How much power does a word or label hold? Can a combination of letters cause you physical and mental pain based on the term or phrase they form? Who gets to decide how bad this pain is and how long it lasts? Is there a cure for the wombs these words may inflict?
Words only hold as much power as we choose to give them and yet battles are fought over a combination of letters every day.
Skinny. White. Modest. Pescatarian. Feminist. Artist. How much impact do the labels we’re given have on us? And who decides if said impact is positive or negative? I have spent the majority of my life leaning towards and preferring to live a label-less existence. Believing only too firmly that if I never stated specifically what camp I fell under I could never be called out for being a fraud. Standing here I wish I could say that words only hold as much power as we choose to give them and that people should stop being both unnecessary offended and so ready to hide behind the support and closure of a specific label. However, doing so may make me a bit of a hypocrite as labels have always scared me and therefore I have chosen to avoid them like the plague. Only now am I realizing maybe being anti-label (in my case) wasn’t about inclusion and freedom at all but more out of my own insecurities.
These words that I have listed in the title could in some way refer to me at this moment. To some just a cluster of meaningless words; to others, a weapon used to judge and imprison the people that wear them. Far from the type of person that passes judgment or forms assumptions based on a word, my fear has always been if I allow someone to label me or I do so myself than I am giving someone an opportunity to question my legitimacy.
Only I have witnessed first-hand people in my life that are unafraid of such things. Naively labeling themselves before they may have proven that they are indeed said thing. These individuals just decide “this is me” and tell the world. As it turns out that blind belief alongside their passion and hard work is exactly what they need to become the definition of their labels. I watch them now proudly and confidently fulfilling their dreams. In contrast here I stand years later still hoping to one day be able to describe myself with confidence.
So the struggle is to find a balance. As I still do not believe in giving letters, words, phrases, labels or titles too much power. Believing words should never be equated to actual physical violence or finality as if once labeled that person can’t change their mind or function outside of some preformed terms. However, I do want to gain some peace and clarity about who I am. And most importantly stop being afraid to announce my presence in the world.
Finding a Balance
In order to overcome this possible fear of labels, I am going to be writing a series of posts under the title Label Me: “Blank” where I plan on tackling labels that could very much describe me and why.
Featured Image: ELLE. Photography: Marco van Rijt. Styled by: Maya Soul Paustian. Hair: Mette Thorsgaard at lundlund. Makeup: Trine Skjøth at lundlund using Chanel Beauty. Model: Agnes Anjou Olofsson. <Photos from fashioneditorials.com>