Is it just me, or has their been an abundance of news stories as of late relating to individuals with Down syndrome? These stories are getting a lot of attention in social media circles…but for (what I think) is the wrong reason.
Today we had this piece floating around…garnering a lot of “LIKES”:
My first reaction upon seeing this headline was “Great!”.
Then I got to the part where the mom says she wants people with Down syndrome to be seen as “sexy”, I cringed a little. I think it’s great to represent and mainstream individuals with Down Syndrome. Increased media exposure helps our society adjust to seeing these people as just normal folks. Seeing these same individuals as sexy bugs me a bit because of consent. I call my daughters “beautiful”, but not “sexy”. It becomes creepy like a pageant mom to me at that point. Just me.
I do think she’s a beautiful girl, I love her confidence and fearlessness. I hope she gets tons of wholesome, catalog work.
Many individuals with Down syndrome are vulnerable throughout their lives. To see them as “sexy” is just a whole new way to objectify them and perhaps victimize them.
Another piece making the rounds the last few weeks was this seemingly sweet headline:
Pennsylvania QB take friend with Down syndrome to prom
What kind of monster wouldn’t find this story endearing and sweet? Well, me. A little.
What this boy did is nice. It’s not heroic. It’s not so out of the realm of “normal” behavior that it warrants national attention, is it? I’m irked that being a decent human being has become exceptionalism in our society. This girl didn’t have ebola. He knew her since childhood. This story reminds me a bit of this “news” item that went around last year before the holidays about the cop who gave a homeless man a pair of boots. How heartwarming. A policeman does something kind. Shocking!
That ain’t news folks. That’s what should be expected. Kindness. Humanity. Helping others. Thinking of the needs of others.
When each person with Down syndrome goes to prom, or graduates high school, makes the swim team, or does something completely normal and it’s national news, we are missing this point of acceptance and inclusion. Sure, these are great moments in anyone’s life, and yes, I know how hard this little girl worked to make the cheerleading squad (as did all of her older sisters), but when we put them on a pedestal and award them with (albeit fleeting) fame, we make it seem miraculous that they were able to accomplish this.
Now try to convince people that your child with Down syndrome is really just like everyone else.
Didn’t your prom photo get 27 million likes?