Joy in the Moment 

What’s in a Label?

By Joy Pape, FNP CDCES

There are several definitions of labels. A label can be a noun or a verb. A noun would be a word or phrase that describes a person, group, or thing. A verb would mean to affix a label to, to make with a label, or describe by a label.

Labels can be and are often loaded with assumptions, opinions and judgements.

Do you purchase a certain something because of its label or brand? Or, do you avoid purchasing something because of its label or brand?

More important, do you walk by people and label them just by their appearance or even by something you think you know about them? Do you label someone due to your past experiences? 

Putting a label on something or someone can separate and divide us.

In the medical field, we are working on not labeling people. Some of us will not use a person’s diagnosis as an adjective to define who a person is. For example, instead of saying someone is a diabetic, we are learning to say and think of that person as someone who has diabetes. Being a “diabetic” labels that person, as if having diabetes is who and what they are. There’s a lot more to the person than just having diabetes or any other condition.

Think about your relationship with labels and how it affects your relationships.  Getting rid of labeling others may help you have new and richer relationships which can bring you joy in the moment.

Joy Pape, FNP-C, CDCES, CFCN is a board-certified family nurse practitioner, Certified Diabetes Educator and Specialist in Weight Management & Obesity at Weill Cornell’s Comprehensive Weight Control Center.