August 13th is International Left-Handers Day!
Do you know anyone who is left-handed? Are you left-handed?
The world we live in is a world created for right-handed people. Most of the time you wouldn’t give a second thought to what it means to be a left-handed person in a “righties” world. That is if you’re right-handed.
People who are dominant with their left hand face some unusual challenges on a regular basis though. Let’s find out more about what it means to be a “lefty.”
The Origins of International Left-Handers Day
International Left Handers Day was created by Dean R. Campbell in 1976. Mr. Campbell was a publicist and founded Lefthanders International, Inc. He wanted to bring awareness to the daily challenges faced by people who are left-handed.
He created a magazine for left-handed folk that published articles and had ads for items created especially for lefties.
But James S. Borthwick wasn't too happy with that magazine, so he decided to create an online version of Lefthanders International that features plenty of articles and information on all things lefty. The site even has a comprehensive list of famous left-handed people including Leonardo da Vinci.
Being A Lefty Wasn't Always "Right"
Lefties make up only about 10% of the world’s population. Meaning if you’re a lefty, you're pretty unique.
This difference wasn’t something to celebrate, though. Not so long ago, lefties were discouraged from using their left hands in tasks like writing. It was thought there was something “wrong” with a child who wrote left-handed.
That’s not the worst part. Back in the middle ages, people who were left-handed were thought to be possessed by the devil! People actually believed a person was a warlock or witch if they were left-handed.
In fact, being left hand dominant is called "sinistral" while being right hand dominant is called "dextral". You can see the root of the word "sinister" right in the description. Yikes!
Things have gotten much better since the dark ages…thankfully. It took a while. In fact, it took well into the 20th century for lefties to be accepted for the unique people they are!
Even Animals Can Be Lefties
Scientists studying polar bears have noted most of them are left-paw dominant. Other primates such as monkeys and chimpanzees can also be lefties.
Even critters without hands or paws can show directional traits such as certain types of frogs who jump away from predators will favor a left or right escape route.
Oh, and the awesome octopus is the most lefty of them all! They're said to only have one right hand...er, tentacle.
What Make Us Left-Handed?
The brain decides whether which hand is dominant for us. Our brains are divided into two hemispheres. The left side controls the right side of the body, and the right side controls the left.
Depending on how our brain pathways develop determines which hand will become the favored for tasks.
Lefties Face A Few Problems
In school, there are no such things as left-handed desks. Unless the chair is separate from the desk, all desks are created to wrap around the right side, providing support for your right arm when you write.
Even the simple task of writing is a challenge. As you write, most languages across the globe go left to right. If you’re right-handed, the tip of your writing tool stays behind your hand as you move across the page. If you’re left-handed, your hand follows the tip. That means smears in your writing and smudges on your hand.
Left-handed scissors are a relatively new invention. The small hole is designed for your thumb. The larger hole is for your fingers. The way the cutting edges are designed on most scissors, they work best when you use them with your right hand. It’s pretty awkward to try to use scissors upside down with your left.
Kitchen Challenges for Lefties
Cutting something with a serrated knife? The beveled edge on the teeth of the blade is designed with the right hand in mind. If you slice something with a serrated knife using your left hand, you’ll end up with an uneven cut.
Sitting down to have a meal poses a challenge, too. If a leftie is sitting to the right of someone who is right-handed, they have to give each other some room otherwise they'll be knocking elbows while they try to eat.
How about using a manual can opener? Yep, those are designed for right-hand use. You grip the handles with your left hand and turn the crank with your right. If you’re left-hand dominant, it gets weird.
Fortunately, today you can find products designed with lefties in mind. You can even find Left-Hand stores online!
Still, being a lefty in a right-handed world poses some interesting things to work around.
Bonuses to Being Left-Handed
Plus, there are some unique traits that left-handed people possess. They’re highly adaptable. They figure out how to use, or work with, all the stuff that’s made for people who are right-handed. They’re good at sports like tennis, baseball, and boxing.
So, if you know a left-handed person, or if you’re a leftie, August 13th is a day to celebrate. You can include your lefty kitchen skills when you create a fabulous meal with eat2explore!