Labels – we live in a world where everything and everyone is labelled; ‘geeks’, ’emos’, ‘popular’, ‘sporty’, ‘gamers’. Another one to add to the list is ‘weirdos’. It seems like, in today’s society, it isn’t okay just to like what you like and do what you want, especially when it comes to music.
But has it recently become fashionable to not fit in? Do people dress in a certain style, whether that comes in the form of band t-shirts, piercings and tattoos or mini-skirts and crop tops, just to get noticed – even if that means people think they’re the weird ones? Or is there a way we can all just feel comfortable enough to not care what people think?
Everyone has a story to tell – and some feel that they can share this through music, hopefully without judgement from those who might like something different. We all like different food – it doesn’t make someone a weirdo because they are the only one in the room who doesn’t like lettuce! Or could it mean that everyone else in the room who does like lettuce are, in fact, the weird ones? Well, no. Although, to be honest, if you’re in a room full of people and everyone is just stood around looking at who is and who isn’t eating lettuce, that makes everyone there just a tiny bit unusual…
I’ve been told many times I am “the weird kid”; my friends and I were made to feel like a real minority at school because we liked alternative music and went to rock shows. I even remember one particularly unfortunate non-uniform day when someone felt it was completely acceptable to approach me and ask if they could check my wrists to see if I self-harmed just because I was all in black clothing. Never until that moment did I realise that I was classed as the weird kid. All I remember thinking is that I had never heard such nonsense…
I’ve never really been one for labels, but after this incident I felt like I had to fit in with the popular kids – the ones who apparently did the right things and looked the right way to make them count as “normal” – so I tried to change myself for a little while. But thankfully, I slowly realised how stupid I was being – I was changing how I looked and what I liked because of one stupid comment and what people I don’t even care about might think of me. It didn’t take me long to realise that you shouldn’t have to change yourself for people to accept you for who you are.
Some people think that to grow up as a “weird kid” means you must’ve been bullied or had a rough ride, and even the alternative scene – where we’re led to believe the misfits are welcome – sometimes take this idea to heart. This isn’t true. This is wrong. We can’t single out people based on what they’ve gone through and what we think qualifies them to be “weird” or “normal”. Music is music, no matter what genre it is, who wrote it, what instruments are used and who listens to it. I am who I am and if that means I am the weird kid in some people’s eyes, then I really don’t care. No-one should be made to feel like they’re a “weirdo” because they like alternative music – and no one should feel like they have to be weird to like alternative music either!
– Words by Katie Ripley