Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On beauty


That's the word most people (usually the ones who wish to be kind and compassionate) use to describe my daughter, to describe people with Down syndrome. That is the word most parents of kids with Down syndrome use to describe their child. There is a movement called 'more alike than different'. There are blogs and pamphlets filled with analogies that all draw from the idea that one measly chromosome in the complex, intricate medley that is a cell is a big enough divider to make a person different from 'the rest of us'.

Now, I have no problem with being different. I like difference in everything. I like unique. I like variety. I like change.

What I do have a huge honking problem with is the assumption that 'the rest of us' are all so much the same that we can become the sea of poppies in an especially annoying gardening analogy while a person with that extra chromosome becomes a daisy, or worse, a (albeit beautiful) weed.

Well, I'm no poppy, and my kid's no daisy. I'm not more alike with my neighbor than I am with my kid. My best friend's kid is not necessarily more like her than my kid is like me, just because of an extra chromosome.

We are all different. We are all unique. The extra chromosome should not divide between us and them, as shouldn't race, religion, gender, sexual preference, nationality, language, length of the middle finger, or internet search engine preference.

What is seen as disability in today's world seems to be the last accepted other (as popularized by Said), reminiscent of the previously accepted others - one's sexual preference preceded by the color of one's skin. During my studies of American slavery I remember reading pages and pages of descriptions of the 'negro', and the 'savage'. Ideas and generalizations I thought had been left in history, but which keep returning to me when ever I decide to read yet another 'description of Down syndrome'.

I'm not going to tell you that children with Down syndrome are beautiful. That would be like saying that all blonds are stupid, people with Down syndrome are always happy, or that Trekkies are all smart. All I'm saying is that my kid (with Down syndrome) is beautiful, and that I've met quite a few people with Down syndrome who are beautiful as well.

I do wish to show that my kid is beautiful, in case there is someone who thinks that just because she has Down syndrome beauty is somehow beyond her reach. But that's as far as I'll go. 

Like snowflakes we are all unique, all different, and like snowflakes we are all the same. How's that for an annoying analogy?  

This is my child, and she is beautiful.


Bloghopping with Down wit Dat in May 2014 with an oldie but (an under-appreciated?) goodie post. 


  1. She is gorgeous and not because you say so. She is a really pretty little girl. Also, she resembles my little one in many ways so I may be partial. BTW, this is Robin....I started a new and much more boring blog due to lack of inspiration after neglecting my old one for a million years. Also, how did you get that bow to stay? My little blondie loses her bow's almost immediately.

  2. Babe is such an adorable kiddo. She's got mama's colourings and looks like both of you. All of our kids are beautiful, and we are all biased. I don't think I ever would have said "that girl has Ds but she is gorgeous" before I had Ev. My, how things change. Different is beautiful and different is unique and don't let anyone tell her differently.

  3. She is utterly gorgeous and you are right to show it. Amanda is also right, we are all biased about our children: I'll still punch to the ground anyone who says my daughter isn't and she's now 14. Hopefully both our girls will have inherited enough of our loudly and fiercely stroppy natures to do the same themselves to anyone who questions their beauty as they grow up.
    Disclaimer: obviously violence solves nothing, so maybe that should read "verbally punch to the ground"?


The Viking came home from a business trip packing a pink castle, a whole heap of princess and prince dollies and a carriage pulled by a unicorn. Life's good until someone swallows a crown or a glass slipper. I won't ever answer your comment, but I'll sure appreciate it while I'm sifting through shit looking for that crown. Yah.