James Parr is Urban List’s guest writer. James is a proud triathlete, model, actor, disability advocate, Wiradjuri man and lululemon’s newest Ambassador. He shares lived experiences to champion inclusion and representation in media and fashion. Here, in partnership with lululemon, he unpacks how to dismantle stereotypes this year and beyond.
In society, we generally use labels to describe or define ourselves. Although, do labels speak to the infinite self that lives within all of us?
The majority of the labels or terms that we use generally have expectations on how we should be or what we should be doing. Labels are great in the sense of being able to use them in explaining who or what you are, but it can be important to know that label stereotypes do not apply to everyone, and every individual is different. Even though sometimes those expectations are projected by ourselves.
As someone who is Aboriginal, disabled, and queer; I have always struggled with using labels on myself as I have felt that even though these labels make up who I am—they still don’t define or make up the person that I am.
Personally, I am someone who appreciates labels, although I do not particularly like labels or conforming to the stereotypes that are attached to them. I feel restricted by labels and in doing so, I like to challenge them and rewrite my own rules of what that means for myself
Having the courage to challenge stigmas or stereotypes associated with those labels comes from within and drawing on my own personal experiences. I believe that labels or different parts of my identity, do make up who I am but don’t showcase who I am as an individual.
When I first acquired my disability and identified as being disabled, there was such a negative and sad connotation that was instantly attached to me as a result. I never felt that way and I never aligned with being sad or having a negative life. It was almost devaluing me, and people were putting me into a box with a whole new perception that was not true. I was still me and nothing had changed within or how I looked at my life. Yet, they were still forced on me.
When I had come out as bisexual and a proud member of the queer community, the reason I had taken so long to identify as that was because of the stereotypes and judgements attached to that. I just wanted to be an individual with no expectations of who I was, what I should be doing or who I should be. I had to unlearn what they meant to then relearn what they meant to be and to me as an individual to be proud and present with who I was. I think that that was an important thing for me, so I felt comfortable within myself.
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