Pretty is as Pretty does

June 19, 2009 Kyron No Comments

This week and next we’re getting ready for Katherine’s participation in the Mr. & Miss Special Henry County Pageant. She’ll be competing in the teen division. We have the obligatory new dress and new peek-a-boo toe shoes (yup two pairs – thanks Zappos for having them on sale!). We had a *process* done to our hair to straighten out the curls for a few months (mom likes this one – while our Instyler has made life much better I don’t need to add hairdresser to my full-time resume) and we’re excited about the next Saturday morning when you can find mother and daughter getting manicures and pedicures (ok, I’m gonna skip the pedi) and then Katherine will get her updo and become the glamour queen we already know her to be icon smile Pretty is as Pretty does

All this beauty for the outside but as I constantly remind her it won’t matter a bit if her behavior doesn’t reflect the beautiful young lady we can see on the outside. Unfortunately I think it may be a lesson I’m the only one out there teaching my children. Increasingly treating people poorly seems to be acceptable if not downright in vogue.

I read a blog posting today that a childhood friend of mine shared on her facebook page. Click here and take a moment to read it for yourself. It’s absolutely worth the read – well written and makes a point I don’t think anyone thinks of enough these days.

This post focuses on treating service people with respect – not talking on your cellphone while conducting business being its jumping off point. Saying Please and Thank You to your waiter/waitress, making eye contact with a manicurist or hairdresser….and absolutely – I agree! However, while I agree with the important point she was making about treating these people who perform duties that make all of our lives a little bit better, I thought it stopped one point short that we’d all do better if we treated EVERYONE with respect.

Too often I’m reminded of this because I see how people look at Katherine, talk about her as if she’s not even there when she’s sitting at the table next to her, or worse yet, ignore her as if she does not matter. As if because she is not the *same* as them she is somehow lower on the totem pole of life (the part that is buried in the ground). When is it that it became ok to treat ANYONE with less than the same dignity that you expect yourself?

Sure that’s a rhetorical question. Throughout history people have been treated with less dignity than they deserve. History is rampant with it. Native Americans, slaves, the holocaust – or any or the more recent genocides. These are just a small sampling. Treating individuals without dignity continues to be an acceptable practice. It’s probably more acceptable with the disability population than with any other in the world – it’s probably one place that countries could find commonality. Think about it….its ok call people “retard” “idiot”. It’s ok to look away at a person who is in a wheelchair. It’s ok to place people in an institution because it’s “easier” than helping them lead productive lives as a part of the larger society.

I couldn’t agree more that we need to treat people with dignity, but stopping at service people (which for the record are notoriously treated like crap – a true travesty) is really just several steps short. Grandma Murphy always told me pretty is as pretty does. and it’s completely true and unfortunately apparent that too many people didn’t have enough exposure to Grandma and if they did – they’ve forgotten the lesson or failed to pass it on to their progeny. Most of you reading this are parents of at least one special needs child. You get treating your own child with dignity is important. You may also extend that to all people with dignity. How do you treat the people you meet every day? Your landscaper? Your mailman? The custodial staff at your office? The lady at the dry cleaners? The stranger struggling to get their groceries in the car while wrangling a 3 year old (oops – that was me) Teaching children isn’t as much about telling them how to treat others as it is MODELING the behavior you believe is appropriate and acceptable.

Everyday holds an opportunity to lift someone up, give someone a smile. A simple hello and a kind look may be all it takes. Think of how beautiful you’ll look. Most days, my daughter is the most beautiful young lady on the planet. Not because of her straightened hair, her manicured nails or gorgeous coral halter-top dress but because she never fails to treat everyone as if they are the most important person on the planet. How much we could all learn from her!

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Categories : Advocacy

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