I tend to avoid writing on here when something is particularly upsetting to me. I might come back after a day or two to address what happened, when I am more calm and able to tell it in a funny or otherwise not angered way. Today, I cannot do that.
I rarely use my blog to "address" things. But something got called to my attention last night on Facebook that I simply CANNOT ignore. I can't wait and let myself calm down about it. It's something that NEEDS to be addressed, now.
In case you haven't seen what I'm about to go on a tirade about, well, here it is...
It is from New York Magazine. They commissioned several cartoonists to make caricatures of Lady Gaga. Most were typical - make her look like some kind of alien, robot, superhero. Why THIS particular artist (Tim Hensley) chose to illustrate her with a cleft lip is BEYOND me.
I first saw this last night. I didn't click on the image link when it appeared on my Facebook page, as I felt that the picture itself was offensive enough. I made the mistake of clicking on it this morning. Yes, the image is offensive. But even more so, is the caption that the artist felt necessary to include. Really? REALLY? "Birth defect through elective surgery"?????? First of all, it CAN'T be a birth defect if elective surgery created it. Secondly, we, as parents of cleft children, watch our children struggle SO MUCH with the surgeries to repair this and you are going to glamorize it? This isn't even TOUCHING on my feelings about the phrase of "birth defect" (I've said it before, and I'll say it again... My child is NOT defective.)
I know people speak before they think. It happens. I expect THAT. This. Well, there just aren't words strong enough for my distaste of this. This is something that took time. And thought. And planning. And never once, along the way, did it occur to you, Mr. Tim Hensley, that THIS was a BAD idea???????????? This isn't some fictional scenario. People, children, are born, daily, with this condition. A condition that requires numerous surgeries, starting as young in some cases as SIX WEEKS OLD. Six weeks! And you are going to make a cartoon out of it? Our children face enough bullying and ridicule in this world, without taking in to consideration their clefts. You, sir, have opened the door for even MORE opportunity for ridicule. My daughter does not have a cleft lip. She has a cleft palate. But we are all one community, and I know I speak for many when I say "SHAME ON YOU." Seriously, for shame. To glamorize, to bring down, to ridicule, to make a joke out of what our children face every single day - the stares, the whispers, the surgeries, the pain, the scars... I don't know your situation, sir. I don't know what lead you to believe that this was somehow an appropriate thing to do. But I can tell you that in all the cleft groups I belong to, there is an almost universal outcry of outrage over this. That alone should tell you something.
I certainly hope that New York Magazine takes a step back to reflect on this. I hope Tim Hensley reflects even more. And then, I hope, that they issue an apology, an explanation of why he drew it and why they allowed it to go to publication - even if only online - and then I hope they do something productive, something POSITIVE, to highlight cleft awareness and what our children face daily. Do NOT minimize this. Do NOT push it under a rug. We demand respect, for everyone who faces life with cleft.