#HowDoYouSeeMe

A new video has been released for World Down Syndrome Day, and it’s got people talking. A lot of people absolutely love it…and then some people absolutely hate it. Here, why don’t you watch it and see what you think?

What do I think? Well, I fall in the middle. I don’t hate the video, but it also doesn’t sit quite right with me. I first saw it a few days ago, and I’ve been mulling it over since.

I’ve realized that I like the idea behind it—that the young woman with Down syndrome sees herself doing everything anyone else can do. But I don’t care for the execution—specifically, I don’t care for the fact that it kind of erases the young woman’s Down syndrome from the picture. The video implies that she doesn’t see herself with Down syndrome—in fact, she sees herself as looking like the gorgeous Olivia Wilde. It is only at the very end that the camera turns to the woman herself, and we see her as she really is.

The message is clear: I see myself as not having Down syndrome and being this gorgeous, amazing person; you see me as a young woman with Down syndrome. And I agree—people probably do see her as a young woman with Down syndrome. But I find it so sad that the video implies that when the woman envisions her happy, perfect life (okay, nothing’s perfect, but she envisions a pretty darn good life!), she takes away one thing that is such a big part of who she is.

I think we all envision our perfect life with some changes; I envision myself much thinner, for example. But my weight is something I can change, and Down syndrome isn’t something that can be changed. So it makes me sad to think that in the woman’s perfect life, she wouldn’t have something that is always going to be a part of her.

When I think of Sam in the future, I hope that he will be happy with himself and his life as he is. It would hurt my heart to think of him wishing away something that he cannot do anything about and something that is such a big part of who he is. And honestly, I think it would set him up for disappointment, which I don’t want to see for him.

I mean, we all have things we would change about ourselves. In my perfect world, I would change my fear of the opposite sex. I am incredibly intimidated by men, and I always have been—they make me very nervous, and I completely clam up around them unless they’re someone I know well. That is something I would love to change, but it’s as much a part of me as anything, and I think it probably always will be. So if I spent my time imagining myself as some sort of confident, gorgeous woman who could easily engage with men, I think I’d be sorely disappointed with my real life because I’d never be able to live up to that image in my head.

I don’t want to think about that for Sam. Let’s take that Olivia Wilde video and turn it into a male. Let’s say Sam was the young man with Down syndrome, and he envisioned himself as…oh, who’s an incredibly gorgeous blond male celebrity? Charlie Hunnam! I’m not generally attracted to blonds, but I find Charlie Hunnam to be a rather magnetic, gorgeous blond. (And in my dream world, my fear of men goes out the window and I can talk to Charlie Hunnam just fine, thank you very much!)

Charlie Hunnam. He's really, really lovely, isn't he?
Charlie Hunnam. He’s really, really lovely, isn’t he?

So let’s say Sam envisioned himself as Charlie Hunnam. That would make me sad, because Sam is never going to be Charlie Hunnam. Charlie Hunnam is a lovely specimen with 46 chromosomes, and Sam will always, always have 47 chromosomes. So then I feel as if Sam’s real life might be a disappointment to him—he would never measure up to the image in his mind.

I don’t want that for Sam. I want Sam to love himself for who he is and everything that comes with it. Because like all of us, he is perfectly imperfect just the way he is, and he doesn’t need to be anything else.

So back to that #HowDoYouSeeMe video. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. I wanted the lovely young woman with Down syndrome to see and love herself as she is.

But I did see another video—a rebuttal of sorts—that I really liked. Watch it and see what you think!

Wonderful, isn’t it? This young woman is telling us that she sees herself doing all the things everyone else does, but she never loses sight of the fact that she is beautiful and amazing just as she is.

That’s what I want for Sam.

 

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