Press on Label

I’ve been dancing with this idea for a few days … lots of people have had different ideas and questions.  But really – it all comes to labeling someone or something.  See – I think that we have a need in our lives to have some neat little package that explains just what something is.  We have a word that will describe things:  when I use the word ‘table’, everyone has an idea of what a table is.

To label a person: the labels become more a loaded gun; connotations and emotions tied into words that describe a person or personality.  See – I can use mother, woman, lover, blonde, Caucasian, short, slim, and curvy: the list goes on.  But, just what those words mean to everyone else – what you get as a ‘mind image’ and your reaction to that image are all going to be different.

Or think about that phase where we used things to express our ‘individuality’:  the teen years.  How some cloaked themselves in long bangs or black, donned ‘shocking’ clothing and accessories, maybe even wore our underwear on the outside.  Look around and find at least one, and usually several expressing themselves and their individuality in exactly the same way.

If no label truly just defines WHO you are why do we strive to emulate the ones that we find attractive as some sort of personal mantra? We’ve all seen the people who seek to convince us of their superiority and good fit to a label: they consistently tell us how wonderful, sexy, smart, enlightened, researched, open minded, they are.   Then there are those that are (__insert positive trait here  ), and they exist quietly : their actions are the positive attribute.

It all sprung from a set of posts from the Urban Dictionary by friends on Facebook. Enter your name and see it defined.  But, mine – wasn’t there.  Variations: sound the same with different spelling, seven million entries for Ashley and all of the variations; but none for mine.  So a suggestion was posed – that I write my own.  And it’s damnably difficult to do.  Either completely expound on every word to limit connotations; or accepting labels with connotations.  But what about the pieces that aren’t so wonderful – those pieces of me that I am still trying to organize and either change or decide how the negative can be useful?

Labels are handy, an internal shorthand that puts people we encounter into little outlines where we sort them into ‘not interested’ to ‘has potential’ to ‘impressed’ and all of those other little spaces that keep our need for having some sort of communal language to define one person to another.  It’s my table theorem.  That someone can say of me ____ — and immediately everyone understands.  Or at least is close to the same idea.

And, it’s far easier to admit that while I don’t like being labelled – I want to have it be accurate and feel right to give everyone who hears it the right idea.

And then – it dawned on me.

I had one of those.


**some of you may recognize this as rework. It is that. My apologies. But I have been all day playing with formatting and questions and ideas… and trying to get ideas formulated for this and Watermelon and Sea Salt : the food/ house ideas blog.


2 thoughts on “Press on Label

  1. i have so many labels now that i wonder what use they really have. people slap them on you for reasons that make sense to them…she’s a mother like me. she’s a liberal like me.

    finding your own in a group of unknowns. shrugs. i tend to look for the people that are not like me so i can learn something. i adore a good argument….one of my favorite friends is an artist with whom i fight all the time…smiles.

    but for some who have fought hard for their label, who have endured great pain and great distance from society, i can see that culturally their differnce is critical to their sense of self. and that respect shold be paid both for the battle and for the inherent differnces that drove the battle. i will never know what it is to walk in a balck person’s skin.

    • I think they are a great shorthand. But if that is ALL people see, or all they choose to define themselves then it becomes a problem.
      I don’t think you ‘fight’ FOR your label. I don’t know anyone who has fought TO be some shorthand description of one facet of their being. I’ve seen people do that out of insecurity in certain situations, but that isn’t a mission – it’s a disorder.

      Like anything – they have good uses and bad. And how you order them is also telling. I tend to want to describe from the “inside out”, while others will start with physical and work inward. We work with what is most important to us in the moment and perhaps tailor to the audience. What I find is I learn as much about the person doing the labeling of another, as I do about the one being described: and sometimes more.

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