The evaluation of normalization methods sometimes focuses on the maximization of vowel-space similarity. This focus can lead to the adoption of methods that erase legitimate phonetic variation from our data, that is, overnormalization. First, a production corpus is presented that highlights three types of variation in formant patterns: uniform scaling, nonuniform scaling, and centralization. Then the results of two perceptual experiments are presented, both suggesting that listeners tend to ignore variation according to uniform scaling, while associating nonuniform scaling and centralization with phonetic differences. Overall, results suggest that normalization methods that remove variation not according to uniform scaling can remove legitimate phonetic variation from vowel formant data. As a result, although these methods can provide more similar vowel spaces, they do so by erasing phonetic variation from vowel data that may be socially and linguistically meaningful, including a potential male-female difference in the low vowels in our corpus.