There was a lesson I got through my thick skull only within the last few years: People will readily and with zero hesitation decide who you are as a person without actually knowing much about you. It sucks for a variety of reasons, one of which is the fact that there are a number of things that have a bad reputation, but really shouldn't. We sometimes think we've got someone "figured out" just because we know that they dress goth, they eat gluten-free, or they don't believe in monogamy — when the reality is that what they say about making assumptions is true.
Sadly, we miss out on so many beautiful relationships that could be formed if only we looked past the labels and stereotypes. For example, younger, naive me would never associate with someone who smokes pot, because pot is a drug and drugs are bad and people who use drugs are bad people... but oh, what little I knew.
We've all been a victim of this habit at some point in our lives — and admittedly, we've all taken our turn being the perpetrator, too. We can all make the conscious effort, though, to look beyond the harmful labels.
Odds are you have people with these specific labels in your life. Have you judged them for it? Because it's really not a big deal.
1. Vegans And Vegetarians
I spent four years as a vegetarian and dabbled in veganism, and I can confirm that the jokes and insulting comments are nonstop. No, meatless eaters are not justified in shaming you for eating meat; the same goes for the reverse, too.
A personal favorite of mine was always, "You're a vegetarian? That SUCKS." It doesn't, really, but thanks anyway for criticizing my life choices. It's a personal decision; for me, it has many benefits. For instance, did you know that vegetarians save about 2,500 gallons of water for every pound of meat they don't eat? That's a big plus in my book.
We all need to get our heads out of the dirt about this.
2. "Tree Huggers"
People may tease a so-called "tree hugger" for refusing to use store-bought household cleaners because (fun fact: There is no federal regulation of the chemicals in these cleaning products). People may laugh when they pull out their reusable bags at the grocery store (even though plastic bags kill roughly 200 species of sea life per year). People may scoff when they stubbornly recycle every last bit of "trash" instead of throwing it out (since around 75 percent of our trash is recyclable, but we're only recycling 30 percent of it). But what people may be totally unaware of is the collective damage we're causing on this planet every second of every day; that tree hugger is just trying to do their part to mitigate it. What's so bad about that?
This list wouldn't be complete without this one. People continue to roll their eyes at the word "feminist." Feminism is simply another word for human rights — the notion that we all deserve equal rights; and yet, the idea of the stereotypical feminist — the man-hater who refuses to shave their legs or wear a bra — persist. Some of us are even hesitant to apply the label to ourselves for fear of being scorned. But hey, guess what? The stereotypes are just that: Stereotypes. There's nothing "bad" about wanting and fighting for all human beings to have the same rights.
Patchouli oil. Meditation. Burning sage. Do even just one of these three things and people might humorously refer to you as a smelly hippie. But A) this could be completely false, and B) why did we decide that any of this had to be a bad thing in the first place? Last time I checked, the hippie movement first started when people rejected war, promoted sexual freedom, and campaigned to save the environment. Sign me up!
5. "Trophy Wives"
Ah, yes. That woman with a wealthy husband, whom you hate because she doesn't have to work. She wears nice clothes, gets her hair and nails done, and serves as her husband's "arm candy." Except she's still a human being, and she made her own choices. Just like how you choose to work 60 hours a week and cut your own hair at home. One isn't any better or any worse than the other.
Right! Another type of wife we're all supposed to hate. You cook. You clean. You care for the kiddos. You make sure your partner has everything they need when they come home from a long day at work.
What a horrible person you are.
If a woman is happy doing all these things, where's the harm? I swear, women are damned either way. Get a job and leave the kids, and you're negligent. Be a stay-at-home mom (or dad) and take care of things, and you're submissive. Do we ever win? (Yes! When we realize that every person's lifestyle is their own choice. And as long as everyone is happy and no one is getting hurt, then there isn't a problem.)