Why Do We Look The Same?

Why Do We Look The Same?


Letter 3

Why Do We Look The Same?

Hello again, Dear Julian!

Let’s play a game. 



Yes, all of them, at the same time. Wiggle them like mad! Wave your arms in the air and wiggle those fingers as fast as you can make them wiggle!

Okay. Phew. Let’s stop wiggling for a second.

Aren’t fingers amazing? You were telling all ten fingers to wiggle at the same time, each of them moving in a different way, and you didn’t even have to think about it! Your fingers knew what to do. I said “wiggle all your fingers!” and that’s the same message you gave your fingers – and off they went. 

This is one of the most wonderful things to learn about your body. If you look after it properly, it will do all the hard work without being told exactly what to do. It’s your lifelong job to make sure it can do that. 

But here’s another amazing thing about fingers. Look at your mum’s hand. And your dad’s. And everyone else’s. We all have ten fingers as well.

When you’re born, doctors will check if you are born with ten fingers – because that’s the normal amount for a human being. Ten fingers on our hands, ten toes on our feet, two arms at either side of our body, two legs (exactly long enough to reach the ground!), two eyes in our face, two ears on the side of our head, one mouth, one nose, one tongue. 

And it goes further. Inside us, we normally have two lungs, one heart, one stomach and one brain – and our genitals (private parts), half outside and half inside our bodies, give us a sense of identity as a boy or a girl that becomes very, very important when we grow up. 

Yet again, it’s down to the magical powers of cells. Specifically, what’s inside cells. Each cell is made out of a series of unbelievably small wisps of material called chromosomes – and it’s these that combine to make the special recipe (called a genetic code) that makes you almost the same as everyone else, but not quite. That “not quite” bit is what makes us all slightly different people. Just enough to make our personalities special – but still the same enough to say “all humans are one big family”.    

So, at the start of your life, doctors are checking to see if you look almost the same as everyone else.

Differences are part of life working correctly.

There are times when there might be a change in the way your body is formed, so you come out a little differently to everyone else. Some people are born with nine fingers instead of ten, or with one arm instead of two, or with a gap in their lip, or a mouth that connects with the nose. 

There are other differences that happen – sometimes when we’re born, sometimes later in life. Sometimes, something happens that can change the shape of our body so it doesn’t actually work properly. This happens as a result of a disease (a way that the body breaks down) or through some kind of accident. There’s no manual to teach you how to react in such cases – but there are always people who will know how to help. The highly trained version of these people are called “doctors”. The less well-trained are called “other people”. Everyone is here to help you – as long as you are brave enough to ask for (and accept) that help.

And whatever that difference is, it doesn’t mean anything. Not really. It might mean a little corrective surgery at some point. It might mean you get a little more attention from people. But it doesn’t mean anything. The only differences that mean anything are the things inside us, not our outsides.

This is a hard lesson to learn, my dear Julian. As humans, we are naturally interested when someone looks different to us. Sometimes those differences make us feel nervous or even scared, and we behave weirdly to each other. So we forget how we’re exactly the same, under those skin-deep differences. Always remember: bodies are always different, but the people inside them are virtually the same.   

When something goes wrong with your body, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Your body is amazing. There is no machine made by humans that is even close to being as clever as a human body. In almost every case, your body knows how to heal itself in ways we will never be aware of – and when it can’t, there will be other people who know how to help it do its job. (The wonderful thing about doctors is that they know we’re all basically the same, under our skin, so they’ve learned how to fix us – and every year, doctors learn more and more ways of keeping us healthy. There’s never been a safer time to be alive.)  

Your body is so clever that it will never stop working to keep you healthy – and if you look after it, it’ll keep working just as hard, no matter how old you are. 

So – what does “look after it” mean? We need to learn some basics. 

(We’ll cover those another time, don’t worry.)

We must first learn how our own body feels, and learn what “healthy” feels like. In our early years, like yours right now, dear Julian – there are people to help us stay healthy, starting with our parents. And when we become adults, we take responsibility for our bodies, so we can live the lives we want and achieve the desires of our hearts.

But right now, here’s what I want you to learn today.

If you don’t understand something, ask to an explanation. 

If you’re scared, ask for help.

If there’s something important you want to say, be brave and say it.

We must be open and have the ability to help others in life, dear Julian – and it all starts with learning how to ask for help ourselves, and learning to say what’s on our minds.

Today would be a great day – the best day – to start practicing that, with all the people around you. So I’ll finish this letter now, and let you go do that.

Love you, baby boy!

This is a blog series after my book called Dear Julian: Welcome Letters To The World. Feel free to follow the series here on the blog or  buy the Kindle version on Amazon. Thanks for your support!

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