What is wrong with this baby?

My 13 year old daughter was very premature. She came home from the hospital weighing less than 5 lbs. She was pretty scary looking at first – bulgy crossed eyes, and way, way too small to seem normal. What I hated was having people STARE. Not kids, but grown up people who ought to have better manners. Then after staring for a bit they would pop out with, “What’s wrong with it?” Not her, although I always dressed her girly; not even the baby. It. Pissed off, I would cold-shoulder the offender. Now, after the passage of 13 years I can look back and realize that these idiots were probably just ignorant.

Here is a manners lesson: treat a disabled baby just as you would a normal one. Find a feature you can comment on favorably and comment on it. “Wow, look at all that red hair!” or “What a smile!” or even, “Oh, how tiny!” The parent might just smile and say, “Thank you.” OR they might freely give you some details. That’s what I usually did. Something like this:

Stranger: “Oh, how tiny!”
Me: “Yes, she was premature – she only weighed 2 1/2 lbs.”
Stranger: “Really? I hope she’s ok now.”
Me: "Yes… ::launching into conversation about prematurity and complications::

Then, the stranger could tell his friends, "Gee, I met a preemie and her mom today. The little girl was so tiny! Did you know…::launching into facts and figures provided by me earlier that day::
Instead of: “Gee, I saw a really fucked-up baby today. I wonder what was wrong with it?”

Jess- fantastic post. Way to combat ignorance!

Thank you.

I agree totally. Mothers (or fathers) need to provide as much information as possible in situations like this - it’s the only way.

Strangely enough, this thread was precipitated by Homer’s lack of information. Whether the photograph in question is on display for the wrong reasons or not I can see no reason why it can’t be accompanied by informative text which would provide some sort of context. It’s because those sorts of photos are displayed out of context that so many people object to them isn’t it? If that picture was on display in a medical museum, for instance, it would be perfectly all right.

Well mothers and fathers need to provide as much info as they are able to provide at that point in time. I sometimes get waaaaaaaaaay fed up providing explanations as to why my 3 yo behaves in the manner that he does. But I in general do agree with your point.

Yeah my major objection to the link was the context of the photo. That photo was not put up with the intention of education - if it were, there would be some text with it. The photo is there to shock and to amuse. That’s pretty unlikely to be done with the consent of the parents. That kind of a photo (if it were real which I am perfectly happy to concede it probably isn’t) would not have upset me at all if it had been on a medical site or on a parenting site with the aim of educating and communicating. I don’t have any difficulty discussing still birth and genetic problems - I do have a huge problem with photos of babies being treated as a freak show.

I don’t think photos which are used without the consent of the parents are OK though. I would give consent for the use of photos of my son in an appropriate setting. I would be devastated to find photos used without my consent though.

Well, I’m not going as far as this. My child does not exist to fulfill the curiosity of idle onlookers. That said, I do usually answer politely posed questions. And, now that my daughter is old enough to speak for herself, she does the same. However, it is certainly not my (or her) duty to do so. Any more than it is your duty to answer idle questions from strangers about any of your own personal visible quirks.

Stranger: Excuse me, Sir, I couldn’t help noticing the enormous zit on your forehead. Are you planning on doing something about it? And, if so, what?

I will admit that visibly disabled people like my daughter (BTW, she is no longer scary looking. She is very pretty, but does have CP and walks with crutches) attract more attention than the average person. And, like many disabled people, she doesn’t mind answering politely posed questions in the interest of helping able-bodied people to understand and feel comfortable with the disabled. Nonetheless, this is a personal choice. Some people don’t like engaging in conversation with strangers ever, and others who may occasionally enjoy one of these educational conversations don’t always feel like it – because they’re busy, or tired, or ill, or just feeling anti-social. Again, it’s a personal choice.

As for the OP – I didn’t click on the link, so I can’t comment on the baby (or faux baby) in the picture. However, I feel comfortable in saying that, like Primaflora and others, I am disgusted by it. This picture was not posted for educational purposes, it was posted for prurient ones. And that is disgusting.

That is correct. It was posted on Stile Project for prurient purposes. It was posed and posted by me for educational purposes. I shall reiterate: I just wanted to know what was wrong with the poor baby.

–Tim