By Melissa Hughes - For Weekender

Girl Talk: Embrace your inner weirdo: Be a first rate version of yourself

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Melissa Hughes

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    Whether we want to admit it or not, life is all about labels. Boyfriend, Burberry, Bully and Bulletproof are just a few of these examples. Why do we stress so much about compartmentalizing every facet of our lives? Does our label really matter? And what about the labels given to us by others? Do we lay down and take it, get hurt or own it when someone labels us something that we disagree with?

    Last week, the VMAs rocked MTV and local tattoo guru and feminist pioneer Ryan Ashley Malarkey owned the red carpet in a fierce custom made pink latex gown that showcased her gorgeous tattoo collection and accentuated every curve of her perfect figure. The next day, it was announced that she and fellow Ink Master Angel co-stars Kelly Doty and Nikki Simpson were chosen to be on the worst dressed list.

    In true Ryan fashion, she took the title and owned it. As a self-labeled weirdo and co-owner of the Strange and Unusual Oddities Parlor, Ryan proudly stood up and accepted the worst dressed label as an honor. She, with all the grace and dignity of the starlet that she is, posted the next day to her Instagram that as a child she always leaned more towards the fashion on the worst dressed list as opposed to the best dressed list because it showed people being brave enough to take chances and show off their personality. Ryan encouraged her followers to embrace their inner weirdos and be proud of who they are.

    So often in life we let the labels assigned to us by others define and hurt us. More times than I care to admit, I have tried changing the person I am to please others and fit in their molds of who I should be. Instead of embracing my own labels and being custom made, I was desperately trying to be a knock-off street version of someone else.

    I spent a great deal of my twenties trying to be Gucci and ending up just Cucci. I have started thinking about my labels: writer, mother, girlfriend, coach, friend, daughter, weirdo, old soul. None of these seemed too bad. I like the person who I am, but it wasn’t always that way.

    Working in media, I have been called many things: loser, fatty, untalented, classless, slut, and the list goes on. The bullies, trolls and haters can really get a girl down. There was a point in my career where I let them in. My esteem was so low because I stupidly valued their opinions of me over my own. Who knew me better, me or some faceless screen name on the internet? I found inspiration in Ryan’s ability to drown them all out.

    In the film “8-Mile,” Eminem owned his labels and put his flaws out to the world so others couldn’t use them as a weapon against him. Ryan does this and spins the insults into a compliment. You say weirdo like it is a bad thing when really, weirdo is synonymous with someone who owns their individuality and stands out in a crowd.

    Ryan, you are my favorite weirdo, and I admire you more than you’ll ever know. To those of you defining yourselves by other people’s opinions, I implore you to embrace your label and create your own brand. As quoted by Judy Garland, always be a first rate version of yourself instead of a second rate version of someone else.

    Melissa Hughes
    http://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/web1_girltalk-1.jpgMelissa Hughes

    By Melissa Hughes

    For Weekender

    Girl Talk began in 2012 as a telltale horror story of the city’s most epic dating disasters and has evolved into a column about love, life experiences and growing up. Melissa also has a weekly Girl Talk TV segment on PA Live and WBRE.

    Girl Talk began in 2012 as a telltale horror story of the city’s most epic dating disasters and has evolved into a column about love, life experiences and growing up. Melissa also has a weekly Girl Talk TV segment on PA Live and WBRE.