Born this way (and proud of it)

Last evening I watched the debut of “Born This Way” on A&E.  When I learned there would be a reality show showcasing cast members with disabilities, I was apprehensive. The Real Housewives is a guilty pleasure of mine and no offense to Andy Cohen, I really did not want to see the first reality show that had Down Syndrome as the premise to be of the same caliber.

Persons who have intellectual disabilities spend their entire life defying expectations, limitations and stereotypes. I hoped that their first foray into reality television would not feed on stereotype but break the factors of discrimination.

A lot to request of a television show, I admit.

Watching the stories unfold, meeting the characters, I fell in love at episode one. The honesty of the parents of their struggles and dreams was present but not the focus. The focus was the friendship and interactions between the stars of Born This Way. Each person, so individual and unique, added depth to any conversation.

Elena-the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. Not afraid to tell someone they hurt her feelings or explain to you that she is more than Down Syndrome. When she tells you she says “I’m sorry a lot. It’s kind of my catchphrase” I am reminded of when I first met David and he asked me why I apologized all the time for things out of my control.

Megan-the girl who wants more than anything to be a movie producer. With her determination I have no doubt at her success. Megan was the star of “Don’t Limit Me” a PSA we used in our Challenge Month program at my children’s school. Watch below and be inspired to never place limits on yourself or your child.

John-the would-be rapper and total entertainer of the group.  He reminds me of my husband, always wanting to make people laugh and pointing out other people’s annoying habits (completely oblivious to his own!).  He reminded me of myself when it comes to trying new food. “The french fries were good” was my favorite line of their dinner.

Cristina-she is my personal favorite. Her compassion, her friendship and her dreams remind me of Abby. Cristina sees a friend hurting and tells them, you have a problem come to me. Solid in the knowledge that she can fix their problems for them. Quickly standing up for her friends and herself. Cristina believes nothing can stop her and neither do I.

(Rachel, Stephen and Sean, while visible on the premiere, were not explored in depth this episode. Based on how the first half of the cast were introduced, I cannot wait to learn more about them.)

I adored this show. I admire how the producers are showing these individuals as just that: individuals. Their dreams are so different from one another, but not different than any one else in the world. There will always be the girl who wants to get married, the boy who wants a girlfriend, the aspiring singer or actor.

Born This Way demonstrates that having Down Syndrome doesn’t mean your dreams are different or that a disability might stop you from achieving them.

I’m not sure if the goal of Born This Way is to fight the preconception and discrimination of those with intellectual disabilities.  I do hope every junior and senior high school plays this show for their students. So every child (and teacher) realizes that disability doesn’t define you. It is just a part of you.

Whether you have an extra chromosome, a cane, a communication issue or if you have brown hair or are tall.

It’s how you were born, not what you will become.

****

Born This Way airs on A&E on Tuesdays at 10pm. I was not compensated to write a review or endorsement. In all honesty, A&E doesn’t even know about this blog or contacted me in any way about their series.  However I will say if you and your family watch one show this week, watch Born This Way. 

 

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