Monday, 8 August 2016

Are we truly slaves to the world of labels?

In today’s scenario, not many individuals concern themselves much about individuality, unique personal identity, and self-perception. An avalanche of brands, labels, and trends in all spheres of life have gradually transformed humanity into slaves so that people’s lives were turned into simple existence, focused solely on this dynamic never ending label race. As a society, many of us have now become concerned with having the latest fashions, how we look and are always endeavoring towards impressing others, even if we are oblivious of this conduct. Our preoccupation with our exterior persona has diverted us from our true self. Some of us strive for years to achieve a level where others recognize us as being successful.

We women today are raised with sky-high expectations that we would have it all: killer career, happy family, great body and granite in the kitchen. And while we know that having it all, may resemble a goal which has been long chased, it can be a dangerous pipe dream that leaves us second-guessing ourselves and feeling that we don’t measure up- still we aspire.

Label denotes an item used to identify something or someone. It might be a small piece of paper or cloth attached to an article to designate its origins, owner, contents, use or designation so that recipients would receive all the necessary information about the object. Myriads of typical labels and prejudices are perpetuated by the community itself, and not only confined to the sphere of trade, like financial status, race, religion, gender to name a few. They are used widely by the members of the society, so should someone not fit a particular stereotype, he or she would inevitably be somewhat rejected from society or just abandoned by the mass. Take, for instance, same-sex marriage, a ‘phenomenon’ far from acceptable by most of the people, even today. Although we can talk about equality, freedom, right to live a happy, normal life but still the homosexuals are socially handicapped, even if we consider them to be legally accepted. Anything out of the ordinary, the conventional establishments such as a single mother, an unmarried woman in her late 30s, a stay at home father/husband is immediately shrugged off by the society. Why? Because it’s difficult to comprehend or maybe it is strenuous to accept the fact that people can actually live a happy and fulfilling life, even if they choose to live a one that falls outside the paradigm of what is considered as normal by many of us.

Suffering for beauty, was a concept familiar to most women; squeezing their feet into uncomfortable high heels or even surgically enhancing parts of their anatomy or binding their feet to turn themselves into three inch golden lotuses, which was perhaps one of the most shocking trend associated with the Chinese culture, people are still inclined to go to extremes in a quest to achieve desirable results, so that the end justifies the excruciating means. Sacrificing their health, values, interests, individuality, the vast majority of people simply follow the stereotypes instead of thinking logically and rationally.

Still, there are archetypes or ideals, for things like physical beauty, templates or patterns for life sequences like college/marriage/family life. We can recognize some benefits associated with theso called labels, in the form of providing goals or guides for making choices and directing our lives further. We want to be like the people in the spotlight, with the perfect looks, perfect measurement, and perfect lives. This leaves us feeling inadequate, tempting to go to extremes for achieving something that we don’t even desire. It requires courage to be different or divergent, if phrased in a way to understand its reference. We have to stop following the inferred labels. It is okay not to stick to the social stereotypes where one has to go to college at twenty, get married, have kids at thirty/forty, earn a handsome salary, only at the cost of letting go our personal aspirations, dreams, and hopes. Different, creative and inimitable are traits to be proud of. It is difficult to get rid of widespread labels, that affect everybody and everything, but it is worth giving a shot.

Written by Chhavi Minhas
“A free spirit, dreamer and admirer of this puzzle called life”

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