Okay, there is something that has been weighing down on me. It’s the concept of labeling.
To start, I have never labeled myself as anything. There is a three word blurb on Discovery’s website, which I didn’t write. Discovery also told me to call myself a “survivalist” for the sound bite. *Correction: I have called myself a nudist. I was raised as a nudist, so that has been a label I have used and identified with since 1985.
I was raised as a nudist and have dealt with psoriasis on my knees and elbows since I was three years old. Being a nudist to me has always been difficult but freeing, in that it has allowed me to accept my body for what it is. I need to get sunlight to treat my psoriasis and have been getting UV therapy since I was seven years old. Being a nudist is not only freeing, but necessary so that my skin doesn’t break out with psoriasis. In the picture above, you can see it on my right elbow. I had a nice tan at the time and the UV kills the extra skin cells that are what psoriasis is, so my knees weren’t as bad as usual in that photo. (The dark smudge spots are from fire poi; I had just spun fire on a fallen tree over the Merced River with a friend). I spent the first half of my childhood in New York, where toplessness is legal; then I moved to Vermont, which is the only state in the country where full nudity is legal. I suppose I could ditch the “nudist” label and just say “I am me.” I don’t actually need that label for any reason. I don’t need to hide behind it (pun intended).
I have never labeled myself as a “feminist.” I suppose the reason why I have never labeled myself as such is because I grew up as a tomboy, playing sports and with just as many male friends as female friends. Going into my twenties, I actually had more male friends than female friends. I think part of this is because, like I said, I am a bit of a tomboy. I just am who I am. I blow snot rockets and pee outside. I also have a cutesy, girly side to me too, but you will probably never see it.
Many of the females I have known have been super catty and cliquey, and I have steered away from them. Often times, it is the cattier, cliquier people in this world who are perceived as successful or popular because they have the ability to wear the thickest masks. To bystanders, these kinds of people seem calm, calculated, and admirable. To the people they covertly prey on, the truth is much uglier. This goes for men and women. I see big red flags when I meet people like this. It’s the “nice to your face”/ “evil behind your back” thing; it’s extremely common among girls and unfortunately just as common among women and I have personally experienced enough of that kind of covert bullying to not want to be any girlier than I already am.
And let me be clear here: Womanhood/sisterhood will never thrive when the people who are pretending to promote womanhood/sisterhood are preying on other women to boost their brands/popularity/desirability/etc. That’s what is subverting women in today’s society. It’s not really the men (there are men who are doing terrible things, too); it’s women. Women are kicking each other when they are down because they have this fucked up biological mechanism that makes them hate other women for various reasons, often related to a dissociated sense of self esteem. They need to stop doing that.
So these are some of the reasons, on hindsight, why I don’t really identify as a typical “feminine” type of person—although if you are reading this, you may not get what I am saying due to the fact that I possess breasts and a mostly symmetrical face.
I have never dreamt of weddings and white picket fences. My toenails are usually black from walking barefoot in the dirt. I have never had a manicure or pedicure in my life. I once cut out an ingrown toenail with an X-acto knife and tweezers because I had a ski race the next day and I couldn’t cram my foot in the boot. I grew up listening to classic rock, jazz, blues, and opera—I never was into all the pop bands that were thriving back in the day. I kind of missed a lot of the typical “female” culture because I never fit into it. I played baseball until I was too old to play baseball and all there was was a “girls'” softball team. I grew up climbing buildings and trees. All of my climbing partners, and all but two of my hiking partners, have been men. By the way, those two select females were also not girly-girls. There is nothing wrong with being a girly-girl—I just don’t understand or identify with them.
But after being on Naked and Afraid, I’ve been consistently labeled as a “feminist.” By the root definition of the word, I do believe in equal rights for women—and I do believe that equal rights have not yet been achieved for women. Take the anti-abortion bill that just passed in Alabama, for instance. That is messed up. A woman should have the right to control her own body, and any man (or woman) who says differently is acting against the foundation of freedom and equality for all.
I have a bit of an issue with labels, at least how they pertain to society, because labels mean that other people will put their own meanings onto them and they become ambiguous or diluted over time. The same thing goes for religious labels—people alter or deliberately misconstrue their meanings over time, to suit their personal agendas. You can’t just label yourself something and hide behind the label because it grants you new license to act differently than you would without that label.
Or can you?
I don’t think that it is okay to hate men. Ironically, the only two Naked and Afraid locations that I’ve been to involved only me and men, so the public can only associate me with men. I don’t hate men at all. I actually tend to trust men more than women, and the reasons for that are complex (and in fact may seem misogynistic to some). Another example of why I have difficulty with the “feminist” label is because I’ve been serially plagiarized (in feminist terms, I’ve been “bropropriated”) by another cisgender female public figure (technically, academia would label them as a “microcelebrity” as they are an Instagram public figure) who identifies as a feminist—and subsequently constantly writes about man’s shortcomings. I don’t think it is okay to push blame onto groups of people like that. Calling out one person or institution for doing something that causes or caused harm is one thing, but perpetuating that mentality onto another label in itself is inherently wrong and only causes more confusion to people as a whole.
So post-Naked and Afraid, I have had quite a few woman-haters call me a “feminist,” when I myself have never called myself one. I find this incredibly ironic. If the nature of my existence, which includes brutal honesty, makes me a feminist, then so be it—however, I truly think that humanity needs to come to a place of seeing people as people. Not as labels. We deserve equality for all—all sentient beings. This especially includes impoverished people, homeless people, incarcerated people, and animals. Those groups of people don’t really have a voice in today’s society. They either are dismissed immediately, dehumanized, restricted from the right to vote, or can’t speak human language. Those are groups of people that I personally care more about defending these days.
