Social stigma is everywhere. Who can afford what, who looks like what, what your job is, people who work or are unemployed, whether you went to University or not (or which). We like to judge.
My Mum was talking at the weekend, about someone she knew who has a thing for fake handbags. Now, a brand names comes as a mark of quality not a label to be faked.
You can look at this one of two ways: there are those who want to be seen as possessing something expensive and desirable. But I see them as people who lack in self-confidence, and by assuming they are judged by others, they are in fact judging themselves the most.
Why are they disapproving of themselves, what makes them not feel valuable enough, that they don't have enough prestige and that a fake watch will make it all better?
And what kind of magic watch fixes that!? Of course, if questioned they will just tell you that they like the design.
What does this say about their personality? Does it highlight a certain vulnerability, a need to fit in and cave to 'social pressure' that doesn't actually exist, to inflate themselves to be what they wish they could be? And of course I'm judging because I'm writing about being judged.
I wear brand names, sure, but you can never tell, they're not emblazed everywhere. They're in the labels of my shoes, the tags in my clothes (even the scratchy ones), for me to know I have purchased goods of quality, made from beautiful fabrics and that they're going to last me a while.
It exists not just through brands, but through style, a key part of our personal expression. You can be assumed slutty, a complete square, a stoner or on the other hand, cooler than Sweet Brown's cold pop.
Social stigma exists around health too, sadly. Certain illnesses are assumed to be suffered by the poor, certain ethnicities or those who are a bit shower-shy. We migraineurs suffer stigma too, a whole lot of it.
First of all, a migraine is not a headache. Did you know some kinds of migraine exist without head pain at all? That's assumption numero uno.
Ware misunderstood in plenty of other ways too: we're fussy, we are awkward, and of course we put up with our symptoms without helping ourselves.
It's a joke, a completely blasé condition, not a serious one (let me tell you I know of several suicides due to chronic migraine) - suicide has a whole stigma of its own.
Migraine - and suicide, mental disorders - for people who 'just need to get over it', or 'overthink'. For the record, migraine is not a mental disorder but it's a serious neurological condition, it's just how the sentence worked out.
Employers don't understand migraine, or want to understand it. Colleagues don't understand how serious it is or how things they consider trivial can trigger a spiral that could see me in hospital - and has.
And we're weak, hormonal women - migraines are mostly suffered by women but 1 in 10 sufferers are male. And they experience a whole new level of stigma as migraine is seen as a feminine condition. Add that to , 'it's not an important illness' - oh yes, I've had it all.
If someone has cancer you don't really say 'have you tried this?' but somehow people feel free reign to tell every migraineur they ever meet about migraine smoothies and the rest. When I mention I have botox I always feel the need to say 'medical botox' so I am not judged for having cosmetic procedures, or the fact that I need them.
And then the 'have you tried xyz?' continues - from people who have never had them!
No, I have just suffered unnecessarily for the past 2 years, never thought about seeing 4 doctors about it.
Nobody ever said that to me when I had a broken foot, the flu or a tropical disease!
In 'Thinking Aloud, Social Stigma and Migraine', Laurie Taylor discusses how migraine became a 'womens' illness' and the historical journey of stigma.
Listen to 'Thinking Aloud, Social Stigma and Migraine' from the BBC today - migraine is mentioned from about 14 minutes by clicking here.