Sunday, July 24, 2011
Style Down Syndrome: Bring it.
Last week Dr. Brian Skotko, a Physician at Children’s Hospital Boston’s Down Syndrome Program wrote the following response to an article written by John B. Thompson at GQ Magazine...
On July 15, John B. Thompson of GQ magazine slammed Bostonians as the worst dressed in the nation. Evidently, our beloved Beantown is actually a “bad-taste storm sewer” where all the worst fashion ideas come to “stagnate and putrefy.” He further decries, “Boston suffers from a kind of Style Down Syndrome , where a little extra ends up ruining everything.”
Go ahead, GQ, and mock my blue whale-emblemed Nantucket-red pants. Laugh if you want at the loud argyles that I prefer to wear with my black suit. I don’t even care if you dismiss the sexy pink polka-dotted tie that I like to wear with my blue-checkered shirt in clinic. But, whatever you do, do not mess with my sister.
My sister, Kristin, has Down syndrome, and let me explain what “Style Down Syndrome” really is. “Style Down Syndrome” is smiling when everyone else prefers to frown. It’s spending three summers, in sheer determination, learning to ride a bike because you want the freedom to be like everyone else. It’s singing tunes from Grease at the top of your lungs with your friends. It’s celebrating a third-place victory at a swim meet with as much gusto as the gold medalist.
Style Down Syndrome is strong-willed, persevering, and forgiving—because it has to be.
People with Down syndrome are ridiculed on a daily basis. Although not as obvious as GQ’s sport, children with Down syndrome do not always get invited to birthday parties just because they have Down syndrome. Young adults, freshly minted from high school, sometimes have trouble finding post-secondary opportunities. And, adults with Down syndrome are often the first to be fired when the economy tanks.
All of this comes at a time when people with Down syndrome are achieving previously unimagined successes. They are graduating, working, living and loving within our communities. So, why do people underestimate their abilities? It must be because they do not know someone with Down syndrome. Because, if they did, they would come to appreciate the life lessons that accompany their extra chromosome.
If my friends who are black were mocked, they would not take it. If my friends who are gay were slurred, they would not take it. My 400,000 fellow Americans with Down syndrome have been cheapened, and I will not take it. I invite GQ magazine to introduce its readers to real people with Down syndrome through the My Great Story campaign of the National Down Syndrome Society.
According to Thriving, Children's Hospital Boston's pediatric health blog, Dr. Skotko's article went viral, "gaining mass attention on Twitter, Facebook and blogs, as well as mainstream media".
For several days my little site meter reflected the same, as the hits on Lily's blog doubled
shortly after blogging about both the GQ article and Dr. Skotko's blog post. Apparently I wasn't the only one dismayed by the insensitive language used in GQ's article, or the only one ignited by Dr. Skotko's eloquent and impassioned response.
The following quote is taken from Thriving:
“I have been impressed–although not surprised–by the speed in which the Down syndrome community has responded to this hurtful language from GQ magazine,” says Skotko. "Whether by e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or blog, Americans across the country are shouting loud and clear that people with Down syndrome deserve our respect and admiration.”
We're a tight-knit community. Whether it's rallying around orphans overseas who share our loved ones' extra chromosome or joining together to make a stand against those who would call our kids a burden to society- we've got our children's backs.
I asked Lily's readers and my friends in the Down Syndrome group on Babycenter.com to contribute photos for a response to GQ's article. I am so thankful that so many of my friends were willing to sacrifice their style reputation on the web to make a statement about their kids :)
I love compiling these types of montages or posts, and even though this one was meant to be on the lighter side, I still get choked up watching it. Well, who wouldn't?! Our kids are amazing, and that extra chromosome evidently brings extra emotion and devotion.
Style Down syndrome. Bring it.
*if you cannot view the player refresh the page. Also, pause Lily's playlist at the bottom of the page to hear the slideshow's music.
Posted by Patti at 11:59 PM