I do not always notice social cues, like the subtle shadings of language. I do not know how long it took me to notice an important change in the use of language that will have effects on the way we judge ourselves. We are not fat. We have obesity. We are not addicts. We have an addiction. These conditions are not what we are, but what we have. Funny, in AA it’s almost a requirement that we stand up and declare we are alcoholics. Now there’s a cultural shift away from identifying the person as entirely consumed by, and composed of, a negative identity. Indeed, we are not declaring these states as precisely that, states of being that we experience rather than what and who we are. By the way, we are not alcoholics but people with alcohol use disorder. Now that I write this text I am reminded of other labels meant to confer an identity that have changed. From Crack baby to a baby exposed to substances in utero. People are not AIDS patients or victims, but people with AIDS. Finally, people are not homeless but are experiencing homelessness.
These changes make sense. I can go through an experience and come out on the other side. Or, if I am in a situation that’s unlikely to change, like having an addiction, I can remember that I am more than the addiction. The whole point of my blog is to show that although I graduated from Harvard, I am more than a Harvard graduate. I have multiple identities, some apparently in conflict, like going from Harvard to Handcuffs. You’ve got to know my story to know all of me. I admit to being surprised to discover that I am not a woman but someone designated female at birth, but I will get used to change, even if the new description is relatively cumbersome, lol. All in all, this change in language from condemning to informing, is one I support.