“The word ‘normal’ is often used as a synonym for ‘typical,’ ‘expected,’ or even ‘correct.’ By that logic, most people should fit the description of normal. But time and time again, so-called normal descriptions of our bodies, minds, and perceptions have turned out to match almost no one. So what does normal actually mean— and should we be relying on it so much?”
What is “normal” and what is “different”? Learn where our perceptions of “normal” came from, as well how those ideas impact the decisions we make.
This TED-Ed lesson by Yana Buhrer Tavanier explores some of the history, as well as the challenges and flaws that can come with how data might be collected and interpreted. The animation is directed by Eoin Duffy.
More from Kids Health: I’m Growing Up – But Am I Normal?
“There’s no one type of normal. The next time you go to the mall or a sporting event, take a look around. You’ll see tall people, short people, and people with broad shoulders, little feet, big stomachs, long fingers, stubby legs, and skinny arms … you get the idea.
“You can change your hairstyle or put on a new hat, but the way you look isn’t entirely under your control. Your looks were largely determined by your parents. When your parents created you, they passed on their genes, which helped to decide your size and shape, your eye color and hair texture, even whether you have freckles…”
“But genes don’t decide everything. For example, eating an unhealthy diet can keep you from growing to your full potential. Getting plenty of sleep, enough exercise, and nutrients will help you grow just like you should…
“TV and magazines might make us think our bodies should weigh and look a certain way. But in real life, there are a lot of differences.”
Related reading for older audiences: How the Idea of a ‘Normal’ Person Got Invented, the story of Adolphe Quetelet and the Average Man.
Watch this video next: Nobody is Normal, a stop-motion animation for the U.K.’s Childline.
Then watch these related videos:
• The psychology behind ‘Us vs Them’
• Three striped balls and a polka dot ball (1976)
• Balablok (1972), Bretislav Pojar’s animated parody of human nature
• What is systemic racism?
• What is intersectionality?
• The Reflection in Me, an animation about self-appreciation
• Right On Tracks: Music videos that encourage kindness, inclusion, and empathy