Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby.Posted: May 23, 2013
Yeah, LP is the ripe old age of six months, and I’m ready. It’s totally time, don’t you think?
I came across this fellow. Google translate completely failed at telling me anything about this guy other than his name is Renan and the pictures in the link were from a shoot they did. Something about a calendar, a queen, and an astral warrior. I suspected that Google’s Portuguese is not as good as it thinks. Anyways. After seeing the pictures, my first reaction was, holy crap, I didn’t know there were young adult models with T21, how freaking awesome.
So. I’d originally seen his picture on the International Down Syndrome Coalition’s Facebook page. I clicked on the picture and see this comment:
Handsome young man…but I am saddened to see someone exploiting him that way…regardless of chromosomes, kids (Nor adults!) shouldn’t be posing as sexy and selling themselves based on appearance. I would expect as much from Abercrombie…but not IDSC! :((
Well, huh. I’m not a huge fan of modelling in general, I see that there are clear issues with selling the image of your body to sell an item, a brand, or an idea. I get that. If any of my kids wanted to model, I probably wouldn’t jump all over it, like say, if they chose to go to medical school and find a cure for cancer. Maybe that’s wrong, but yeah, that is how I feel.
But… what’s the real point, the messed up world, or that this young man is getting a shot at participating in our messed up world? I recently just read a great piece about the lack of disability representation in body positivity campaigns. The article basically questioned the still narrow view of beauty, suggesting that there is more to beauty than what the non-disabled body can encompass. In the end, the writer wonders out loud, wouldn’t it be great if we were all beautiful, aren’t we all enough, simply because we are living human beings? I’d wholeheartedly agree. It doesn’t matter to me that he is putting his image out to a world that has some broken ideas, it is that he is out in the world, just as he is.
Yes, we can debate about modelling. We can debate about modern sexuality. We can debate about our image-obsessed society. I think those are all valid issues, I do, but does it take anything away from the fact that this guy is out there, looking like any other teen heart throb, extra chromosome and all? I don’t think it does.
Then we come to the question of whether or not the pictures were sexually exploitative, I’m just not seeing it. Exploitation to me would be an abusive, unethical use of his image. I mean, it isn’t like the dude is greased up, standing in some lewd position. Yeah, some of his pictures are somewhat suggestive, but isn’t sexuality a part of human beauty?
Sexuality of that kind is not appropriate in a sixteen-year-old, you might say. Is that so? Most sixteen-year-olds are fully in the throes of their budding human sexuality. That’s just part of the deal. Is it so wrong for a kid to express a little bit of that? And by a little, I really mean a little. I did not find his images to be over the top. What I saw were images of a handsome young man, budding sexuality and all.
I loved that.
I loved it because it seems like all I see are pictures of cute babies. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some cute babies. I think I happen to have one of those cute babies. But one day, my cute baby is going to grow up into a teenager. He might even think about sex (gasp). He might even have a sexual relationship (double gasp). He might run around with his shirt off, and someone might find him attractive. Yeah. Seriously.
Here’s the thing, I want that for him. I want him to experience his own sexuality. He may grow up with an intellectual disability, but I don’t see how that precludes him from partaking in the universal human experience. Love and sexuality are a huge part of that human experience.
I don’t know what is in the cards for my children. We all struggle to find the right kind of love and companionship. We live in a flawed world, and the flawed ways in which we see sexuality is no doubt important. I don’t know all the answers to those questions, but I do know that LP has no hope of finding his path towards love and companionship as an adult unless he feels included in the world, flawed may it be.
In fifteen years, if LP flips through a teen mag and sees a picture of Renan, I don’t think I’ll be upset at all. Not at all.