Beauty is an integral part of our everyday lives. For ages, philosophers have been wondering how to define beauty and ugliness. Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Maybe so. What exactly is the role of beauty in our images and perceptions of bodies? I think beauty is an experience. Nothing more or nothing less.
Which brings me to this: Seeing beauty through my eyes as a parent of a child with a disability. A chromosomal disability. In my case: Down syndrome. I never gave a second thought or had an opinion really, regarding anyone who had Down’s. Most all of the people who have Down’s, resemble one another. The almond shaped eyes, small ears, thick neck, and mouth shapes. Some have more pronounced features than others. I watched my daughter change over the years and to me, she is a beautiful angel. Yes, I am biased, but I think these children and adults have a unique beauty to them. They are beautiful people. Outer beauty and inner beauty.
Inner beauty is the love you feel from another person. There is an aura that encircles the person. That’s how I see Jenni. Her innocence and her being her emit inner beauty.
I have met some real ignorant people over the years concerning her and I have been saddened by comments, hurt by ignorant statements and angered as well. Ignorance is a state of being uninformed. When she was a month old, I recall my obstetrician telling Dennis and I that we could ‘Take her to Israel because they perform surgeries on these mongoloid children.’ What? I was actually speechless. He was suggesting that she was a hideous freak and society wouldn’t be kind to her. Was that what he was implying? I asked him and basically that is what he admitted. I thought the newborn in my arms was beautiful. She had the most creamy skin coloring, fuzzy dark blonde hair, a little round face and her eyes were a rounded almond shape, with the coloring of grey/green. As the years passed, I did run in to some very cruel individuals. Ugliness is a property of a person or thing that is unpleasant to look upon. To be ugly is to be aesthetically unattractive, repulsive, or offensive. I have come across many ugly minded people over the past 31 years. Ugly in their personalities. I’ve heard a mother tell her child ‘Don’t look at the retarded girl”, and another stranger say “She’d be prettier if her eyes were larger’, or this gem: ‘Oh is she a simpleton?” (like this is the 1920’s!)
With Jenni’s upcoming birthday approaching, I always reflect deeply over her life and my life as well. I say this every year and this year is NO different: She has made me who I am today. She has taught me tolerance, patience, seeing things differently about anyone not born ‘perfect.’ She has endured a lifetime of being a perpetual preschooler and knows nothing else. She has kept me young at heart because I have to deal day in and day out with a perpetual preschooler. She has known love from her family from the day she was brought into this world and she is a happy, well rounded young lady. I make sure I tell her each day, “you’re beautiful and amazing……just the way you are.”