Labels for people- do we need them?

Today’s blog is slightly different but still relevant, bear with me…

On Tuesday I got a text from my best friend asking if I wanted to go and see Sophie Willan on Thursday (last night) because she is a comedian with a show that is based on a foundation that is not unlike my blog. My initial thought was “who?”, which was quickly followed by “why not?”

So, last night, off we went to the Northern Stage to see Sophie do her stuff. Her show was based on taking her own labels and ‘rebranding’ them. It was incredible, this woman- who’s life began in a similar way to mine- took her labels and challenged them. It was raw, it was deep and it was genuinely hilarious!

It was also massively thought provoking for me and got me thinking of my own labels (and my friends and families) and whether I am okay with them. This is what I thought.

Take “fostered child” for example. The label itself is not inaccurate, I was a fostered child. The subtext that goes with the label is what gets at me, there is a stigma that we are all meant to be a certain way. We have a couple of personality options (ranging from “drug addict/ alcoholic” to “successful against the odds”) to choose from and that’s it. Our stories are inspirational or a warning and that’s pretty much it.

That is NOT OKAY!

Another, about my Mother this time. “Schizophrenic”. This is super important for doctors/ professionals and again, is not inaccurate. But what are the personality choices? There are multiple! (Pardon the pun). None of them are particularly good though, they range from “dangerous” to “incapable of making any decisions” to “the type you don’t want to get stuck talking to”.

This is NOT OKAY!

Labels are put on real people, you know. People who have so much depth and so much more to offer than their category might suggest.

My personal thought is let’s leave the labels to medical terms and food packages where they have a place and a purpose.

Choose to see the relentless positivity in the Fostered Child or the kind heart and hilarious quirks in the Schizophrenic.

Don’t let someone’s label be a reason to judge them.

If I’ve learned one thing about people, it’s that they always surprise you.

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