I already posted today, and I hope you don't miss it...but I just received an email about an amazing article at Thriving, Children's Hospital Boston's pediatric health blog. I asked for permission to re-post it here, and I hope you will go and leave a comment on Thriving's blog as well.
Some of you might remember a previous article at Thriving that inspired this photo montage. I am feeling inspired again :)
Please read this article, and see my request below.
Mock my pants, not my sister
by Childrens Hospital Boston staff on July 18, 2011
The following was written by Brian Skotko , MD, MPP, a Physician at Children’s Hospital Boston’s Down Syndrome Program. It’s in response to a feature in GQ magazine that used insensitive language.
Brian Skotko and his sister, Kristin
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.
So if you are a parent or a sibling of an individual with Down syndrome, and you would like to submit a photo for my montage, here's the deal.
Please send me a photo of you sporting a "unique" outfit (such as Dr. Skotko is wearing) alongside your loved one with Down syndrome. I think we can send fitting a message to GQ and other media outlets who choose to take the low road when addressing Down syndrome in our culture.