A Person is a Person. Period!!!!
On Sunday, May 3rd 2015 I was shopping with hubby at Hill Road, Bandra. It was a warm and humid Sunday afternoon and it was very very unpleasant. (There is a reason for providing much detail about the temperature and humidity). I walked passed ELCO, then Gitanjali Arcade and then Reliance trends. As I passed by Reliance Trends their marketing gimmick for the weekend compelled me to stop and look at the store. Great marketing! one would say. But wait till you read the rest. What I saw appalled me to the spine. I had tears in my eyes while my face was red with anger. I saw a pair of little people dressed in circus costumes inviting passing shoppers into the store. They were made to stand outside the store on a warm and unpleasant afternoon while the designer of the marketing stunt lounged in his A/C office. One of them even had an orthopaedic issue in the legs.
I was shocked that a brand like Reliance could pull such an insensitive marketing stunt. Who were they trying to attract? Entertainment starved children of the early 90s, who found amusement in the humiliation of little people by watching them perform acts of self- deprecation, dressed is frills and bows with swollen red noses? Marketing Manager of Reliance Trends, fortunately gone are those days. The scarcely populated circus theatre stand witness to that.
Instead of attracting me as a shopper, all this insensitive act did was attract my disgust and dismay. I was so angry that I was shaking. I walked away as I couldn’t stand it any longer. A few seconds later I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had just witnessed. I felt compelled to do something about it. So I decided that I would write about this and invite people’s views. I thought, perhaps the way I look at it may not be consistent with the views of majority, because people were walking into the store and pointing at the pair and smiling (however, not one person offered them a bottle of water or a snack, including me). I asked my husband to take a picture of the ‘victims of humiliation’ (yes, that’s what I will call them). Even though we took the picture to create awareness about the humiliation, discrimination of the little people, I walked away as hubby took the picture because I didn’t want the pair to feel like I was objectifying them by taking a picture as a source of future amusement.
Some would say that the pair willingly took up the job and were paid for it. But ask yourselves what is willingness without choice? Isn’t it compulsion? What opportunities has our society created for little people, if not self –deprecating jobs? Why do we compel them to work in circuses, birthday parties, as tools of amusement. Why can’t we offer them jobs as sales people, at the cash counters, at banks, in any mainstream industry/professional for that matter. The height of a person says nothing about his/her intelligence, sincerity and ability to work hard. I will be surprised that even today little people cause amusement rather than empathy. If that is the case then I feel we haven’t evolved emotionally and culturally as people.
PS: ‘Little Person/People’ is the most politically correct term to use for people with dwarfism. I use it all over my article for reference so that the readers understand the context. However The term still has a condescending cuteness to it and hence should go out of fashion in my view. Why not just called them ‘People’. A person is a person no matter how small – Dr. Seuss