Brand Names and Labels

Can I ask a serious question? Why are a lot of people in this generation so obsessed with labels? Whether it is clothes, shoes, accessories, or even just people in general, I know so many people who are fascinated by labels. I don’t get it.

I find pleasure in not fitting in any one category. For example, in high school I played soccer and I cheered, which would make me a “jock.” However, I also made really good grades so I was a “nerd.” Neither is me. I am both smart and athletic. I could sit and do all my homework on the van ride, and then go cheer and be athletic. I also enjoy artistic things in my spare time, like painting or scrapbooking (I scrapbooked all four years of my high school for my open house and did them throughout each school year). There are very few stereotypes that I actually coincide with. While I do enjoy not fitting in a mold, it is also because my personality is so diverse.

Speaking of diverse, I love when people ask me what I like to listen to. I do not have one particular genre that I listen to. The music I listen to varies from Hamilton to Josh Turner to Five Finger Death Punch to Michael Jackson to Nat King Cole to Pentatonix to Beethoven. If I like the way it sounds, I listen to it. To me, it is that simple. I do not understand why people trap themselves in what they listen to. I understand if you do not like a specific genre (I’m not the biggest fan of dubstep, techno, or screamo); however, be open to new music. You may find something that you like, even if it is not the typical type of music you listen to.

A big thing that people of my generation like to obsess over is clothes. I think this is more common in girls, but some guys get this way too. People become so obsessed with having the latest clothing from Ugg, Jordan (or KD or any other famous basketball player that has his own line of shoes), Nike, Under Armour, Hollister/American Eagle/Aeropostale, or any other big named brand. I understand the familarity and comfort, but it’s a problem when it becomes obsessive. But I feel I can’t write this without being honest. I love Converse. My feet are shaped weirdly and they are one of the few shoes that I have found that do not hurt my feet after being in all day. I have worn athletic shoes for walking or running, and by the end of the day, I am practically screaming because my feet are in so much pain. So because of that, I have a lot of Converse. Eleven pairs, to be exact. However, most of them have been gifts, and I do my best to wear each pair. I have two pairs that are slightly too small, one by a half size and the other by a full size. Those are getting to wear they hurt my toes because they squish them. Honestly, those are my two oldest pairs and definitely look like it. At some point, I should get new ones and just throw them out. But I’m happy with the Converse I do have, and I’m not constantly wishing for more. My Converse count for at least a third of my shoe collection, and practically everything else is not a name brand. I wear my Converse to their breaking point, and I know they last well. I also have not received all eleven pairs in one year. I think I got my oldest ones four or five years ago, and the most recent pair I got were for my birthday, which was in September!

Since I am the younger sibling, I have a ton of hand-me-downs. Probably about half the clothes I wear (minus t-shirts) at one point belonged to my sister. That doesn’t bother me. She will give me clothes that don’t fit her or she just does not wear. If I like them, I can have them. But then I will take her clothes and pair them differently than she would. She even one time said to me, “I would never have thought of wearing those together.” Most of her/my clothes are not brand name, and that is okay. They are cute and durable, and I like them. I also often enjoy thrift shopping. I love going to Goodwill, Plato’s Closet, or any other secondhand store. While a lot of other people my age are more excited about [brand name] of clothing, I’m more into the deals I find (for example, I went to Plato’s Closet a couple weekends ago and found two shirts for $6. Woo-hoo!!!)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t understand the purpose of certain labels, especially ones that serve no purpose. Just because I don’t wear the most top-notch clothes does not make me any less of a person than anyone else (although to be fair, I probably am wearing Converse because, well, you know). Labeling yourself a certain way does not do anything for you; in fact, it may even close your mind to trying new things. It is better to be open-minded. I’m proud that I do not fit many labels people try to put on me, and I’m proud that my clothes are more practical than well-known. I like who I am: I like that I do not fit stereotypes. I like that I live in an Honors dorm but can talk to someone about almost every sport and understand what is going on. I like that I can spend time getting covered in either mud or paint and not feel any differently about either. I like every part of me, especially the parts that cannot be defined by a label.

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