Last week, a number of fashion bloggers and I got into a debate on Twitter about the value of labeling people. Some people found value in bloggers, and people in general, giving themselves a word or phrase they identify with. Plus-sized, feminist, petite, average, nerdy, liberal… whatever. On the other hand, I argued along with a majority of bloggers, that labels only serve to alienate and de-personify us.
To be honest, these labels drive me crazy. Sometimes they are put on us from the outside – that fashion magazine that tells us anything over a size 10 (US) is plus-sized. Sometimes we, without much thought, assume them – I’m a nerdy, bookworm… But a woman/man isn’t ‘plus-sized’ or ‘nerdy’ by definition. That might be a personality trait or a group she/he feels relates to, but that isn’t the essence of the person. She is first and foremost a person, a woman. He is first and foremost a person. After that the character traits and interests come into play.
I am not more me, when my hair is blonde (it changes colors often) – I am not a blonde. I’m a woman, who happens to have blonde hair about half of the year. I am not a liberal. I’m a woman who has some very left-leaning opinions on certain matters (and some right-leaning opinions on others).
This person-centered definition was something I was completely oblivious to until college when I met someone who dealt often with people who had handicaps. In conversation I told her how wonderful it was that she spent so much time with disabled people and she lost it in a tirade of angry words. She ranted – They were not disabled persons, they were people, first and foremost, people with disabilities. I’ve never forgotten her frustrated words – they taught me a lot about who we really are. The person always comes first, not the label.
I am not my major, my profession, my size, age, or political leaning. I am a person and so are you.
(pic from expression-of-the-mind.blogspot.com)