Friday, May 11, 2012

It's Good to be Different!

I went grocery shopping by myself a few days ago. I don’t go out very often and seldom alone. I took my scooter because my arms aren’t up to pushing my wheelchair the 4 or 5 blocks to the store. I felt like I had a bright yellow bull’s eye or bright, multi-colored striped hair or something equally difficult for people to avoid gaping at because many people were staring hard at me. It bothered me a little bit but it didn’t anger me like this kind of behavior has in the past. Strangely, it made me feel very sad, sad and a little hurt, that people behave this way. At one point in my life, I would have seriously considered running them over! Lol

That experience it made me think about looking different, why people stare at some people and not others and what differences result in people gaping and staring at other people. This issue has always puzzled me because as children many of us are taught that different is good, being unique is something to celebrate. I’m a little different looking and I’m short but given the variety of people in our world even on my scooter or in my wheelchair, there’s nothing really remarkable about me worth staring at (I don’t think). What is it about physical disabilities that make some people stare slack-jawed?

I also thought about a group of human beings who are treated particularly bad by some people: Little People. Little People deal with people staring at them almost whenever they go out. In fact, some Little People report that not only are they stared at, but people take photos of them, without permission. That is just so rude, so utterably obnoxious! It would anger me so much I’d try to break the camera! Little People aren't disabled they're just smaller than the average person. Some Little People are! My mother told me this happened once when I was small. We were out shopping. I had long leg braces and was walking on crutches. According to my mom, 'some jackass’ came up to us and started snapping pictures of me. My pretty, kind, and reserved mom yelled and started running at the guy! I wish I remembered this incident! What nerve that man had! My mother used to get angry and upset just telling this story. But what's so captivating about being small and short?!

I don’t understand what’s so fascinating about being short or being little. I’m short, several inches under 5 feet. Big deal! The only remotely interesting thing about being short is, possibly, how Little People adapt to getting everyday tasks such as the dishes, laundry and cooking accomplished. For instance, I use pasta tongs to get boxes and cans off high shelves and love stepping stools. So?! This doesn’t explain the staring and picture taking out in public. If Little People are so fascinating because they're different, why aren’t other different people like obese people, people with bright flaming-red hair or people with piercing all over their face and head?

Little People weren’t helped by this extremely offensive and insensitive incident: A few months ago Rosie O’Donnell, in an interview with Chelsea Handler, announced that she ‘fears’ and has ‘anxiety’ around Little People. O’Donnell asked Handler if she would ”do a little person?”. Handler said no, saying “that would be child abuse“. A Little Person, Chuy, works on Handler’s show with her. She thinks that if not for her, Chuy would be unemployed and admitted, “I bite Chuy”. Chandler’s comments indicated she pities Little People. She fully supported O’Donnell’s fears and laughed with her. Rosie questioned how it’s possible for a Little Person to give birth to an average size person and wondered why the Little Person doesn’t die. I thought O’Donnell had children? Doesn’t she know how small babies are when born?!

O’Donnell and Handler’s comments are shockingly disrespectful of Little People, totally unprofessional, obnoxious, and hurtful. Handler’s treatment of Chuy are demeaning. Even worse, their comments suggest that it’s fine for their listeners and other people to fear, mock and tease Little People and treat them as less than human. It’s distressing and unbelievable. I’m sure considering their careers, O’Donnell and Handler are well-aware of the reality shows and talk shows featuring Little People and their concern and work helping the world understand that they are just human beings like the rest of us, who sometimes do things a little differently. And with a lot more decency and decorum than some people.

Chelsea Handler is known for bizarre comments and off-color remarks on her show in the name of comedy. But these things were said during an interview, not on her show. And there’s nothing funny about her comments or O’Donnell’s about Chuy or Little People. Are these two women so ignorant they’re unaware of how hurtful their remarks were? I don’t think so and the latter excuses them too easily. It’s more likely they didn’t care how their comments came across. O’Donnell’s comedic and talk-show careers have kept her in the public eye and on-camera for years, making any excuse for her behavior towards Little People wrong. But don‘t try to mock or belittle anything Rosie O‘Donnell believes in because she‘ll have your head on a platter. Oh yeah, Rosie’s apology, on twitter no less, was similarly irresponsible and unprofessional.

It’s saddens me that in this day and age, there are still people who think and behave like these two women...and they’re paid to be on camera and entertain. I don’t get it. (Phew!) I think it’s great to be different and unique, whether you choose it or are born that way. And I’m inspired by Little People. I think there’s a lot they can teach the world about life and living!


Anna said...

That's just awful, and there's nothing funny about making rude comments about people. I agree with you that it doesn't makes sense how children are often told that different is a good thing, yet people perceived to be different are criticized or laughed at, etc., by adults.

Esme said...

No matter how much we educate people, some will just always be rude. I am not sure they know any different. I wish you did not have to experience this Amy.