We were sitting outside having lunch when my friend said, “you know everyone can fit into one category or another.” We then continued to have our lunch while naming off different people we had interacted with that day. It seemed like we were just having a fun lunch, talking about our friends and the people surrounding us but we were really doing something else all together. We were labeling them.
For some reason, our culture, society, generation, family, friends, whoever, and whatever you want to call it, we’ve hit this desire to fit people into these little boxes. Which is okay, I guess (it’s good to be a little organized), but then we go and write on each other’s boxes. We write “NERD” “BASIC” “HIPSTER” “DRUNK” “SLUT” in our black permanent marker so that we know where they belong in our lives.
Yes, people do generally fit into a category in some way but that doesn’t give us the right to just stick them somewhere and file them away with all the other people we deem similar. Let me get one thing across loud and clear:
Labels were not designed for people; they’re for clothes.
They were made for communication reasons. Labels tell us what’s inside of a product. The issue with labeling people is we apply what we see onto a living, breathing individual and it doesn’t tell us everything inside.
Most the time, labels are way off. Like that girl at the party that you wrote the big “SLUT” on. Yep, the same one in those short shorts and eight inch heels. She’s actually a really great friend; like the kind that’s there for you when everyone else is miles away. Also she has been dating her current boyfriend for three years now. She just came out to this particular party to have a fun night with her friends.
It’s not like these accusations actually tell us anything about people, if you really think about it. What does “basic” even mean? That she drinks a lot of Starbucks as opposed to the hipster who drinks his coffee at little independent coffee shops while indie music plays? I know coffee is a big part of most people’s lives, but where you drink it shouldn’t define you that much.
it most definitely shouldn’t categorize you any differently.
The main issue with labels is that no one is in just one category. People are complex beings, therefore everyone is some sort of hybrid. To one person, you could be a drunk slutty hipster. To someone else, you could be a cutting-edge trend-setter who enjoys exploring her sexuality. And even more everyone’s definition of each category is varied based on the people they think fit into it the very best. My views on basic white girls could be completely different than the guy that sits next to be in class’s idea of one.
Is it really our fault that we categorize the people around us? Probably not. We grew up going to school where there was some form of hierarchy based on where individuals fit in. Meaning we were taught to think about people in this way. It probably can be linked all the way back to a time when King’s ruled the world and your class status was all that mattered. But just because it’s what we have always done, doesn’t mean it’s what needs to continue to happen.
What if our generation was the first one to stop and think about who a person is instead of just looking at people by where they fit in our society. I mean after all the impulse to group people together and fit them into boxes is just social constructed. What if we were the first generation to let people be people. What if we let them out of their boxes?
Featured image via Kristen Curette.