Sometimes we become the labels we are given, other times we run away.Whether they where passed onto us from another, or given to us by ourselves, either way the labels and stereotypes that surround us ultimately come to shape the way we identify. How we react and absorb these branding terms are crucial factors in developing your sense of self. Though stereotyping can’t alone dictate the fate of your future, it does create a springboard of conflicting thought and confusion of self-identity. As we progress and evolve with each new generation, so do our opinions and defining views of what social stereotypes are.
We are all aware of the common labels of identification, (gay, straight, prep, jock, etc.) and we are all aware of how they are defined. But a direct definition isn’t always relevant to how it is currently viewed and perceived based on current media and social trends. So the question is, what do these labels and terms mean today to our current generations and trends of thought?
This stereotypical box isn’t as solid as it used to be. Terms such as gay and straight hold standard definitions, though identification from one self to what these terms mean doesn’t always match up to traditional definitions. Gay is no longer as simply defined as relations between two of the same gender. Straight is no longer simply defined as relations between two opposing genders. As trends of thought expand what it means to identify by gender, style and spiritually, the defining terms of labels will adapt and change as societal world perspectives continue to change.
As we grow, we have taken steps to becoming more socially aware and open as a global community. Continuing redefining ourselves, it’s only appropriate to take a time to step back and redefine how we view and perceive what these labels and terms come to mean.
Becoming more socially aware of who we are individually, it is only natural to reject surrounding labels that we don’t identify to, even when forced onto us by opposing elements. This rejecting comes blind — any label/stereotype, good or bad, subconsciously will be rejected and cause internal conflict if it is how an individual feels themselves to be.
“I don’t want to be labeled gay; I want to be labeled a human who loves humans. I’m in an amazing, happy relationship, but I don’t need categorizing statement for it.”
— City College student Raven Simone
America is a mixing pot of diverse cultures, and will only continue to be stirred. All labels, good and bad (successful, loser, gay, straight, prep, nerd, etc.), in one way or another is a defining label providing an unrealistic image that the individual feels they must live up to.
Every label influences a person’s talents, personal traits and insecurities. Only with an absence from all labels can we truly become self aware of who we are and what we want to become. Though it’s a process that will take time to be accepted and applied, it is not something new to us. Walls dividing our diverse cultures have and will always be there, and as time continues, one by one they are being torn down. With each step in progression, a new wall of division will arise calling for attention. We have overcome much already as a community — from slavery to ethnic differences — and it is time we take on one of these final walls of identification and stereotyping.
So what comes next? To be empowered, each of us must take a moment to remove ourselves from the labels branded upon us and then view each other without assumptions. How much longer will we allow labels and stereotypes to influence our awareness and fates?
Absence of label and stereotype identification is a big step, but a strong step to a better, stronger future for our individual identifications, and for the unity of our society as a whole.
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