A few hours ago I saw on MSN the report that MP Tanya Plibersek had said on a radio interview that MP Peter Dutton looks like Voldemort from Harry Potter.
She told the announcer, 'I think there'll be a lot of children who've watched a lot of Harry Potter films who'll be very frightened at what they're seeing on TV at night. That's for sure '
When the radio announcer asked for further clarification, Plibersek added, 'He looks a bit like Voldemort and we'll see whether he can do what he promised he'd do when he was last running for leader which was smile more.'
The West Australian newspaper got on the bandwagon and published an image of Peter Dutton as Voldemort on its front page because Mark McGowan, the premier of Western Australian, labelled Peter Dutton an extremist.
Now this has hit a raw nerve with me! Why you may ask, as we know it's just politicians sledging each other, and putting each other down, as politicians are well known for? Well, because I was born with a craniofacial syndrome, called Crouzon syndrome, which meant that my face didn't form properly and I looked distinctly different growing up until my final reconstructive surgery in 1985.
In 1977 someone like me, though milder in symptoms, was called 'grotesquely deformed' by the Australian Women's Magazine.
Growing up, I was called names about my face on a daily basis - goggly eyes, Frankenstein, Elephant Man, Freddy Krueger and so on. I was also rejected, stared at, pointed at, ignored, physically bullied and thought of as being intellectually disabled. People didn't judge me on my personality or my achievements or my Christian faith - they judged me on my face - my outward appearance.
Did this affect me? Damn right it did. I spent my childhood feeling rejected by society. Society told me that I wasn't good enough because I didn't have a normal face. Society told me that I must be a villain like the Hollywood movie characters. Society told me that I was less of value because I had a facial difference. And because of these negative messages I constantly received, I developed some very unhealthy traits and two personalities. I spent every day trying to prove to the world that Jenny Collins was a valuable human being who had the right to be alive and be out in society - not stuck away at home in the cupboard as was suggested to my parents.
I went on to have two children in the 2000s who also have my syndrome, plus a child with Down syndrome, and I've had to watch the same negative stereotypes forced onto them all by society. A society that still likes to criticise and judge people's facial appearances. A society that holds facial beauty and a symmetrical face that smiles, in high esteem and on a pinnacle. A society that is shallow.
Personality and being able to do a great job at running an organisation, or a country, is not derived by one's facial appearance. It is one's morals, one's values, one's treatment of others, one's integrity; and one's ability to respect, to lead, and to get along with others that is important.
Tanya Plibersek was reprimanded by Anthony Albanese, our new prime minister and she apologised to Peter Dutton. This was great but the whole scenario has brought to the surface the issue of saying that people with facial differences or disfigurements are evil or villains.
This whole comment of Plibersek's that Peter doesn't smile much has also angered me too. I have friends who cannot smile due to facial palsy and Bell's palsy. Does that make them villains? There are people with autism who often do not smile. Are they villains? There are people who have been burnt and cannot smile. Are they villains? And if someone does look similar to Voldemort, does that make them a villain?
My goodness me. I am shaking my head and my blood is boiling.
Wake up to yourself Tanya Plibersek and others who sledge people's facial appearances. We cannot help how our faces look and nor should it matter.
Let us look past the outward face and into the important facts about a person. Are they nice? Are they kind? Do they respect others? Do they do a good job at their employment? Do they have integrity? Are they honest? Do they have good morals and values? Will they help someone in need?
We are in 2022 now and there are way way way more important things to judge a person on. Politicians it would be fantastic if you could lead the way!
For more about my life see these news stories:
(c) Jenny Woolsey 2022
Be Weirdly Wonderful! Embrace your disability and differences