That’s really all a person can do in this life. Anything else is coming from a place of fear or lack of love.
Everyone on this planet is capable of love. Everyone—even the people who have made mistakes. In fact, the people who have made mistakes are often given more tools to become loving individuals because the truth is that compassion can not be taught, but only learned through experience. We make mistakes, whether or not we were victims in making those mistakes, and we experience backlash and repercussions from them. We learn, we move on. To me, the best way to move on and heal from the past is to practice paying it forward. I have experienced some of the worst cyberbullying of anyone on the planet and I know what it is like to be censored, disbelieved, manipulated, and dehumanized.
On top of this, I have been serially and systematically ripped off by another person—a feminist—who gets applauded for ripping people off covertly (I am not the only person who has been plagiarized by them). It’s hard to explain the level of ripping off that I have endured from this other person without resetting the article to public—it would probably blow your mind. I might reset it to public later, but at the moment I am experimenting with practicing forgiveness and not giving them the free advertising on my blog space. But believe me when I say, being the most infamous (look up infamous, it’s not a nice word) person on one of the most cult-classic television shows of our time has led to quite a mountain of shit to climb through. And it has taught me a lot.
I want to help other marginalized people (including animals) regain their freedoms. It actually does make a difference when you know what other victims are going through instead of merely hypothesizing or assuming what they are going through.
That all being said, everyone has the ability to stand up for whatever and whomever they believe in. What I think is important is going to be different from what you think is important, on a socio-political level. However, all of these things—all of them—do fall under a larger umbrella of an issue that needs to be taken seriously by every single person on the planet. Right now, we are facing an existential crisis and that is called “Global Warming.” Any other and every other push for equality falls under that because we are facing an extinction scenario that involves everyone. It won’t matter what you identify with if the whole world goes extinct. All the Republicans/Liberals/Democrats/
are all going to be dealing with the same inhospitable planet together, and then—
I had a record number of people visit my page in the last two days, and I have no idea why. It has been almost half of a decade since I first filmed with Discovery Channel. Are you coming here to read my words because you saw me on a reality television show, and now you want to push a bunch of your projections onto me? Or are you genuinely interested in hearing what my experience was like and how Hollywood manipulates people and the media? Hollywood manipulation isn’t just a “man thing.” There were woman producers working on my Naked and Afraid episodes, too. For all I know, there were woman editors who inwardly hated me and tried to make me look as bad as possible (hey, it’s a possibility). I don’t know and I don’t care.
What I care about is being firm in who I am and what I stand for. I stand for equality and truth and justice. I can honestly say that I am proud of the person who I am and the trials and tribulations that I have been through, external and internal. I have failed at so many things; mostly, I have failed at living up to other people’s expectations of me. I have failed at living up to the labels that have been misplaced onto me by strangers who don’t know me. I am more than fine with that.
So let me clarify here: I don’t dislike men. I will call someone out for being dishonest, manipulative, or generally an asshole. Sometimes telling (or showing) the ugly truth is an act of love. I will extend that outspokenness to anyone it applies to. It doesn’t matter if they are man or woman, black or white. Call me what you want, but it doesn’t change who I am. It doesn’t make me a this or a that, it makes me Honora.
I am going to leave you with a list of common misconceptions due to labeling and stereotyping:
All poor people are lazy;
most crime is committed by people of color;
people only go on TV/reality shows because they enjoy drama or want attention;
famous people are all rich;
famous people are lucky;
rich people are happy;
rich people are successful because they earned their success through hard work;
economic worth equates to time and energy spent working to survive;
all women are soft or emotional; all men need to be strong;
all redheads are crazy;
all blondes are dumb;
brunettes are smarter than people of any other hair color;
confidence is vanity;
nudists are sexual;
TV is real;
reality TV is real;
social media is real;
all college students are wealthy or privileged;
having a college degree doesn’t matter;
wealth and power are indicators of virtue;
anyone in the U.S. can pull themselves up by their bootstraps;
liberal people are socialists;
socialists are communists;
liberal people are therefore communists;
all Christians are in denial about something;
all people on Reddit are dudes;
republicans are all rednecks;
republicans are all rich;
republicans are stupid;
democrats are soft;
your vote doesn’t matter;
you can’t change the world;
climate change is a hoax.
The above statements are all false. They are assumptions, judgements, and misconceptions that exist because of stereotyping and labeling. While they may be true to certain individuals, they are all untrue as blanket statements.
By the way, if you are here because you just watched Naked and Afraid: what is the meaning of the label, “survivalist?” Well, according to the Google dictionary, it means:
Try guessing how many people on survival reality television shows are actually spending their lives as practicing survivalists according to definition #1. More realistically, most of the world’s inhabitants are survivalists according to definition #2. Pretty much every marginalized person on the planet is a survivalist according to definition #2 (minus the paranoid/Armageddon analogy it gives). Aren’t we all trying to survive in some way or another?
P.S. If you really want to achieve an atmosphere of equality for all, there are two things that need to be looked at, in my opinion.
- Look at the other people who identify with the same labels that you identify with, if any. Fix issues within your own group/s. For instance, if you want women to be equal and you are a woman—stop supporting women who tear down other women, to start. Misogyny exists within all sexes, and asking men to fix a problem that is simultaneously being perpetuated by women is ludicrous.
- Look at the lawmakers involved in suppressing the rights and freedoms of people today. Ask yourself (and them, if you have the chance to) why they are doing so, and what you can do to either change their minds or vote them out of office.
One thought on “Why Labels Need to Go”
This cold morning I’m doing two things, eating a fried egg on sesame bagel and just read your article on “Labels” while Trout fishing on the San Miguel river . Your on point in my view I won’t even give our present POTUS a label. Here’s what I want to say to you. You are who I thought you are. Genuine!
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