Personal Column: The weight of our words

Kennedy+Stidham%2C+Editor-In-Chief

Kennedy Stidham, Editor-In-Chief

Kennedy Stidham, managing editor
Kennedy Stidham, managing editor

In this 21st century world, the meaning of words change as often as the weather. People are so busy trying to start or follow a trend that they often forget the weight of their words and the harm they bring others. What are they saying when they call someone a “retard” or a “fag”? And is that what they really mean?

It’s easy to brush off what is said until the jokes are made at the expense of our own feelings. No one knows this better than me. I’m labeled as an idiot every time my friends make a dumb blonde joke. I used to laugh along, acting as though it didn’t bother me. But I felt cursed. I should’ve thought of my sandy hair as a badge of honor. It’s beautiful. Instead, because of others’ stereotypes, it only brought me shame.

People also throw around the word “bastard” when they’re angry. It’s been transformed into a word with an equivalent meaning of the other explicit B word, but if you go back in time, the term was used to describe a child who was born to unmarried parents (aka me). I was always embarrassed that my parents had me outside of marriage, so my emotions would bubble over when someone used the term negatively, implying that there is something wrong with me.

I know they aren’t intended to be, but words like these are hurtful. Hurtful to the point that I dreamed of dying my hair brown; I lied that my parents were married but got divorced.

I don’t know when I stopped wishing to be this version of me and started sticking up for myself when I was being unconsciously made fun of. But one day it hit me: I don’t get a choice in my hair color or the relationship status of my parents, no more than a person can choose their sexual orientation or whether or not they are born mentally disabled. And therefore, these things cannot define us, as better or worse… as a joke.