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What is genetics?

If this isn't a science test, why do genetics matter to me?

So, I can't change some of the stuff that I don't like about myself. What can I do?

QuestionWhat is genetics?

AnswerGenetics is the study of heredity—or, how people's looks and other qualities are passed down to them from their parents, and even from the generations before them. Most everyone knows that kids often look like their parents, right? Through genetics, we understand the science of why they do.

So, maybe you love the dimple you get when you smile, or your hazel eyes. You can thank your genes for those! But, maybe you think your feet are too big. Or, maybe you grab your blow dryer and force your curly hair straight each morning. Those feet and those curls, they come from your genes, too. Even things like a talent for music or drawing can be linked to your heredity. Sometimes people notice other traits, too — they may say "you walk just like your dad" or "you sound just like your grandmother." You can thank your genes for all these things.

QuestionIf this isn't a science test, why do genetics matter to me?

AnswerKnowing about genetics can help you understand yourself better. This helps you figure out what you can change about yourself, and what you can't. It sounds obvious, but you might as well spend your energy working on the things you can change, rather than worrying about the things you can't.

Plus, genetics isn't just about looks. It's also about health. Parents can pass genes to their child that affect how likely that child is to develop a certain disease.

QuestionSo, I can't change some of the stuff that I don't like about myself. What can I do?



  • First, focus on the positive—that is, the things you do like about your body, your personality, and the things you do well.
  • Second, take charge of the things you can do to be healthier, including eating healthy, and getting lots of physical activity.
  • Third, see the big picture. A great many things about who you are come to you from a long line of people. So, if you have some funny trait like crazy-long toes—just remember that there was probably once a kid in the 1800s who sat around thinking about his or her own crazy-long toes...never knowing that one day, they'd show up on your feet more than a century later.
And, finally, there may be billions of people in the world, but you are the only you that there will ever be.



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