No, not the ones on your clothing or your car or your purse. I am talking about the ones we give ourselves, the ones others give us, the ones that we use to define who we are.
There has been a lot written this past week about labels and about using our words well, especially when speaking to or about mothers and/or our parenting choices and styles. The lovely Amber McCann wrote this post and it really got me thinking about the labels we use daily. And then I read Claire Weissinger's essay entitled "Watch Your Language" and that gave me even more food for thought. I agree with these ladies wholeheartedly that yes, words are very, VERY powerful. If they weren't, would the blogging world be what it is today?
Words do a lot of things.
They connect us.
They divide us.
They make us feel good and yes, they can make us feel awful too.
And words define us.
Take a look at yours and anyone else's profile or bio on any of the multiple social media sites you are on and you will likely see things like this:
"Breastfeediing, Cloth Diapering, Co-sleeping, non-vaxing, home-schooling, crunchy mama to (insert # of children here)"
"WAHM", "SAHM", "SAHD"
"Breast Cancer Survivor"
And the list goes on and on and on and on....
These are the labels that we give ourselves. The ones we write down or type into our iPads and laptops and smart phones and put out there for the world to see.
We do this for one reason.
We do this for connection. To say to the world-wide web, "This is me and I like me. Are YOU like me?"
I like to call this finding your tribe. And really, is this not the first thing you tell people who are new to social media sites? Especially Twitter? We tell newbies to "Go forth young tweeter and follow people who have the same interests as you. The ones that validate your own labels and share your beliefs." At least that is how it starts right? And then you find other people or they find you, and maybe they question your labels and beliefs and then Wowie, Zowie, you learn something new-either about yourself or the world! Or you just block them. ;)
I personally have chosen the label "Lipstick Crunchy" for myself. I am crunchy in the sense that I use cloth diapers for my children, I breastfeed said children to at least age three, I am such an avid babywearer that I have sought certification as a Babywearing Educator, I buy local & organic food as much as I can and I eliminate as many toxic chemicals in our house as possible. And I have a secret obsession for all things tye-dyed!
I am Lipstick in the sense that I spend at least $150.00 every few months on my hair (but I do get bonus points here because my stylist uses organic hair dyes). I have no problem wearing leather in the form of a really gorgeous and killer pair of chocolate-brown knee-high boots, I do NOT own any full length 100% hemp skirts, and I just can't DO mama cloth or family cloth because of the 'ick' factor. I believe that holistic and modern medicine can co-exist and that vaccines are important in our world (just maybe on more of a delayed/extended schedule than currently recommended). Oh yeah, and the new Smarties with their 'no artificial colours' - HATE THEM! And yes, I still eat Smarties-even though Nestle makes them (don't all GASP at once)!
There are many other reasons that my label fits me and I am GOOD with all of them. I am proud of the person that I am (I have worked damn hard to get here) and if I have to write a bio somewhere, you can bet that I am going to write my label down for all to see.
So, yes, words are powerful. We DO have to watch how we use them in this blogging, Twittering, Facebooking world. But I say we should also embrace them and OWN them. When that happens, then NO ONE can use those words and those labels to hurt you or make you feel bad or guilty about anything!
Live it and love it!