“About Faces and Down Syndrome” talks about the unnecessary cosmetic surgeries done on children with Down Syndrome solely to look “normal”. It’s interesting to see how the appearance of “normal” can mean more than other characteristics and physiological problems associated with the disorder. It’s also done to increase the resemblance to the rest of their family members. There are other syndromes that can also have physical appearances that some parents want to correct on their kids. This, of course, talks about the way we see and judge people that look different and that we identify as having a disorder. There’s even the informal medical acronym of AFLK, a funny looking kid, which explains this judgment. Our definition of what is ugly also comes from the dysmorphophobia as explained in the article where, as a society, we’ve attributed certain features to look normal and/or beautiful. This reminded me of our previous reading on intersex children and the violent, invasive surgery that was justified as being “medical” when it was really about keeping the gender binary in child that biologically questioned that. Another similarity of the cosmetic surgery on Down Syndrome children and intersex kids is that they are too young to realize they look/are different. The decision is made by the parents and doctors with the belief that the trauma of looking “other” will affect the kids when they’re older. This borders the talk of eugenics and how problematic that could be as it’s historically been tied to white supremacy. This, of course, has had real life impacts from colonization to institutional racism. It also related back to the article we read, “Politics of Whiteness” and when the “other” is included in whiteness but is limited by whiteness as well. The disabled Miss America is probably the closest example that relates to this article as her narrative was also framed around whiteness. It’s interesting to see how race plays a factor even in the classification of disorders by doctors. It also made me think about what we refer to as “special needs” when we talk about disabled people or those with disorders. The link below is a funny twist of what Down Syndrome individuals consider special needs and make us think that at the end of the day, we all need basic things. This language of “othering” people with disabilities or disorders is seen in almost all parts of society.
-By Aldana Cardich