It's been a funny old week this week, I don't quite know what to make of it. The week was set out to be a miserable one, I think my last post personifies that, but it has sort of done a 360. So in keeping with this new found buoyant mood, and as a reward for sticking with me through the last downtrodden posts, tonight I bring you something lighter of heart.
I've written a very similar post to you before, see back to 'Bum's Biceps and Backward Compliments’, in which I've delved into the supercilious vocabulary of ill meant phrases that are said to people with disabilities. Nonetheless the one I present to you tonight, not only surpasses any lexical depths we have reached before but is highly deserving of its very own blog post.
May I present to you the ‘Awwwwww’ effect.
The ‘Awwwwwww’ effect is something that used to be reserved primarily for the likes of adorable baby animals or big doe-eyed toddlers, stumbling around like little drunk people. It’s unavoidable, your subconscious will see one of these heart melting images and almost as a reflex you are so paralyzed by it’s cuteness that the only legible sound to come out of your mouth is a high-pitched “Awwwwww!”.
However, I am not an immensely fluffy kitten nor am I a fuzzy haired, stumbling, miniature human being. Therefore, why, oh why, do some people still feel the utter compulsion to ‘aw’ at me? If someone could answer me this question I would forever be in your debt. If I had four legs a resembled a giant cotton wool ball I would understand; I have on numerous occasions found myself cooing over such a sight. On the contrary I am a self-sufficient, self-motivated, twenty-two year old and almost functioning adult; I do not need someone else’s unconsidered pity.
That is what an ‘aw’ implies; pity. Pity for what though? I don’t understand; because my legs don’t work properly? Well if you are the type of person who sees it fit to ‘aw’ a fully grown woman then clearly your basic reasoning doesn’t work properly either; so should I pity you as well? My legs may be a bit wobbly and my hand may be a bit questionable in the direction it points sometimes, but I can assure you my brain is not the same.
This is the conversational faux pas that I have come across most in my day-to-day life as a bonafide wobbly. It can happen at almost any invitation. Sometimes it’s in variation, the fawning ‘bless’ can be added for the ultimate degrade, or if someone is feeling really patronising a gentle pat is added for good measure. Nevertheless the sentiment is the same. I’ve become adept at spotting the potential culprits from a mile away. It’s the people who give you that smile that is meant to be warming but can often come across unnerving and a little ‘serial killer’. They seem to adopt the facial expression you only normally see when someone is confronted with a wounded animal; full or worry and angst but with the vain optimism they might just pull through. They might as well say “there, there, it can’t get any worse”… in fact I think they once have.
Whatever warning signs I may now notice it’s become apparent to me over the years that whether I am scaling the heights of Mount Everest (not likely) or doing my weekly shop (more likely), my life is undernoted by the sound track of ‘Awwwwww’.
Frankly it really pisses me off.
I have been told before, as an excuse I presume, that some people honestly believe people with disabilities like to hear ‘aw’ as it gives them encouragement. I can’t speak for every disabled person out there but let me tell you now, when someone uses the noise ‘aw’ to address me it makes me want to do nothing less than to place my indisputably spazticated hand directly into their face. It’s not an encouragement if anything it’s a condescendence. If I am suffering from a bad cause of women-esque ‘man flu’, then by all means I welcome your ‘aw’s’. Swiftly followed by a reassuring hug that I will not crawl up and die from a snuffley nose and a cough I swear is becoming border-line pneumonia; not to mention you to kindly bring me my body weight in chocolate to wallow in. If I am however doing something simple as being out in public or, say, just getting on with my life, I urge you to reconsider. After all I can assure you there is nothing endearing nor sweet about an over-weight, over-perspiring exercise novice huffing her reddened self around the gym, as some lady seemed to think today; in fact it’s quite unsightly.
So if you are a victim to the use of the ‘Awwwwww’ effect, next time please reserve your ‘aw’. Not for the girl in the wheelchair doing her weekly shop, or the guy with a prosthetic leg just out having a drink with his friends but for something really worth it.
Because surely when faced with a micro pig eating ice-cream or a puppy that is so fluffy you think your brain might combust from the sheer cuteness it radiates, your ‘aw’s’ are truly wasted...