Today (August 13) is International Left Handers Day, 24 hours that celebrate those who rely on their left hand.
The date has been observed on August 13 each year since 1976, when it was founded by Dean R. Campbell, founder of the Lefthanders International, Inc. The Left-Handers Day Club "declared" it official in 1997.
The day itself is used for left-handers to be loud and proud about their uniqueness, as opposed to the past when some lefties were viewed with suspicion. According to NBC News Channel 4, in September 2015 a four-year-old boy was sent home from school with a letter saying "how left-handedness is often associated with evil and the devil." His teacher had also written to his mother that being left-handed was "unlucky."
Why is being left-handed so rare?
Around 11% percent of the world's population is left-handed, according to LiveScience.com. But what makes someone left-handed?
Researchers at Northwestern University created a mathematical model which shows that being a leftie is the result of the balance between "cooperation and competition in human evolution." The research was published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface and was tested against real-world data from competitive sports to confirm that social behavior itself is related to becoming left-handed.
Speaking at the time, Professor Daniel M. Abrams, assistant professor at McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, says that the more "social the animal, the more the general population will trend toward one side."
The model also helped explain why many athletes were left-handed; competition is a big factor for these individuals and thus they end up being lefties rather than relying on their right hands.
While being left-handed might still be looked upon with suspicion, many go on to lead successful lives.
According to Time, U.S. President Barack Obama is left-handed, but he wasn't the first president who needed to tie his shoelaces the other way around. Other presidents who were lefties include James Garfield, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W Bush and Bill Clinton.
Personalities such as Ophrah Winfrey and Bill Gates are left-handed, with guitarist Jimi Hendrix being famous for his left-handed playing. According to Time, Hendrix actually taught himself to play right-handed guitar strings in reverse order (normally left-handed guitars are restrung) which allowed him to alternate between left- and right-hand playing.
There have also been left-handed scientists such as Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Sir Issac Newton and Alan Turing, none of who let being left-handed hold them back.
Where can you by left-handed products?
Of course, being left-handed does come with its problems. A lot of products that right-handed people take for granted can be impossible to use for their left-handed friends. One of the main ones that many might remember from school is scissors.
Anything Left Handed has created an "essential" pack for lefties to help them navigate through life. The set includes:
- Left-handed general purpose scissors with fully reversed blades
- Left-handed tin opener with geared rotary action
- Left-handed swivel blade peeler
- T-pattern left-handed corkscrew with anti-clockwise screw
- Pack of 5 lead pencils printed in the left-handed direction
- 2-hole left-handed pencil sharpener with case
- Clear plastic left-handed ruler 6" / 15cm ruler scaled from right to left
- Left-hander's notepad with the pages glued on the right so you can tear them off easily when writing left-handed