Last week’s Striking Mums post was about style but when I talk about labels this week I am not talking about designer ones. I am talking about the labels used about us by ourselves and others, the things that I said to identify us.
Like other mums, I carry the labels of woman, daughter and mum. For me sister is a bit complicated because officially I don’t have any but blood-wise I have at least three sisters. I guess that goes to show that adopted was always a big label for me marking me out as different from people at school and so on. Mum used to do her best to say it actually meant chosen but then and now I tended to focus on the fact that it must also mean rejected. Identity matters and I think adopted people often feel that keenly because by the time they become aware, one of their identities has already disappeared. Is that why I insisted on keeping my maiden name as part of my married name I wonder?
Perhaps you have a religious label. I am a Roman Catholic and have heard a few negative labels about that one in my time.
You become a pupil at some point carrying some sort of loyalty to your school and perhaps like me you go on to become a student. I went to Cambridge and there are huge assumptions made about people who carry the “Oxbridge” label. Apparently I should be highly intelligent, posh and rich – really?! At university, the label of our subject area was huge so that “lawyers” tended to stick together and one subject area’s student may well look down at students from another group. As a collegiate university, there were also labels attached according to which college you attended.
Entering the workplace, I joined the charity world so inevitably the do gooder label made its way into my world along with expectations of amateur work performance. Wrong again. Yes I did good and sometimes got paid for it too but I took pride in my wrk and delivered often with very limited human and financial resources.
You become a mum and the media will do its utmost to convince you that you are inadequate in some way or to set you up against other mums that are not exactly like you.
I remember my Mum defined people as well-to-do, rough or like us. I guess labels act as shorthand way of describing and assessing people at best. On the other hand, shouldn’t we be seizing the power and selecting our own labels?
In a lifetime, people will give you labels and some of them will change a lot.
I once was told I must be a vegetarian as I was so skinny. That was clearly a very long time ago and now I carry the fat or obese label and hate it.
People who get close to me will comment on how much I talk but if you don’t know me well that might surprise you as I will be the quiet one in a social setting if I am feeling unsure.
My mum’s friend always used to say how beautiful I was but nobody else has ever really thought so perhaps with the exception of my own children.
Other labels folks have used about me over the years include:
1. If I gave you a label and pinned it to you and you were allowed to put just 3 words on it, which would you choose?
2. What labels that others have used about you do you think are spot on?
3. Has having a particular label ever got you into trouble or held you back?
4. Does or did one of your labels mark you out as very different from others in your circles?
5. Which label are you particularly proud of?
In the blogging world, I think labels can be dangerous too. On either a monthly or yearly basis, I see bloggers allowing their self-belief to be defined by a score, a nomination or an award. We are more than our blogs and we are more than any commendation for our blog that happens to come our way through whatever reason (sometimes hard work, sometimes a stroke of good luck and sometimes through a whole lot of self-promotion) Our blog labels like other ones may change over time. One day we may be a granny blogger and not a mummy blogger. I might suddenly develop a new interest, blog about it and become known for that instead of whatever I am known for today.
I guess that is a good way to conclude. If we don’t like our labels, we can change most of them. If we do like our labels, we should celebrate them.
I have more to say on this I think but for now I am going to close or this post will be too long.