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LatinitasMagazine.org - A Strong Voice for Latina Youth

"Labels." This is something I have always thought deeply about. According to the website dictionary.reference.com," there are about 12 different meanings to the word "label." Out of all these literal meanings, my favorite one is the first one on the list: "a slip of paper, cloth, or other material, marked or inscribed, for attachment to something to indicate its manufacturer, nature, ownership, destination, etc." I like this meaning the best because aside from labeling something inanimate, we as humans are pretty much labeled the same way. All we need are "slips of paper, cloth or other materials, marked or inscribed" on us to identify who we are, where we have been and where we are going. There is no way to escape it or deny it, we are given labels from the day we are born, to the day we die and a lot times beyond that as well.

For example, when someone is born the obvious label is the birth certificate, but along with that other labels are given such as ill baby, good baby, fussy baby, spoiled baby, big baby, small baby, alert baby, ohh baby looks like mommy/daddy, etc. Then as the child enters school the label of student is obviously given but other labels are then given also, "oh your child is so advanced (smart student!), umm your child is not catching up quite like the others (special student!)", or the label most parents fear, "your child is creating too much commotion and not paying attention (disruptive student!). Then comes the most labeled stage of all, "teenager." Here the labels are numerous but the most common ones or perhaps the nicer ones are: goodie two shoes, jock, band geek, nerd, rebel, dropout, etc. It seems as though the labels in this stage are the most important for most teens because a lot of them feel like they have to belong somewhere, like they absolutely must be someone, as though these labels will be "inscribed" on them forever!

But the way I see no matter what stage in life we are in most of our labels will never be permanent, therefore we should never let our label bring us down or we should never take it for granted because sooner or later the label will be replaced with another. As adults the labels are endless and just like the defective label on a broken gadget can be changed when it’s fixed, our "slips of paper" can also be changed or replaced. We may also wonder about the kind of labels we can't change (female, male, Black, Latin, short, tall, etc.) but as far as I'm concerned those are the ones that truly define who we are so we should try and make the best of them or better yet be proud of them!

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Comment by cloud.eah on December 17, 2009 at 4:03pm
Marisol I think you are my role model. This is so powerful, when you asked about labels at the office I thought you were talking about stereotypes, but you are so right. I think they're are labels that change as you mature, educate yourself but there are labels that might stay, like your race and gender (like what we were talking about). Thanks for bringing this up!
:)
Comment by Rosana Lopez on December 17, 2009 at 3:18pm
Wow Marisol, i like how you put the word labels into perspective. I never really label myself but i am sure others do it for me lol. and yes its very true that we never hold a label for too long, its always replaced with another.


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