In honour of International Left-Handers Day (13 August) our Internal Communications Officer, Emma Kuttappa, talks about why she will be celebrating this Sunday –
I’m fiercely proud of being left-handed, its part of what makes me who I am. I’m lucky to have been brought up by parents who didn’t challenge it or try to change me. Historically for many others though, this wasn’t the case. Being left-handed was considered ‘wrong’ and associated with evil; southpaws were considered to be ‘children of the Devil’ (such a wicked thing to make children grow up believing that, I’m still outraged even if it may have been centuries ago!).
Language is an important element to consider with left-handedness. When you’re correct, you’re ‘right’, you can be somebody’s ‘right-hand’ person, never left-handed, even the word ‘left’ has negative connotations, coming from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘lyft’ meaning weak or broken. In French, ‘gauche’ means left, but it also means ‘clumsy’ or ‘awkward’. The Latin word for left is ‘sinister’ which isn’t exactly positive either!
At this point you may be thinking being left-handed isn’t so great, but that’s where you’re wrong! I look to the amazing role-models, creators, artists, inventors, leaders and heroes past and present that have been, or are, left-handed, and I feel inspired and proud. The list of famous and fabulous left-handers is endless - Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and philanthropist, yep he’s left-handed, Michelangelo, one of the world’s greatest artists’, he was a leftie (and in his world-famous and breath-taking painting ‘The Creation of Adam’ on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Adam is left-handed), Sir Paul McCartney, a Liverpudlian, a Beatle and left-handed (he’s ticking all of the boxes!) and what about Oprah Winfrey, Marie Curie, Neil Armstrong, Albert Einstein, Jimi Hendrix, Joan of Arc, Barack Obama, the list goes on. Interestingly, before Donald Trump, 5 of the last 7 Presidents of the USA have been left-handed, but not Trump (he’s more interested in hand size it seems!).
And now, as a very proud auntie of a left-handed nephew, I realise the importance of being a role-model for him. He’s struggled with learning to write and spell (as with many left-handers, handwriting is often a struggle). I want to help him to understand that being in the very special 7-10% of the population that is left-handed isn’t a negative thing, our differences are worth celebrating. The future is bright, the future is left-handed.