Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Martin is kinda popular. Yesterday, he got two pieces of mail. A postcard of a lighthouse from a school friend and a note from our pastor. He also had two buddies over. The three boys played for quite a while. For a long time, the two boys following Martin while they all chanted/yelled "From A to Z." A lot of people love Martin and want to play with him, even though he won't answer questions, doesn't play the games being played, and can be so weird. I sometimes wonder if it's because he is cute.

I think the tyranny of beauty rules over us in such bizarre ways. Sometimes, it's obvious. As I heard a commentator ask the other day, "Would we really be listening to Sarah Palin if she looked like Golda Meir?" We all hear about studies that show attractiveness benefits people in job interviews. I wonder if the acceptance Martin receives is aided by his cute little face?

Actually, I don't wonder. I know. I've seen it played out. And I'll complicate this statement by adding that beauty combines (insidiously) with class, education, and medical classification in this matter. Here's why I say this. I know a bunch of boys around Martin's age. Several of them have struggles ranging from physical, to developmental, to behavioural. I find that the community is more tolerant of the boys who are cute, have a diagnosis, and come from middle-class families. The boys who look a little rough, come from tougher homes, and have yet to have a doctor pay enough attention to them (even though I know some parents have tried to get them evaluated and have been turned away) get little in the way of patient love. People will openly state their frustrations with these kids, in essence blaming the kids for their own tough situations. I've heard people say that community events are easier when they are not around.

Sometimes, I try to interject. I say things like, "Well, let's cut him some slack. I know how hard it is for kids with troubles to live up to everyone's standards." But folks always want to tell me that Martin is different than those troubled, lower-class boys. They have actually said, "Martin's not like them." All I can say is "Yes, he is." Further, aren't we all like those boys? They're in our community so they are ours and we are theirs. Cute or not. From stable homes or not. Diagnosis or none at all.


  1. Jen - overall loving your blog. Prompted to write because I am CERTAIN that good looks is pretty much a med school entrance requirement. Life is so not fair like this. Thank you for saying "tyranny of beauty." -LaDene

  2. Amen and amen.

    Entirely true. Incidently, I think this puts an intolerable pressure on parents of children with disabilities to always have their kids look so immaculate. I also think there is an extra specil pressure amongst African Americans as well to have their children always be very well dressed and extra neat.

    This is an awesome blog!

    But, can we still gety your address?? :)

  3. What heidi said ...


  4. i'm hooked...loving your blog. I teach a 3-5 public school classroom for some wonderful little kiddies with autism in NC. the cute ones definitly get more positive attention from so many. sad, but very true.