Thursday, May 13, 2010

Labels and Personal Identity

Hey every body!

I just read an interesting article over at Scoutiegirl and at the bottom she asks the readers to join in…so I thought I would.

The reason for this is that I have been struggling with the idea of labels a lot lately and its  been something I've been bugging my friends about…so now I’m gonna bug you instead.

If someone were to ask me to describe myself I would probably say costume maker first up, but the truth is I quit my job as a costume maker about eighteen months i then still a costume maker?
Perhaps second third and fourth (and with my teeth clenched) teacher, designer, craftsman,  perhaps even artist… and with some of the things I’m planning for the future I might have to get used to the label entrepreneur…wow scary!
The label costume maker comes to me very comfortably because I did that as a job for more than ten years but teacher, designer, craftsman and artist are labels I have been struggling with. I think this comes down to one point. I am all of these things at different times, and these labels just describe aspects of me and the things I do; but no single one of them fit perfectly. Can you be an artist with out being a designer or a designer with out being artistic? Arn't all artists entrepreneurial by the very deffinition of the word?

But why is it that some people adopt labels so quickly and others have trouble finding a good fit?

Well that is an answer vastly different for everyone but there are common factors...
We use labels to define our ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, political orientation, religious/spiritual beliefs, lifestyle, eating habits, economic status, social status, body size, appearance and the list goes on.

How many labels can you use to define yourself? How many labels do you think others use to define you?

Now although it is true that labels can define, it is also true they simultaneously create stereotypes, assumptions, misconceptions, segregate and allow for the perpetuation of misinformation.

The labels we use to identify ourselves and others are greatly influenced by our own personal identity, social influences, and environment. As complex social creatures we have a strong need to belong to certain groups but also to disassociate ourselves form other groups to strengthen the bond to the group in which we wish to belong.

Interesting and complex stuff… huh?

Anyway while I was thinking about this in the shower I came to an interesting conclusion, or well question(s)

Can these labels really describe who I am? …what is a label?

And the answer is No, because a label is just a word made up of letters with an assumption attached to it.

In fact ten, twenty, a hundred or even thousands of labels can’t actually describe who I am. So there is no need for me to put such importance on how I label myself but just to use the best fitting word (label) at the time of need.
Suddenly the words (labels) teacher, artist designer and entrepreneur don’t seem like such a big deal.

What do you think?

Do you struggle with labels or have you found a comfortable fit?


  1. Labels are a way for the other person in conversation to feel comfortable enough to continue conversation or introduce me to another.

  2. Agreed, Rebecca. I also think that labels, like many things in life can be true and not true, even at the same time. That's the beauty of life, always flowing, tumbling away, slipping out your grasp, looking back, winking, and daring you to catch up.

    Emily (ciaohowdy)

  3. I think that’s very true Emily, which is why I wanted to write about it...
    It is a very interesting topic and obviously we have only touched the tip of the ice burg on this topic...

    Thanks for your comments guys; it reminds me I’m not just talking to myself... makes my day…hehehe