“People often assume I will think, respond, or act in a certain way based on the way I speak. I find myself being self conscious around new people because of my strong accent. My voice is often associated with a certain type of person and in turn I find it awkward to express certain views because I’m afraid of being labelled as ’typical’. This has lead me to be conscious of speaking too loudly in public due to the fear of people making nasty comments about me.
“I have been judged countless times by both new acquaintances and strangers, with weighty assumptions often being made about my political views, family life, upbringing and level of intelligence simply because of how I naturally talk; which is both hurtful as well as completely untrue. This means I am now less confident in myself in social situations where I might be meeting new people. This is further exacerbated when people’s misguided notion of who I am contradicts with their own viewpoints, meaning they take a disliking to me before they have a chance to get to know me.
“Freedom of expression and speech is the central focus of so many discussions, however little is said about how society judges the way in which individuals speak or pronounce certain words, but this mode of discrimination is yet another tool by which society is able to fit people into boxes and label individuals with preconceived notions of who they are simply because of how they sound. Whilst it may not be a prolific as racial or sexual discrimination, it is extremely demoralising to be judged by my voice before being given a chance to express who I really am.”
Photo credit: Harriet Evans
Editing: Ming Au