When did designer labels move from clothing to individual badges of honor? The trend of collecting and displaying labels that identify personal uniqueness and self-proclaimed struggles has permanently invaded the ecosystem. People are wearing badges declaring not only their politics, but their stand on science, history, and reality; every aspect of their life journey; gender/sexual identity; food predilections; spiritual/religious alignment or superiority; and trendy disease diagnosis. Suddenly people are itemizing all the ways they are individuals in an edgy tribe, do not have to apologize or deal with their behaviors because they are on a designer spectrum or are led by a higher being, or have struggled against the odds.
Not only are people wearing labels like bumper-stickers with pride, but they are forcing them on others. I have been a vegetarian since I was 18, but do make chicken soup once a year with a real (kosher) chicken. The power of the soup, after all, is in the chicken. This makes me suspect among committed political vegetarians. I have also been known on rare occasion to eat fish when ordered to due to low protein levels. When revealing this tidbit I was forcefully informed that I was a pescatarian. There was no room for argument, the label gods had spoken.
In the same time frame I was informed that I was not really a feminist because I did not attend a women’s march but rather donated blood. When I mentioned my history of suing a big oil company for sexual discrimination and harassment, and breaking glass ceilings in various institutions, I was told that those efforts did not count since they benefited me.
But what pushed me over the edge was a colleague using an “on the spectrum” label to explain their hurtful and rude behaviors. I am confused. And irritated. And over it.
Feel free to display all your self-claimed badges but do not force me to join this dance. Yes, many of these labels are real and useful, but many are not, and become self-serving barriers and excuses. Or perhaps performance art. Is the badge now defining and molding you? Labels will never take the place of apologies and using them in that way is insulting. And (trigger warning) I am capable of supporting your uniqueness while refusing to proclaim mine. I am starting a new “non-labeled” trend.
2 thoughts on “Non-Labeled”
Labels as you describe them, are to me, best summed up as pride and vanity. Pride falsely assumed, and vanity an illusion of the mind and spirit. They say that greed, vanity and pride are the root of all evil”: they produce an “bad” restlessness in the human spirit, fruit of a dirty conscience. I think our soul can be consumed by two types of worry: a good one gifted us by nature and the universe (God if you will), that spurs an anxious soul to do good things” and a “bad worry, one that is born of a guilty conscience”. In today’s world there is far too much of the bad spirit in things. Confusion, anxiety, rudeness….the best we can do is improve our piece of the world and call out others on their negativity.
I like all your articles and I thought you should know, this one particularly hit home! You go Elisa! Yaa