I have to mention a fabulous post by Carly. Carly is the author of the blog Tune into Radio Carly and is a big appearance advocate. This post is about how a stranger should approach someone who has a visibly different appearance or disability. Carly, now an adult has encountered many different stranger interactions; some positive and some negative experiences. This post is a must read and SHARE since there are many people out there that do not know how to politely apporach someone who is "different".
As Evan is only approaching 3 yrs old we have only had a few bad interactions with the public. One being very awkward, uncomfortable and a huge invasion of privacy. I am still learning how to deal with strangers, especially the rude ones. One thing that does get VERY annoying, especially in the summer, is the assumption that Evan is sunburnt and then the disgusting "relief" the stranger feels when I say "No, he was born with a severe skin disorder." First of all, if an adult actually thought I would leave my baby out in the sun to burn (on a rotisserie spinner no less) that is nothing but pure ignorance. I don't think I have EVER seen someone with such a perfect sunburn so I find it hard to believe that others can actually think it is possible. In any case I would never be rude, stare, or ask questions before saying hello, if I was curious. Unfortunately that ignorance is out there.
I try to stay positive and polite (for the most part) with these interactions. Most people say hello first and then ask the question. Those who start off with questions or odd looks without a polite greeting, irritate me. It is human nature to be curious but it should come with manners and respect for those in question. Now, I think it is easier for others to approach us since Evan is a baby. But I wonder what the encounters will be like when he's 8 or 15 or 25.
Like Carly said, a hello is a better way to start off. Please read her post and share it so others can become aware and learn how to be a bit more respectful when approaching someone who has a visibly different appearance or disability. Avoiding eye contact can be just as bad....
Dinner in NYC with Carly, my cousin Kara & Carly's mom Jeanette
And as humans are curious, my cousin has Alopecia. Alopecia is an autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair. Kara has been through some obstacles herself during childhood and with strangers. She definitely can relate to this post. Having a "different" appearance from the norm can make social situations difficult at times. But like most who look visibly different, she has a "thick skin" and a strong positive personality. I LOVE HER!!!!! Learn more here: http://www.naaf.org