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Question: What significance to labels carry?

Updated: Mar 21, 2018

For a while I’ve wanted to write about the struggles of balancing my sometimes “hippie-ish” lifestyle with my firey Italian-Puerto Rican Jersey girl personality and academic commitment to evidence based medicine all as tools to helping me attain a path where I could help other people. Well, here goes.

Those who know me can be spotted calling me a little hippie… “-ish” (see both the little and the hippie apply here as I’m 5’0”) from time to time. I say “-ish” for fear of real hippies that may read my blog and later comment that I don’t meet the criteria. I try to steer clear of certain labels as best I can. Mostly because I believe we are all unique in our own right listing experiences and qualities of numerous labels in the folders of our own lives while not always filling in the boxes next to all relevant characteristics for those label criteria check lists.

In any regard, those people who make an attempt to label me “hippie-ish” probably wouldn’t be too far off. I mean, I generally have an open mind, if that’s what they’re calling “hippie” these days. I guess the fact that I eat a mostly plant based diet, practice yoga and meditation, love animals and see absolutely nothing wrong with hugging trees, might also have informed their suggestion. Notice the reference to a plant based diet and resistance to any one term like “lacto-ovo-vegetarian” or “vegan”. Hmm, is this the same as someone on an Atkins diet who eats a piece of cake needing to call themselves “low-carb based”? In any case, this is the convention I choose to go with, again for the purpose of emphasizing the general tendencies, choices and lifestyle moreso than any label. What are those tendencies, choices and lifestyle then, you ask? I have been plant based for over a decade for man-E (sorry, I had to) reasons: Ethical, Environmental and Economical. However, an “all or none” that some labels get you is not necessarily my approach to these issues, the three E’s. I digress; there will be many a blog entry on this to come.

The reason that the “hippie-ish” label, inspired me to blog is not to create another granola loving recipe log or the sort (though I’m sure there will be some of that), but because I think there are a few characteristics listed in my life folder that make my message unique. I’m “hippie-ish” with a real passion for hard-core evidence based science and medicine. Now, I know already half my readers or more are thinking, “Ummm what evidence [for any of the things you listed prior]?!” Yes, I know. Calm down. That’s exactly why I needed a blog. I suppose a book could do it, but there are a ton of those out there already. I will, hopefully, use my blog as a means of addressing all of those descriptors and the novels I refer to in entries to come. For now, just go with me here for this entry.

Some of my labels include “hippie-ish” and “plant based” mixed with “med student” and “scientist” or “academic”, with some “dancer” and “jersey girl” or even “strong woman” thrown in there. I also have some nicknames like “shorty” among other identifiers, I’m sure, and I know I’ve been called worse. Some of these are crucial words I carry with pride of my identity, italicizing their font in the folder of my life. With some I struggle to find true meaning or reason. Still others I could do entirely without. A few I’ve chosen myself and others have been tossed upon me. Don’t we all have this collection? This is mine, but for you it may be an LGBT, race, or personality trait or unique characteristic label. What if we could all recognize that labels are just words? We all have them. We all use them. The saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” is certainly self-empowering, but it should be taken a step further to bring to our own awareness the labels we use to address others. I think one of the best examples of this that comes to mind is eloquently said, though not necessarily through “politically correct dialogue”, by one of my many favorite broadway plays (now off-broadway); Avenue Q.

Maybe we don’t need to change the labels we use, but could the awareness of them alone bring us some world peace? So, I pose to you… what significance do labels, and the awareness of them, carry?

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