that can be constricting, offensive and destructive. Labels have always been a thing that should remain on jars and not people. However, labels go far beyond the fashion industry. I could sit here and go on about how models are labelled 'fat' or 'skinny', but this is an everyday issue. ‘Label jars not people'. Its pretty self explanatory. And while it’s a bit old, and possibly overused, it’s sentiments ring truer than ever. We label a jar of raspberry jam ‘raspberry jam’ because it’s a jar that contains raspberry jam. We label a can of tomato soup ‘tomato soup’ because that’s what it is; tomato soup.
We call them posh because they went to a private fee paying school or a prestigious college. We call him a Kna**** because he has a thick Dublin accent. She’s a nerd because she does well in school and spends time studying. We call her a s**t because she is sexually experienced. We call him a bailer because he decided not to come out last minute. We call him an alcoholic because he drinks loads on a night out, we call her lame if she doesn't. We call him camp or gay if he’s in any way flamboyant. She’s butch because she cuts her hair short and wears checked shirts. She’s a fag-hag because she hangs out with gay people. It goes on.
Now I will be the first to admit that I have used some of these terms in a playful manner. We all have. But some people go a step to far every time and it has a huge impact on the person receiving the insult. Did you ever stop to think that behind the labels, there are actual people, human beings. Labels are unwanted, unrequited and needless. The only thing we should ever be called is our name. It’s a common fixture amongst young people, but one that radically needs to be eliminated. Labels hurt. No-one forgets what they were branded especially when friends do it, be intentionally or often as the case may be, unintentionally.
These days, being different still isn't really the done thing. Conforming is the easiest way, following the crowd. It takes a brave person to stand up, and not follow the flock. It is so difficult to be able to find your feet and find your place amongst your group of friends. Labels can destroy us, whether we realize it or not. After being told something enough, you start to believe it. When you’re young, sometimes you don’t know any better. Labels are only skin deep, if even, but sometimes skin deep is enough to do the damage.
Labels also encompass the mental illnesses themselves. People throwing around terms they thought they knew about, when in fact they were mistaken. Calling someone schizophrenic when that wasn't the case at all, or saying someone’s ‘bipolar’ or ‘depressed’ when they don’t truly know. A trained medical professional has the degree and the authority to use these terms on someone, but again, going back to my previous point, they aren't all the person is. There is much more to someone than the supposed label they have been given.
It’s time to put down the label maker. Time to start seeing the whole person, and if you can’t, appreciate that there are reasons for certain things. Everyone has a story.