This post was contrived by me after being inspired by Justin V.’s new post, “Let the Judging Begin”.  Tobeme also wrote an article about labels, entitled, “What Labels Are You Wearing?”.  To be honest, my comment on Justin’s site got too long again, and I had to break it up somehow. This part of my comment is also very personal, so I place it here:

Here’s an example of a label being placed on me and how it affected my whole life.  My first grade year the girls wore corsages and brought in cupcakes or goodies on their birthdays.I couldn’t wait for my birthday and hoped that my parents would get me a corsage.I forget if I told them about it or not.

When my birthday came, I got my corsage and went to school, but I didn’t have anything for the class. I think I got recognition from the teacher, but then I did not pass anything out to my classmates. I can still remember the mean kids taunting me because I didn’t have something for them. In particular, a giant of a girl and I remember her twisted, contorted face as she looked over from the next row and berated me because I didn’t have cupcakes. I was mortified and didn’t say anything and it was all I could do to hold back the tears. It felt as if my heart would explode. That stuck with me. To this day, when I cry, it’s the silent cry. I will never show my tears, if I can help it.

I was just a 6 yr old kid and didn’t know anything about such things. Those kids put an unspoken label on me from that incident that said, “target for meanness” and my shyness did not help matters because I did not defend myself, though one time I did get into a fight with a boy.I remember the built up blind rage that exploded that time was unbelievable.  For eight years I was harassed by the kids in my class, made fun of, pranks, you name it.  All the girls in my class would not speak to me because they knew that if they did, THEY would then be shunned as well.  The boys talked to me, but only to taunt me and to curse me and to provoke me into conflict.

It was during my first grade year that my weight ballooned. I know because I’ve seen pictures. Before then, I was a normal sized kid. My first grade pictures, I was much heavier. No body saw anything, nobody noticed. Nothing was done. My parents were useless to me at that time… though I realize that they were inexperienced and those times (mid 60’s) were not like these times. There was no internet or readily accessible source of information. Still, I can’t help but wonder how they did not recognize that I was not myself…. the “me” they had known before I went to school.

I site this example because I wanted to show how deeply labels can hurt. Now, it seems so far away, but it haunts me. I am okay now, but I carried a lot of baggage from this situation for many, many years. I finally let it go in my mid 30’s and I can’t really say that I feel anything about it now, only to say that I will never forget it and pray that I will be a vigilant mother, looking out for hints of problems that may plague my son. H0pefully, he will charm the pants (not literally) off his classmates!