On The Fear of Boxes: International Label Day 2013

I am not a fan of labels. Labels, to me, are what you affix to a box after you have stuffed something inside of it and sealed it shut. And I have a slight to moderate case of Pygmachophobia, that is, “fear of boxes or of being sealed in a box.”

In a metaphorical sense, I am the polar opposite of Maru the Cat, whose affinity for stuffing himself into boxes has made him, and his owners, internet famous. If anyone tries to stuff me into a box – or, ahem, a mould – my immediate reflexive response is to bust out. Expect me to stay in said box long enough for someone to affix a label to it? Do you like the taste of label glue in your face?

Maru the Cat loves boxes
Maru the Cat loves boxes

So, when I saw this business about November 21st being “International Label Day,” invented by the Blogosphere’s very own Rarasaur, my initial reaction was to scoff at it.  I have received many labels over the years that have contributed to my distaste for the boxes they represent:

Nerd. Geek. Goody-Goody. Freak. Four-Eyes. Shy. Tomboy. The Girl. Blonde. White. Religious. Divorce Child. Ex-Band-Girlfriend. American (I’m not one). The Foreigner. そのひと (that person).

To name just a few.

Yeah, I’ve heard it all before. Not impressed.

But one of the things I love about Rarasaur is her ability to redeem anything with a bit of creativity and love. Where I see labels as a source of anxiety, of limitations, of emotional baggage, as something to be proven wrong, she sees an opportunity to celebrate.

You say you hate boxes, but... look at what you're missing out on!
You say you hate boxes, but… look at what you’re missing out on!

So, in the spirit of #rawrlove and Maru the Cat, here are a few of the labels I guess I don’t mind that much:

Wanderer. Traveller. Adventurer. Gamer. Snowboarder. Motorcyclist. Teacher. Sensei. Leader. Sempai. Creative. Good Student. Writer. Editor. Thinker. Christian. Canadian. Girl. Woman. Lady. Daughter. Step-daughter. Granddaughter. Niece. Sister. Cousin. Wife. Friend. Best friend.  Neighbour. Winter Person. Duck Enthusiast. Genki Duck.

So many boxes! So much awesomeness!
So many boxes! So much awesomeness!

On second thought, Maru never lets anyone force him into boxes. He jumps in freely, sometimes makes himself comfortable, busts out when he feels like it, and seems to have the time of his life. Maybe some boxes aren’t that bad after all.

If you don't like a box, you can always just jump out of it!
If you don’t like a box, you can always just jump out of it!
...or break it. Even if you like it, you can still break it. Just for fun.
…or break it. Even if you like it, you can still break it. Just for fun.
And if anyone wants to make fun of you for being in a box...
And if anyone wants to make fun of you for being in a box…
...just remember what you are on the inside. No one can mess with that.
…just remember what you are on the inside. No one can mess with that.

Happy International Label Day! What labels do you resist, or embrace? Are you comfortable in boxes, or terrified of them, or maybe both at the same time?

Related Links:

International Label Day (Original) – Rarasaur

International Label Day 2013 – Rarasaur

Maru The Cat’s “I Am Maru” – YouTube

About Maru The Cat – Know Your Meme

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8 thoughts on “On The Fear of Boxes: International Label Day 2013

  1. Wandered over here from Rara’s.

    My wife and my daughter will respond VERY proudly to “geek” and “tomboy”. My daughter has very pretty blonde hair, but both the ladies of the family know very well that it was the men (my son and I) that are the born blondies. No joke.

    I think labels in and of themselves are inherently neutral, and that they gain their power and sense of meaning in how they are applied. I know that’s precious little comfort, however, when you are not the one that applied the label, and it’s difficult to reclaim it against any negative sentiment.

    1. Welcome! I think I have grown to be proud of some of the labels that were originally negative (such as “nerd,”) but they sure can be difficult to reclaim. Labels, as words, do appear to be inherently neutral, but like any words they become symbols imbued with meaning, positive or negative or sometimes both… In elementary school, for example, it was kind of cool to be a tomboy, but by high school it was kind of weird. Then I discovered, in the Philippines, awkwardly and by accident, that “Tomboy” was basically a direct equivalent to “Lesbian,” and so the word held a very different meaning there. Anyways, your family sounds like fun! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  2. My two, the two from the blog of Mr Midnight and Sir Winston, love the photos of their brothers and sisters in boxes. A box is a great place to investigate – it´s got four side walls, a floor and sometimes a lid. Great! 🙂 Best regards

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