Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Thought on the Societal Perspective of Abnormality Among Normality

My paper and media collages as originally submitted on January 10, 2010,
with an all inclusive collage at the conclusion.

There are so many different ways that I could have approached the topics of what it is to be “normal,” and what it is to be “disabled.” I decided to reflect upon society since it is society who responds to media in regards of normality and disability. It is also society who influences community, and culture, which then leads to the environmental influences upon a person’s schema of various topics and ideas.
I chose to do my media collage before starting this thought paper. I believed it would expand the probably-small schema I had about normality and disability, and, in a way, it has. As I did various searches I began to understand the way society perceives both normalcy and disability. While Internet searches are not scholarly, I justified it because the majority of Americans have access to the Internet as well as access to sites where they can contribute their opinions and ideas.
While my searches gave me a different sort of understanding, I became frustrated with the top items that would come up in the search – especially when I used the search term, “disability.” It seems like the most common idea of disability seems to be someone who is wheelchair-bound. I was frustrated with this because, while my understanding of disability is not a full one, I know that there are other types of disabilities – whether they be mental or physical – and obviously there is a lack of media representation of those various disabilities.
I was even frustrated with my search results for, “normal.” I had to add words for more specificity since it was too broad of a term. So when I added, “man,” or “woman,” to the search, I found that the majority of top hits were semi-famous people who were described as being “just a normal man,” or “just a normal woman,” for whatever purpose it served. These results for “normal” people were frustrating because it showed photos of people that are digitally retouched and photoshopped – they are probably as far away from the societal norm as someone who is labeled as being disabled.
What does “normal” mean? “Normal” is defined as a way of “conforming to a standard,” or in the way of describing a person, it is someone who is, “free from physical or mental disorders.” (Oxford American Dictionaries) When someone says they are normal, when someone says their child is normal, I believe it is a label – a way to safeguard themselves, and their offspring against societal criticism and disparagement. While socially safeguarding themselves, I believe it also allows the “normal” speakers the opportunity to believe it for themselves, as illogical as it may be.
Definitions aside, I must recognize that as “politically correct” as terms can be, there is nothing “politically correct” about the way people with recognizable disabilities are treated by others. From my experience with the word, “disability,” doesn’t seem to be a word that a person would voluntarily use when describing him self. I think it’s more of a word used as a label by others, usually it is the “politically correct,” way to describe a person who has “a physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities.” (Oxford American Dictionaries) I suppose that when a person does use the term, especially when parents use it when describing their child, that it is a form of acceptance of oneself, for one’s child, and it is a way to acknowledge a person’s problems while marking one’s individuality.

So, what do you think???

Read more about my thoughts Disability


Christine said...

I love the Wordles. They are so powerful. I like the third one you added (with the text from this post/your paper?). Interesting that "frustrating' came up so often :)

Aud Fairy said...

Thanks sis! If it weren't for you I wouldn't have even known about Wordles!!!

michness said...

Hello, Holly!

I came across your blog the other day and loved reading it. It also happens to align itself with a project that I am involved with - Stage of Life.

Would you be interested in being one of our Guest/Featured Bloggers on the Stage of Life Project ( We're working with bloggers and writers to grow our mission of compiling the world's largest pool of cross-generational stories and essays.

If you would like more information, feel free to send me an email at!

I look forward to hearing from you,


P.s. If you don't have time to guest blog for us, we understand. You may promote your blog within each essay/story you share in the project, but if your bandwidth is busy, we'd love a mention on your site about our project if you do reviews. We wish you the best.