Only you can alter your image, students told

By Aysha Edmonds - Staff Reporters

People should not allow labels to define who they are, a lawyer and Highline communications professor told last week's Honor Speakers audience.

Lisa Voso took on the role of a life coach in her presentation as she unpacked the idea of "Who am I?" 

She had students write down terms that they identify with, which she called labels. 

She said that the emotion people get from their labels affects their self esteem, and that's why some people are hesitant to write down their labels.

No label is necessarily good or bad, Voso said. But more important is, how you feel about the label.

"Emotion is driving the train, not the label," she said.

One's identity is fluid, always changing. You won't be the same person you are now 15 years from now, Voso said.

"Our identity is like a waterfall," she said.

"So why is it that we are sticking people in boxes?" she asked.

Voso proceded to unpack a label. 

For example the label "gamer" comes with the attributes of being a problem solver, coordinated and a multi-tasker. These are good attributes that have a good emotional attachment to them, she said. But they don't always convey a good emotional attribution. 

A gamer, could also infer images of being a nerd. It just depends on how people see it, Voso said. 

"If you didn't notice, I'm your five-fingered speaker," she said.

Voso was born with no fingers on one of her hands and her grandmother, unknowingly, saddled her with the label "ugly" because of it. It didn't help much that her family is generally short and stubby — attributes not generally associated with beauty.

So, from a young age Voso sought confirmation in the label "ugly." 

People around Voso were silent when she asked them if she was ugly. Sometimes silence is a confirmation of a label, she said.

Voso concluded her presentation with having a student come up to the front of the room to try and flip the sign, or label she was wearing from "ugly" to "attractive." 

Voso wouldn't allow the sign to be flipped — a metaphor of how the confirmation of labels throughout life imbeds an emotional feeling which cannot be changed by someone else.

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