The Inherent Hindrance of Labels

by Carlie Burns ’27 on November 12, 2023


Parents assign their children specific names based on the notion that they need to be perceived in a certain way. Names are ultimately the basis of the identity, acting as a label which distinguishes an individual from others in society. They can be significant in expressing cultural and familial meanings; however, they also often tend to reflect the societal belief that certain names coincide with certain genders—a result of systemized gender stereotyping.

This idea is not only relevant to names but can also be extended to one’s identity in its entirety. Gender is a socially constructed concept, yet people conform to the stereotypes placed on their assigned gender, allowing it to dictate how they present themselves as well as how they behave. Do we choose how to dress out of genuine appeal and comfort, or to obey the feminine and masculine standards that are set for us?

It is true that we can find community in gender, as with other forms of identity, relating with others over shared experiences. However, if at times we don’t match up with the stereotypes placed upon these labels and the expectations surrounding them, we convince ourselves that we lack belonging and fail to properly align with an entire aspect of our identity. Rather than promoting conformity to labels, we should embrace the experiences of the individual, understanding that not one singular label is going to fit one person, for no two people are the same. With the eradication of labels, or rather just the stereotyping embedded in their nature, the expression of individuality is set free.