This is one of my favourite pictures of Karen. It was taken when she was ten years old. She is wearing the same dress she wore when we both appeared on television, arguing against cosmetic surgery for people with Down's Syndrome.
Cosmetic Surgery? No thanks!
I could never change your face
The face that tells a story
Let my fingers gently trace
Your features in their glory
Your eyes in shape and colour show
your great grandmother's eyes
which far away and long ago
Reflected Irish skies
Your nose is dainty and I'm glad
It's not as large as mine
The prominent nose of your grandpa
runs in the family line
When I look at your mouth and lips
Such memories come to me
of infant suckling, spoons and drips
And of speech therapy.
Your mouth that smiles and kisses too
(for you show great affection)
Your lovely face comes into view
You have a fine complexion
So I would never change that face
Some people think we should
They try to justify the case
That surgery is good.
The prejudice these people show
These bigots of "pure race"
Who ignorant, who nothing know
is hateful cruel and base
It's not a crime its not a sin
It's nothing you have done
To have that extra chromosome
That number 21.
By trying to make your tongue be small
and alter shape of eyes
They do not change your thoughts at all
Or alter height or size.
Instead it says "You're second class,
deformed, subnormal, cannot pass
Disfigured and defected"
I say in an emphatic tone
Downs Syndrome's part of you
I love you as yourself alone
your face I won't redo.
But most of all it is your life
I know it would cause pain
The scalpel blade and surgeons knife
would bring distress and strain
You would feel fear, it would be cruel
No benefit ensue
Without improvement or renewal.
No gain or help to you.
So I will never change your face
No surgery, no scar
Your beauty humour and your grace
Just stay the way you are
Poem written by Catherine Slater
Page created August 4, 1999