When Tarenne was a baby, probably 6 months old, we were at Cedar Point with Nike. We were sitting watching Darrah play and noticed a beautiful little blonde girl who had Trisomy 21. She was being cared for by a group of really good looking young adults, and they were clearly enamored of her. I only mention their extreme good looks because it pertains to how cute this little girl was and the rest of the story. I went over and talked to them and shared Tarenne with them. They were all precious and they were the little girl's brothers and sisters, I think there were four of them and a few friends.
About an hour later one of the girls found us walking through the park and ran to catch us because she wanted their father to meet us and see Tarenne. I was floored when he told me that they had been considering plastic surgery for the little girl! She was absolutely beautiful by anyone's standards, I could not believe it! He reasoned that she would be more accepted by others if she did not have the typical Down syndrome features.
I shared with him that I had actually prayed for Tarenne TO have the features because I thought it would make her life easier if people knew what to expect as they approach her. The last thing I want her to encounter is a prejudice person splaying their ignorance on her because they are not aware of her diagnosis. I had given this much thought because Tarenne's pediatrician had a son who has T21 and he had no physical features whatsoever. The family shared that they felt it actually made his life a bit harder.
I heard of this procedure a few other times when Tarenne was younger and each time my stomach turned. Then recently a new parent from another country posted on the Down syndrome list serv asking for information on plastic surgery. UGH!
This came right on the heels of my pondering elective surgeries for cosmetic purposes in general. With all of the reality shows and media coverage you can't miss our country's obsession with going under the knife. Our local wellness magazine just had a cover story on a local "total makeover" that a woman won. Her before and after shots were amazing and a little scarey. She did not even look like the same person. My heart broke for her children, who lost the mommy they knew and loved.
Why is it that our society places so much value on our outside appearance? It saddens me that women find their value in their looks. I have heard the excuse that it's because MEN are visual creatures and that women are doing it to please their spouses or to find a spouse. Aren't we supposed to grow up and grow in wisdom? I fully expect that Joe will find beauty in me beyond my body and my face. And if he doesn't I certainly don't bare the responsibility for that immaturity. That's like me saying, I'm bitchy and I can not change. Aren't I supposed to grow beyond my bitchiness? :) Shouldn't men grow beyond their need for visual tittilation?
And what are we teaching our children by our actions? I am the mom of four girls, I would feel like a failure if any of them wanted to change their appearance. It's our job as parents to instill confidence in them, to help them to appreciate and value all that they have been gifted with. It would break my heart if they felt that it was money well spent to have bigger boobs, or a face lift. Joe and I laughed when during my ponderings I came up with the visual of a Grandmother lying in her coffin with boobs sticking out of the top of the casket. It's just not the way it is supposed to be!
There is the bigger issue too of being a Christian in a shallow, secular world. There are many issues relating to this topic for me as a Christian. However the main one is trusting God as the creator! Would I dare meet him at heaven's gate and say, "Thanks for a great life, but geez you really messed up my nose". I trust His plan in what He endows us with as well as what He plans for our bodies as they age. I may not fully embrace my sagging breasts with glee, but hey I am proud that they come from feeding 4 babies, I would not have it any other way! His creations are astounding if we only trust in His sovereignty.
The other part of our country's obsession that really bothers me is the amount of money spent on vanity when people are starving in the world. Not just in far away places but right around the corner from most of us. Think of all we could do with the money used on plastic surgeries. There is the "buy a goat project" which could be funded for a few years, food shelters that could be stocked for a lifetime, Habitat houses that could be built...you get the idea. Who are we to place our bodies and looks above people's very existence?
And how, oh how, could a family place an innocent child under the risks of surgery to make them appear to be "typical"? I look at my beautiful daughter's face and thank God that he answered my prayer. My prayer was for her to have the characteristics of Trisomy 21 and to be beautiful. She does and is!
I remember looking at pictures of children who have Down syndrome while I was pregnant. I called Joe in many nights to sit with me and browse their photos. There was one little girl in particular who I would just sit and stare at. She had brown hair and big brown eyes and I thought perhaps that is who Tarenne would look like. I went on and on about how surely anyone would be able to see her beauty. Joe pointed out to me that he did not always look at people of other races and see beauty until we started dating. I would always point out beautiful people when we were out, and very often they would be of varying ethnicities. He told me not to be saddened when others did not have the same eyes that I have for people with Down syndrome or our daughter.
I don't want to believe that I am that unusual of a person. So if you happen upon my blog and you have not yet grown to see the true beauty in people who have Down syndrome, I urge you to let me take you on a walk just as my husband allowed me to do. Let me point their beauty out to you until your spirit and eyes grow in wisdom and you too can see beauty in our differences. Will you start here with me and look with open eyes? You would bless me to do so! Just click on this link: 350,000 reasons to walk