Why Do We Label Ourselves?

I wrote a post a while ago called I Am More Than Just A Mom.

Because I am.

Why does everyone need a label?

I read a hilarious post on the You Have To Laugh website (of which I have personally contributed a few posts – Note: Sense of Humour Required). It was a post by dad blogger Paul who blogs over at Babysitting the Kids. The post was aptly entitled ‘Apocalypse Now’.

He humorously writes about the inevitable pitfalls of being a parent blogger, should you actually be brave (or insane) enough to have an opinion on anything! Literally anything parent related. Whatever it is, you will most likely be ‘taken out’ for whatever opinion you have because inevitably it differs from that of others. True Story!

This is an excerpt of one of my favourite parts of the whole article:

Piercings and Snips
An discussion complicated, rightly or wrongly, by these practices being ingrained in certain cultures. Circumcision is traditional in Jewish and some Muslim communities for example, to symbolise faith in God, and piercings are ritually administered to the children of Chavs. It’s a braver man than me that would take this topic on, and I’m not keen on getting glassed. Next.

If you have a sense of humour, can be objective, open-minded and an adult, you need to read the full post! It’s brilliant!

At the risk of being judged …

I have been pondering recently what all the blady fuss is about. Seriously! Let’s think about some of the labels and tags we as parents give ourselves to wear like some kind of identification badge of honour, or maybe it’s a suit of armour:

  • baby led weaning parent
  • breast feeder
  • formula feeder
  • natural birth
  • c-section
  • stay at home mom
  • working mom
  • work from home mom
  • cloth diapers
  • co-sleepers
  • cry it out
  • homeschooler

These are literally the tip of the iceberg! TIP!! There are millions more!

But Why?

My point here is, why do we feel the need to align ourselves with a certain camp, and once we do, *gasp … whisper* are we allowed to defect?

When I was naive and pregnant with my first child, back when I knew it all, I was determined to do cloth nappies as much as possible, with disposables only to be used when we were going out. After the first 48 hours at home and trying to fit a wriggling newborn into an ill-fitting cloth nappy that did NOT fit, I abandoned all attempts to be environmentally guilty and economically aware and switched to disposables all the way. I never looked back. *Cue trolls and tree huggers accusing me of single handedly destroying the planet!*

Yes, I felt like a failure, but as a new mother there were so many other failures happening at the same time it kind of became a nonentity. Paul has  a similar story in his post too, so thank goodness I no longer feel alone in the world!

So I ask you, if you preach about being in a certain camp, claim that identity, and then realise you may have been an idiot, are you allowed to switch camps?

Also, are you allowed to be in two ethically conflicting camps? I mean, do co-sleepers, cloth nappy users and baby led-weaning parents have to clique together? Are co-sleepers also allowed to be *gasp* … formula feeders?

Familial Labels

There are even labels that people use to define their family and their role in the family, and most of these aren’t new!

If I were to embrace just a few of the labels I could own, I would be *deep breath*:

A happily married wife, a mother, a step-mother, a daughter, a stepdaughter and a daughter-in-law, a sister, a half-sister, a stepsister and a sister-in-law. I am also a white African, SAHM, Christian, private schooling parent, spoilt and slightly bitchy, opinionated, a mommy blogger, and last but not least, a wine drinking lazy queen.


So does that make mine a “blended family”? I think so. I’m not sure. No? I’ve just about lost track so I’m really just assuming.

Why Do We Do It?

Personally I find the labels we use to define ourselves are used to benefit other people, more than ourselves. This is done in an effort to clarify to them the dynamic of a certain situation, or our personal belief or choices, without having to explain ourselves.

When my step-daughter visits and we are introduced as a family, you can see the whirring going on in their heads when they look at this beautiful 14-year-old girl, then they look at me (mid 30s), then look at the two little ones (4 & 6). You can actually see the pained expression whilst they try to do the math. Personally, I don’t jump in and clarify the situation for them because to me it doesn’t matter and quite frankly, it’s none of their business. It’s only when she starts talking (with her Yorkshire accent) that you can see the ‘click’ happen for them. It’s like a light goes off in their head that they have “worked it out”. Yay for you! You may now pigeonhole us into whatever category you want to label us as. Really, whatever helps you sleep at night.

Do we really need to use all these labels?

Do we?

Can’t we just be a family? A Child? A Parent? A woman?

Sometimes I think people give themselves various labels as a way of avoiding situations where they might have to explain themselves, you know, to help other people feel better!

Them:  “My children are homeschooled.”

Me:  “Oookay … so is that your response to avoid having to offer more of an opinion?”

