Do Words Matter?

Here we are at Day 3 of Diabetes Blog Week! There is an old saying that states “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. I’m willing to bet we’ve all disagreed with this at some point, and especially when it comes to diabetes. Many advocate for the importance of using non-stigmatizing, inclusive and non-judgmental language when speaking about or to people with diabetes. For some, they don’t care, others care passionately. Where do you stand when it comes to “person with diabetes” versus “diabetic”, or “checking” blood sugar versus “testing”, or any of the tons of other examples? Let’s explore the power of words, but please remember to keep things respectful.

In our day to day lives, I don’t have strong feelings about words and phrases that people use when talking about diabetes. The terms “diabetic,” “testing,” or “controlled” don’t automatically make me cringe. Intellectually, I get the preferences and how the language used can set the tone for interactions. For some people, always “testing” their blood sugar is going to lead to anxiety and feelings of being judged. In that context, I can see how “checking” is more neutral. Same thing for so many word choices.

I’m more sensitive to what vibe I’m getting behind and around the words… I’m pretty forgiving of language/words if they are being said with kindness and open-mindedness. But no words will help if I feel like I’m being criticized or judged about my own care or the Bear’s diabetes. Sometimes that leaves me feeling a bit confused — why am I ok when one person says something but go ballistic when someone else says the same thing? Of course, I’m also way more sensitive to anything relating to the Bear’s diabetes than my own.

I think my bottom line is that each person should be able to ask others to respect their preferences when it comes to diabetes terminology. The people who care about you and are part of your life will want to help out in this way. I’ll leave the greater advocacy issues to those already doing great work in this area!

Read more about language and diabetes using today’s link list!

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2 Responses to Do Words Matter?

  1. Kelley says:

    Yes, you are so right-the vibe definitely impacts me more than the words. Great post!

  2. Frank says:

    Absolutely respect!

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