When I found out I had Cerebral Palsy at the age of 46 and I had no idea what I had been dealing with for all those years. In that time, I had been labelled. People would stare at me in the street and being talked about as if I wasn’t there; but is it right being labelled, because of what we deal with?
If it was to happen now it wouldn’t bother me that someone may choose to label me because I have Cerebral Palsy, because I am comfortable with who I am. ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but calling names won’t harm me.’ My mum used to quote this famous saying at me, when anyone called me names. Back then I had no idea what the saying meant.
Whether I have Cerebral Palsy, it is what I deal with, that’s a fact. Why does a label stick when we deal with something like Cerebral Palsy? Whether we’re gay, straight, black or white, we’re labelled for being all of those things. I certainly don’t think the problem lies with the individual. The problem lies with society and how society as a whole define and sees us as individuals.
When we label someone, we stereotype that person and that helps us make sense of how we see the world. It also helps us recognise that person so that when others talk about them, we know exactly who they’re talking about and that’s wrong.
For example, someone may refer to somebody who is overweight and will describe that person as being fat, instead of trying to describe him in a kinder more understanding manner. I remember being in school as a small child and having a friend who was overweight. When other children referred to her, they didn’t refer to her by name, but by describing her physically.
I personally choose not to label myself because I have Cerebral Palsy or anyone else. It would be great if society as a whole were able to just accept and let people be who and what they are, without choosing to use labels to do it.