Human Beings, not Cans of Soup

January 18, 2009
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Labels. Mention them to an adult, and they will most likely think of grocery stores, with good reason. Labels are things that should remain on food items, clothing, etc. Anything but human beings. A child of the 21st century, I no longer have the privilege to honestly state that labels bring images of Publix to mind. Rather than cans of Campbell soup, I am bombarded with thoughts of school, cliques, people. I’m sure that it applies to you, as well. Words like ‘prep, skater, emo, rocker, nerd,’ and even the occasional ‘gangster’ have become part of an average teenagers everyday vocabulary. Used on colloquial levels, we all know what they mean.

Usually, the way we dress, speak, or act render us one of the above labels. Many times, we change outfits for fear of being called something we’re not. It might sound horribly dramatic, but it feels as our right to freedom of speech has been stolen. If we dress all in black with heavy eyeliner one day, but in khakis and a polo the next, we’re automatically labeled as posers. Why? Because today’s youth has been programmed to judge books by their covers. Words are the new weapons of mass destruction, with images at the center of the war.

I’m only one person. I alone cannot annihilate labeling. But what I can do is ask myself: what in the world happened to originality? All of a sudden, having your own sense of style is frowned upon. Mixing a studded belt with a Hollister top is now considered a crime punishable by law. Thanks to labels, beauty is no longer in the eye of the beholder, but in the brand of our clothing.

We’re human beings, each born equal. What we decide to make of ourselves thereafter is our own affair. Nowhere along the path should we resort to falling under predetermined, generic categories. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to survive without following the crowd. And, contrary to popular belief, we’re human beings; not cans of soup.

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This article has 9 comments. Post your own now!

LadyKraken This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm
Stop talking. Labels are not necessary, no, but they allow a quick and easy explanation for our interests and personalities. What do you want to do about labeling sexuality? Do you want to strip people of their identities so you can make yourself seem progressive and cool and get "why can't we all just get along we're all human beings" tattooed on your forehead? I think you need to stop.
DanielleSK said...
Jul. 5, 2013 at 2:26 pm
I completely agree with you! It's really shameful that we can no longer express ourselves through our clothing or interests without being judged. I mean, how many of us can say that we haven't been labeled for dressing a certain way? I certainly can't. I've gotten 'hipster' far too many times. Overall, great article!
SpringRayyn said...
Dec. 10, 2010 at 11:15 pm
It seems like, to me, the only reason people created labels is so that things can make sense to them. Why is that girl always studying? She's a nerd. Why is that guy always wearing black? He's emo. Some people can take their labels and be proud of them, others can't. I know that I myself probably have a label, and I hope it's the quiet artsy girl, but I don't label people. I don't need things to make sense. The only reason I would want to be a quiet artsy girl is that is who I am. But so what if... (more »)
KatsK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 3, 2012 at 9:38 am
I totally agree-- I'd probably be labeled as such. At my school we don't really have a lot of labels. And yes, people naturally put similar things into categories and that's what our labels come from. Good job, and could you if possible check out some of my work? Thanks :)
magic-esi This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 20, 2010 at 9:32 am
Your article is very good and it is well written. I like your sentence structure and your metaphor to a can of soup- pretty creative. As well as your ability to strongly distinguish your point of view. I don't like labels either. Really good article!
AlwaysWrite28 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 2, 2010 at 9:17 am
You certainly do not have to follow what everyone else does!!!!! NON_CONFORMISTS RULE THE WORLD!!!!!! WOOT WOOT!!!!!!!
alayapoetgirl said...
Feb. 3, 2010 at 4:06 pm
I adore this article! You were really able to establish your feelings in an intellectual manner.
Wow! You are good...not to mention the topic.
You totally inspire me through your words. There wasn't one time when I was reading this, where I got bored and wanted to read some other article.
TALENT in the house!!! (=
jigjoo This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 15, 2009 at 9:25 pm
I concur. Congratulations on getting your first Teenink article approved.
Therealshaq said...
Sept. 21, 2009 at 8:48 pm
Well first of all schwwwww
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