I can teach my son that people who say mean things, intended or unintended, are feeling mean about themselves or have had too much meanness directed at them. They are people with a lot of hurt in their lives too; it's impossible to feel happy when you are hurting others.
If you must put a label on someone, tell them they have a tendency to be successful. Tell them that they will excel. Tell them that they are wonderful. Tell them that they are beautiful. Tell them that they shine.
The haphazard labeling of children has the potential of creating a parental lack of responsibility. It is much easier to blame some chemical imbalance for a child's behavior than engage in the excruciating hard work of proper parenting.
Although most of us routinely fall prey to those dated grocery store labels -- chucking entire jars of "expired" mayo for fear of poisoning our sandwich-eating kids, for example -- it turns out that those designations are actually pretty meaningless.
I tell them if they like princesses, choose the ones with admirable qualities. Choose the ones that empower them as little girls. None of this putting your life on hold until prince charming comes around.
"Inactive" means not active; ""incapable" means not capable; "inseparable" means not separable; and on and on the examples go. It doesn't make sense that "inflammable" means flammable. But we need to keep in mind that it's not always easy to translate one language accurately into another.
It didn't really matter what we called ourselves though, because everyone knew what the names really meant. Everyone knew they really meant top, middle or bottom. We all knew exactly what was being done. We were being labeled.
The tendency to classify and categorize objects is a deeply ingrained aspect of human nature. Without this ability, we'd quickly get overwhelmed in every new encounter, but this fundamental skill can also be extremely damaging, especially when it comes to categorizing people.
I think we can all agree that for some people, eating in America has become a way to define yourself. We have vegetarians and vegans, people who follow raw food diets, macrobiotic diets, Paleolithic diets, the list goes on and on.