Thursday, October 13, 2011

Are you crossing the line?

On Tuesday, it was brought to my attention that I may want to consider setting my DVR to record yesterday’s episode of the medical information show, The Doctors.

Why? Well, they’d be talking about people with Ds who choose to have plastic surgery to change their much more obvious facial features to those that were considered more subtle. The goal would be to not be immediately identified as a person with an intellectual disability and perhaps then be afforded more opportunities or maybe even just be treated more like the average 46er. (Guessing these people haven't see this video of a woman getting taunted and beaten, but I digress.)

Ok. I understand the premise. I’ve heard of this type of surgery before, but there’s not a lot of information out there on people that have actually had the procedure(s) done. This is possibly because many of the patients are minors and/or it’s done in secret as to not bring attention to a surgery that was meant to defray such attention in the first place. I do recall seeing an article about a little girl in the UK a while ago. That’s about it though.

Really, it’s not about whether or not I agree with what people choose to do with their, or their children’s, faces. It’s not something I would do with my daughter. I can say that. As much as I wish we could keep her tongue from protruding, I'd much rather continue Oral Motor Therapy than clip it. I just don’t see the point.

Which brings me to the show.

I watched it last night thinking that there might be an actual debate. I thought that maybe they’d shed some light on the types of procedures people are having done, what the “success” rate is, or whatever. I wanted, and expected data. You know, actual medical information from a show built on providing medical information.


Ok, so the topic of the episode was “Are you crossing the line?”. They had several different segments that addressed people’s controversial cosmetic surgery choices, the last of which being the one that addressed Down syndrome.

I admit, I rolled my eyes a lot. There was way too much clapping. There was no debating like there had been in previous segments. It just seemed like, once again, the argument was that people with Ds are perfect and we can’t even TALK about things the way that other groups can.

Their faces remind people that they are different and that’s necessary because otherwise they wouldn’t get the help they might need*. (thunderous applause) People with Ds don’t need to try to be “normal”; “normal” people need to get with the program and accept people with Ds just the way they are.** (thunderous applause)

*But what about all the people with varying disabilities that don’t have Ds? Should they change their features to get help?

** Ok, fine. Yes. But what about the people who don’t agree? Let’s hear from them. Are there people who had it done and are happy with it? Show me. Or what about random audience members who have no Ds connection? Would they treat someone differently if they looked different?

Even Dr. Sears, who has a brother with Ds, said that his parents considered the surgery at one point, but opted not to go through with it.

He then went on to say,““We talk about trying to create normalcy,” Dr. Sears says. “But with Stephen, we could make him look normal on the outside, but he’s not normal on the inside.” (thunderous applause)


For a show that talks about Ds on occasion and has a sibling of a person with Ds on staff, you’d think that some People First Language would come into play. But, no. There was a lot of Down’s/Down syndrome babies/people this and that, plus way too much use of the word “normal” for my own personal taste.

Because, really, what is “normal”?

I learned nothing new from watching the episode so that was disappointing. Additionally, it felt very patronizing.

I’m not upset with the show because they chose to talk about a controversial topic. I mean, they didn’t even really dig deep into it or anything. Plus, they didn’t create the surgery; they just brought the information forth. But, blah.

I did enjoy seeing Gail and Blair Williamson on screen though. Gail was the catalyst for our participation in the I’m Down with You project and her son, Blair, is an accomplished actor.


Evelyn said...

Wow, is all I can say. Surgery is something I would never consider for my daughter. Even though it might make her look a little different than what she looks now, it still doesn't change the fact that she has 47 chromosomes.

I agree with you...what is normal? There are some people out here who are classified as 'normal', but when you speak with them, it makes you wonder.

People are who they are.

Thanks for sharing and I feel the same way you do.

Take care,

Evelyn Parham