What gives people the right to think they can make personal comments based solely on the way someone looks. What makes people think they can talk about someone’s medical condition or disability in a disparaging way. What makes people think that physical appearance is so important? What makes people think that saying things like this is something they can do without being challenged? It’s horrible, it’s offensive and it needs to stop.
I was watching BBC Breakfast this morning and there was an item about an actor who happens to have psoriasis and he was talking about the time when he heard and audience member, sitting close to the front and well within earshot, saying to his companion that this actor’s skin was horrible and he hoped he wouldn’t catch anything. What made him think he could say this? What made him think he could get away with it? What made him think this was OK?
Recently I saw Changing Faces champion Adam Pearson taking on TV about much the same thing and it happens all the time. People seem to think that talking about disabled people and people who look different for some reason is fine. As a wheelchair user, I have heard parents telling their children to stay away from me in case they catch anything. I have news for people like this – we are not factory made fashion dolls so we are all the same, we are flesh and blood human beings and we are all different. That is one of the wonders of being human.
For some reason people are becoming more and more judgemental about others who are not exactly the same as they are and it is so wrong. Much of the blame for this must lie with the media. Every day we are being told and shown how we are supposed to look, what we should wear, what makeup we should use and how it should be applied. Dietary advice is on almost every page of celebrity gossip magazines. We all comment on whether or not our favourite film star or singer has gained or lost weight, ask they have a beauty secret and speculate about what that secret may be. This is preoccupation with how others look has been going on for eons. We talk about other other people all the time. We stare, and mention to one another, that the person on the other side of the road who is, to our eyes, too thin. We talk about the passenger who sat next to us on the bus who, in our opinion, was too fat. We query how the guy on the TV copes with hair that red and ask is it dyed? What gives us the right to say and do this? How would we like it if people talked about us like that? We we be happy? Its simple. We wouldn’t.
I am, of course, not saying that you can never say a friend or relative looks nice in their new outfit or that someone’s new shade of lipstick is lovely or tell them how pretty they are looking. Every day compliments like that are lovely and everyone likes being told they look good but, commenting adversely on something that is out of a person’s control, is horrible. If someone has a physical feature such as their height, their hair colour, their weight or a medical condition which makes them stand out for some reason, they probably know about it already. Commenting on it is not helpful. If someone is disabled, stepping back, crossing the road, pulling children away and suggesting that it might be catching is just unacceptable. I have news for unthinking people like that, if we had an infectious condition which is that obvious we are unlikely to be out and about in public. We would be in bed at home or in hospital under a doctor’s supervision not sitting in a restaurant, doing the shopping or watching a theatre production.
Stop talking about other people as though they are exhibits in a gallery. Stop treating people as if they are animals in a zoo. Ask yourself if you would like to be spoken about in that way or treated like that and then, if the answer is no, don’t do it. We are all different and those differences should be celebrated, not ridiculed. Have some consideration for others and think before you act or speak. It’s not hard and it doesn’t take long. Start today.