(photo of Valentina Guerrero, a ten month old girl with down syndrome, modelling a pink bathing suit)
We were in a line up in a grocery store when I saw it. I stopped writing this blog for over an hour to search for what I'd seen. I couldn't find it with any certainty. It was one of those magazines that they have for you to browse and hopefully buy while waiting to pay. Not one of the kind that tells weird stories about Aliens Addicted to Arrowroot Cookies. The kind that has endless information about celebrities co-mingled with other newsy kind of stories. I noticed, because my eyes were drawn to it by an irresistible force, the bottom corner of a cover, the headline above a picture Down Syndrome Baby Model. The photo above, I believe is the little girl who was at the center of the story in the magazine.
Even though I'm not completely convinced that 'people first' language is always the right thing to do. I don't, for example, mind being referred to as a disabled guy, because, I suppose, I am. Like I don't expect people to say, 'Dave is a person who is gay,' so why should I insist that my disability be put behind my personhood - aren't both obvious. All this was running through my head, I was trying to figure out what language should have be used in the headline, what response there should be to the headline, should concern be expressed. All this mixed up and muddled inside of me, so much so that I didn't notice a slim arm reach past me to take the magazine off the shelf.
Two women, maybe in their early twenties, were exclaiming about how beautiful the baby was. They flipped through the magazine to see the other pictures. They waxed poetic about the baby's smile and how beautiful she looked in this picture or that. I listened to their chat. They weren't talking about the political importance of 'framing' the headline, they were talking, instead, about the pictures ... in fact the picture framed their conversation. They said a few things about being surprised at her beauty and how well loved she looked. As they talked the baby, her existance, her pictures, her value, entered into their words.
Suddenly I didn't care about the headline.
I cared about the work this little beauty, this little revolutionary, who takes her place, and because she does, makes change - no matter how you word it.