Value Our Differences

We have so much media pressure to defy the ageing process and maintain eternal youth.

Models in magazines are airbrushed to look a size zero, with the promise that if we achieve this unattainable goal, we will meet our prince and live happily after. This is of course complete fantasy and one that has been blamed for a multitude of conditions in young women, bulimia especially.

So what are we doing to prevent this insanity which in spite of the bad PR, still reigns in our glossy magazines.

On the other hand, it is also propagated that we have moved on in so many ways. Those who are of a certain smaller than average height are no longer on display as circus freaks or referred to as midgets, and others with disabilities or conditions such as epilepsy are no longer shamefully locked away by their embarrassed parents at birth (it even happened in our Royal Family).

There was an issue this week with a female who had served in the Army for a number of years, and had suffered severe stress through exposure to terrifying events abroad. The Army had ignored her pleas of help as her mental state deteriorated, and refused to help her. So have we really made that much progress?

Our very own Idris Elba in parliament this week was speaking out about racism within the film industry. Fortunately, Idris has made his mark as the unforgiving Luther in the named series.  Let us hope that this penetrates the crusty walls of the walk of fame and will kick some grit in the faces of the offenders.

Turning the ‘freak show’ repulsion on its head, it would be good for you to google Actor and Presenter Adam Pearson, who suffers with the rare condition neurofibromatosis.  Adam journeyed across America to explore the world of freak shows for a new BBC3 documentary. His tales of meeting people who use their medical conditions to educate, entertain and make money, and to explain how his opinion on exploitive side shows has changed after meeting these extraordinary people.

Another great book for you to read is by campaigner Rosie Moriarty-Simmonds biography Four Fingers and Thirteen Toes, whose account of growing up in the fifties having been affected by Thalidomide, is both emotional and inspiring.

I was so happy to see the Thalidomide story was covered in this week’s Call the Midwife. Producers used Rosie Moriarty-Simmonds’ biography to help with the plot after she wrote to demand the BBC drama tackled the subject.

The issue of respecting our differences is a complex issue, and one that raises the question time and time again – how do we define normal? We would like to hear from you with any experiences or opinions on this emotive subject, after all it is now in our hands.

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