I wanted to write a brief answer to this question… I’m not so good at brief, but here goes.
It comes from more than one parent who beg to know: after your experience in the media, would you do it again?
My answer online was this:
If I had the choice, I would do it all over because the faces of our babes brings a normalcy people literally do not expect. I was attacked for the most part… And what was said against Addie was towards me and never to her. You HAVE TO PREPARE YOURSELF. From behind a computer screen, people can be ugly. They lose their humanity and compassion and have a false sense of power. No one controls you or your emotions. Be strong, know that what good comes from advocacy, true advocacy from the heart, will ALWAYS outweigh the negativity.
But it’s more than that. It’s the fact that I did bring change. The hundreds (thousands?) of people who made horrible comments didn’t change that. One mom. Me. I changed it. I made a video, I emailed it. I called to check up, was placed on hold, told change was made, and blogged about it. That’s it.
The threats, the harsh words, the emails, letters and comments- those didn’t come from me. They didn’t come from my community. They came from faceless screen names, behind hidden IP addresses. They came from people who left no return address, fake emails, dummy Facebook accounts, private profiles, and never-used YouTube accounts.
I will never be pleased that anyone saw Addie as exploited, which is why all of her images are watermarked on this site and why I will take legal action if her image is misused (no, that’s not a challenge, but I will protect my daughter). This site is for family to live life with us from their parts of the country, for friends to keep in touch, for people looking to read a bit of humor or a lot of sarcasm, for people looking to learn more about dwarfism, parenting and living on a really tight budget and an unlimited resource of love.
Seeing Addie’s face, her beautiful, but different, body- that’s not something I will hide. Her belly is full, her sleeves are rolled and her hats are 4T while her age is still under 2… but her smile, her bright eyes and her first steps? Those bring a normalcy to dwarfism. A human aspect. She’s not magical (well… not in that way, but she is to us as her parents). She does what all kids do- and some stuff they don’t, and she’s not. Sometimes we are forced into a role of “poster child”, and while I don’t wish this for Addie in a detrimental way, I do hope that people think of dwarfism and think “I know a kid with that, and she’s just like my kid, or sister, or cousin or neighbor.” There is nothing mysterious or scary about dwarfism, but there are changes that need to be made and advocacy work left to be done. I hope this face brings our community closer to the equality we so strive for.
As for the question… I’d do it all over again. And again. And again. Because the m-word in one less place is 1,000 more educated, aware, and compassionate people.