Okay, I’ve never actually said that … but I think I’d like to. Maybe. lol

I am also more than just a bunch of labels and tags strung together. Labels don’t define me and I am not defined by my labels either.

Jane Austen Quote It Isnt what we say or think that defines us

I like to believe that, with wisdom and maturity we will all realise that the labels we are given, or that we give ourselves, don’t mean that we aren’t more than that. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t allowed to change our minds and shrug off those labels, or swap them for a the other one … Kidding!

How would you feel if you were stripped of your labels? Exposed? Maybe free?

So, what are your labels? Comment below!

A Blogging Good Time




  1. I don’t litter and I enjoy recycling, but this quote resonates with me: ” I abandoned all attempts to be environmentally guilty and economically aware and switched to disposables all the way, and never looked back.” Seriously, I went the easy peasy way – don’t even like the thought of washing poo nappies. I did that as a child with my younger cousins. Ewwww
    Good post – I’m also a stepmom (of a 20-something year old) and I’m 30 this year.

    1. Thank you. Don’t forget to send me your husband’s stories if you are still keen … x

  2. Labels can be so confining! I am definitely guilty of giving myself labels and it would feel freeing to let some of them go. Sometimes our situations change and we need to do what is best for our family, not what our “label” forces us to do. Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed this post! 🙂

  3. I think in some circumstances putting a label on something can pigeon hole you and some might even use it to their advantage and then have a ready made excuse to use their label as their reason for being bad. I personally think labels can be a problem as they go hand in hand with stereotypes! But being labelled a mum and a wife is the best label I could ask for! #ablogginggoodtime

  4. Labels oh wow this is a difficult one as a parent of a child with a huge label, I found it really hard to accept that label and still do. I want my son to be know for who he is and not for a label. He is not the autistic boy he is Oscar. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime ?

  5. I think as a society we seem to thrive on labels, when they mean nothing. We do it to everything as some kind of ‘understanding’ to why something is the way it is. Some days I’m a shouty mum, other days I’m not, I breast fed but then switched to bottle, my children had freshly cooked food and jars, they were spoon fed and fed themselves. Does it change anything. No. Not a thing. So what label am I?
    Great post! #Blogstravaganza

  6. Woman, fiance, mother and daughter. They’re the only labels I’m interested in owning. The rest are superfluous and so incredibly fickle to contemplate. I bottle fed my eldest, now I’m BF my youngest. I put my eldest in his cot from day 1 and now I co sleep with my youngest. It’s all fluff really isn’t it? #ablogginggoodtime and #blogstravaganza
    Ps. Loved the apocalypse now post too… was hooting with laughter at it!

  7. Ahh I know what you mean. Although I love being a mum, I dislike being labelled as just so. Like when people refer to me as ‘C’s Mummy’, rather than my name (and not even in front of my child). I’ve been many of the things you mention, and of course moved on when they didn’t work (like co-sleeping – great with newborns, even though it’s considered wrong and dangerous – but not so great when their limbs take on a life of their own and you find yourself sharing a bed with a windmill. What can I say, I value my sleeping space).
    These labels do define us, although sometimes it can be good to help position yourself in a certain situation.
    Loved your ‘labels’, they made me smile ?
    Great post.

  8. Family, child, parent, and woman are labels too. Some labels are used in a derogatory way and that’s sad but other labels allow us to share a part of ourselves or our lives with other people. The complete elimination of labels would mean that we can never talk about ourselves or our lives. Some labels we can be proud of and I chose to embrace those. Thanks for joining #Blogstravaganza. Hope to see you again.

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  11. Ah, another fab read Carly! I guess most of us don’t want to conform to ‘labels’ but do so because it is an unsaid norm in society… or because we feel more comfortable being a part of a majority, perhaps? I do it too sometimes – half-heartedly – and then think: But I’m not!!! I guess since becoming a mum, it’s become more evident – first a SAHM, then since I’ve started blogging a WAHM, a bottle-feeding mum, a co-sleeping mum, a this-mum, a that-mum… it never ends does it?! Fab post…

  12. I can’t believe you even tried cloth nappies?!! 🙂 If you were to label me, I think I might be the opposite to an ‘Earth mother’ – breastfeeding was a disaster, I hated baby wearing, I only co-sleep when I REALLY have to and I use wet wipes by the truckload. I do actually do babyled weaning though. Oh no my labels are clashing!! Great post as always! #ItsOK

  13. Ugh! Labels are ridiculous. I’ve never noticed it more than when I started posting on Instagram – you only get 30 hashtags and yet I could keep on adding on labels for all these little excerpts of my life which could apply, depending on other people’s point of view! Pigeonholing has become part of how everyone makes sense of the world. Bonkers! #ItsOK xxx

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