Yesterday, I got out of work early, and was convinced to go to a karaoke bar in Adams Morgan. While waiting to pay for a drink, a woman commented on my bag – a black cloth tote with a beaded gold elephant.
“That is an awesome bag you have! You are so trendy! Did you know that elephants are auspicious?” random lady stranger said.
“Oh thank you. And really? That’s good to know.” I replied. What I thought was, yes, I know that and I have an elephant tattoo, but I don’t particularly want to discuss that. Then, as we nodded good bye, I thought about what this random stranger must see me as, a young twenty-something girl, with a “trendy” style and a fan of singing.
Pretty much, I was questioning the social practice of identification. How do you identify yourself? How do others identify you? People categorize other people all the time. Have you ever people watched at a café? Checked out someone while in line? Overheard a conversation on the elevator? In order to make sense of those situations, we make quick inventories of the people we are observing and identify them accordingly. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of that, but its important to be aware what our automatic categorization could be doing to propagate stifling or marginalizing mechanisms, or awesome and empowering ones!
First, let me introduce myself. (And another awesome post about labels and identity).