I don’t like labels, of any variety. I peel them off water bottles and cut them off my sweaters. When I write, I turn my pen so I don’t see the imprinted brand; reading those words distracts me from the words I am trying to write. They irritate me in so many ways. In clothing they scratch the back of my neck or poke at my side. They advertise a company brand on something I bought and paid for. It is my opinion that if there should be any name on my possessions or clothing it should be, well, mine.
Sometimes it is the sizing label that is especially uncomfortable (in more ways than one). It’s usually made of thicker fabric with rough edges. Not only that, they can be confusing. No two manufacturers sizing charts are alike, so these labels are sending mixed messages to me in my most vulnerable state when I stand naked and alone searching for warmth and comfort from something hanging in my closet. When I am usually tired and still gathering my thoughts for the day.
My mind goes from what to make for breakfast, to trying to recall if I have errands to run later on and attempting to remember which child has what on their agenda that day. Are there ortho appointments or art classes scheduled, music practice or zumba? What day is it anyway? Remember, it’s early and I have not yet had my morning tea. Then there are those mocking little labels all various sizes ranging from single to double digits, with names and brands already infiltrating my head-space first thing in the morning. I can’t take it. It’s just too much for me. It is hard enough for me to remember to smile and say “Good morning!” to my loved ones that early in the day.
So often I skip the rows of possible clothing combinations and reach for my soft, warm, purple robe instead; the color of royalty, also said to be a spiritual color. Maybe it will help with the groggy, foggy morning brain. Then I head downstairs and put the kettle on. I reach into the canister where I keep the tea bags and pull one out for my small pot of tea. I don’t see the label on a box. I don’t need a cup of Brand X, I need a cup of tea; black tea, English breakfast tea, maybe some Earl Gray for a rainy gray day, or a cup of spiced chai. The best part of waking up is not (insert familiar brand name here) in my cup. Coffee maybe, café con leche when I can, flat white, mochaccino or frappuccino on occasion, but usually just plain old black tea. I like to drink it from my favorite mug, plain and simple, without illustration or decoration. Not from the half dozen mugs in constant rotation (one in/one out; our mug shelf minimalism is in a constant state of maintenance-mode decluttering) with words on them reminding me of the time we went to that popular vacation destination when the kids were younger, or the Christmas mug from the gift exchange that one year. I can’t take it. It’s too early. Less is more FTW again.
Nope, I don’t like labels. I’d rather eat green eggs and ham, Sam. After my morning tea and breakfast I sometimes grab a water bottle and quickly peel off the label before going to my office to start the day. Why do I do this? Well, it’s like a cereal box that’s left on the table during breakfast. If it’s sitting there it’s human nature I guess to read every little tiny detail about that box of flakes or puffs. I can’t seem to avoid it. So I don’t like wasting my limited mental capacity (and let’s be honest, there’s only so much going on up there in the first place) on a water bottle label. I’d rather read a novel, or the newspaper or an uplifting blog post.
Please note: Yes, I understand the reason for labeling products from a health and safety standpoint or a marketing and business perspective. And obviously there are safety issues, care instructions and ingredients to check. I get it. (So, dear sweet Readers, please don’t spam my inbox about this.)
Overall my reasons are many and varied as to why I personally dislike labels… I am a highly sensitive person… I am a minimalist… But among my top reasons must be that I think we are all just too bombarded on a daily, hourly, moment-to-moment basis, with images and ads everywhere for this brand or that, and it is all way too much for me. So I decided a while ago to do something about it. I am a realist and I knew that the world was not going to change for me, so I decided to change my world. I don’t like itchy, scratchy, annoying, confusing clothes labels. So I remove them when I remove the price tags as soon as they come home from the store. I sit down with each new item and remove the price tags, closely inspect each garment, clip loose threads, and remove any unnecessary labels. It’s a simple, conscious act of welcoming each new item into my home, closet, and wardrobe; especially since I recognize each new item is a replacement for an old faithful or favorite. I do this for almost all of my clothes. It is one small way I create a bit more peace and give myself a little more happy. It clears my mental palette and I like it.
These are simple changes I made for product labels I didn’t like on my clothing, belongings, or in my peaceful safe-haven, my home. But what about other labels? Like the way we casually brand other people. We often pick random adjectives like dandelion puffs and in so doing we may unintentionally spread division or hurt with each breath. Some of these words might be harmless, necessary or honestly descriptive (like the ingredient list on packaged foods), but sometimes these words are divisive or hurtful more than helpful. I believe in a Creator God who made each of us on purpose for a purpose. There are no mistakes. When He made people in His wonderful image He said what He made was “very good.”
Let’s peel off the labels that distract us from what’s inside- the part that really counts. It’s one small act of intention, and it might not change the entire world, but you never know, maybe it can help change your world, and make your little corner of this big blue ball a little kinder and gentler, softer and safer, and perhaps it will begin to look a bit more like a kingdom of kindness and bring a bit of heaven to earth all around you.
As for me, I will continue to eliminate useless labels, and try to remember that whatever I wear, I am always covered in royal robes of righteousness. Then, by the grace of God and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I can tell when looking at my life and in my closet what fits, what is comfortable, what suits me and ‘what not to wear’. And I am choosing to wear garments of grace, gratitude, and praise. In the book of Psalms in the Bible it says that God inhabits praise; it brings His presence… and in His presence is fullness of joy… and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom and healing.
“Friend”, “Family”, “Forgiven”, “Chosen”, “Worthy”, “Neighbor”, “Blessed”, “Beautiful”, “Free” and “Loved”.
Now these are all very good labels that display the love and grace of God.
As for the rest, let’s just cut it out!© Una-Melina // Worthy Books & Things, 2013.
I strongly agree with you that labels can be very dangerous if inappropriately used …as shorthand to judge people etc.
On the other hand, descriptive words, which is what labels are, help us navigate through life and find our way, so long as they are carefully chosen, helpful and accurate.
“Dangerous Substance” is a useful label for example. I know you mentioned the need for food labelling and it too is very important.
The titles of our blogs are lablels, our names are labels …so we need to keep the useful labels and avoid the damaging ones I think…..and be careful about knowing the difference.
Love everything about this! I too remove clothing labels (mostly for comfort, and what’s with those stupid shoulder strings?) and think people are more complex than the simple labels we assign them.
Hahaha! I know, right? Enough with the shoulder strings already- they can go too. 😉 Thanks for reading, Michele and taking the time to share your thoughts. Yes, “complex” is a good word, “fearfully and wonderfully made” also comes to mind.
nice to see you looking out label not at cost…
Thanks for stopping by!
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