What’s “Normal”?

Carol A. Hand

Facebook reminded me of a post I made three years ago (September 26, 2012). It was dedicated to a friend and former colleague in the art department of the university where I used to teach. He’s the one who taught me how to use art to unlock stories as a form of resistance to hegemony.

Hi dear friend, this is for you and the A-Team [the Action Team we worked with to address racial discrimination on campus]. While working on a critique of how social work educators deal with difference, I remembered the importance of art. 🙂 Many years ago, I was inspired by an illustration in Michel Foucault’s book, Discipline and Punish, of the process often used to assimilate those who are different. I have attached my attempt to draw a similar metaphor.


Photo: Drawing by Carol A. Hand
(based on an adaptation of N. Andry (1749), Orthopaedrics or the art of preventing and correcting deformities of the body in children, cited in Foucault, 1979, illustration # 10, inset between pp. 169-170)

Today, this memory inspired a (somewhat) light-hearted poem…

If you’re a different kind of tree
Accustomed to adversity
Others may find you strange

They may say the constraints imposed
To help you fit in, with options closed
Are for your own good – a necessary change

Please believe me – you’re fine just as you are
With your roots deep in the earth
Hold onto your dreams as you aim for a shooting star


Photo: Shooting Star – Clip Arts 

Work Cited:

Foucault, Michel (1979). Discipline & punish: The birth of the prison. (A. Sheridan, Trans.). New York: Vintage Books. (Original work published 1975)

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

16 thoughts on “What’s “Normal”?

  1. Oh, I absolutely love this, Carol. You described me to a T. I’ve never been normal and eventually got the point where I really didn’t want to be normal based on the “normals” I’d met, if you know what I mean. So here’s to be just who we are no matter how or where we fit in. Love and hugs, N 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, here’s to who we are – two elders who have lived through interesting times, some of them dark, but who can still love life and enjoy poetry and flowers. I’m grateful we’re on this journey together. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How much better the world would be if people were not taught to fear people who are “different” from themselves. Then perhaps, we could all live side by side without expectations about what is “normal” and “abnormal.” We are all unique individuals. We were made the way we are, which is the right way according to whatever or whomever made us.

    If not for the manipulations of the powers that be, who desire to keep us divided in all ways, there would be no need for “normalcy” or “fitting in”. We could just be!

    Liked by 1 person

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