Can adhering to a definition or “type” create an environment where we are stifling natural behavior and limiting what we consider as “good?”
In Average Oppression, Laura Grace Weldon takes a sharp look at the current obsession to define and standardize everything from weight to grades to how our food looks.
The author sets up what she wants to say from a personal framework – her son’s doctor telling him he is overweight without looking at the context of the situation. The doctor just looked as some height/weight chart and diagnosed without looking at the overall health of the patient. Just like many produce growers making appearance-based judgements about the quality of a food and discarding what doesn’t match the accepted norm. Just as striking is the point she makes about education. How can there even be a definition of an “average student” without taking into account the individual needs and strengths of each learner?
I wasn’t very sure on who she was speaking to in this blog – parents, educators or the public at large. Having more defined audience would have given me more of an understanding of what she wanted her readers to walk away with.
Even without this clear view of the audience, she is very effective I hammering her point home with consistent soft blows. The statistics she provides are useful for readers to help put her arguments into context. How many of us realize how many apples don’t make it to market because they don’t fit someone’s ideal of an apple? She also does a great job of making readers conscious of how much we unknowingly find ourselves comparing things to what the “average” for that thing is and how often that average doesn’t really apply.
The last point the author makes about the need for “cross-pollination, diversity, self-assembly, interdependence, adaption, balance, and an undeniable tendency toward beauty” was especially powerful as it reminded me that remixing away from the average drives progress.