When I was 7 years old, I wanted a prosthetic arm. My doctors showed me incredible prosthetics that could glow in the dark and even hold a golf club or car keys. I was amazed by these prosthetics with neat designs and functions, but I did not want one of these impressive prosthetics. I wanted a skin colored arm that I could slip on over my own arm. Why? All I really wanted was the opportunity to walk around a store without people staring at me.
At 23 years old, I still haven’t received what I really wanted. I still notice people staring at me every time I’m in public. Now that I’m an adult, I smile and occasionally wave when I notice people staring at me. I want the people who stare at me to know that they have been caught.
As a child, I would pretend that I couldn’t see someone staring because I didn’t want to confront the issue. But now, I often remember what my mom said to me many years ago when I refused to tell on mean kids. “Lindsey, if you don’t say something, then they are going to keep doing it. They may even do it to someone else.”
She’s correct. It’s time to step up and do something about staring. Here’s what you can do: Stop it when you see it. If someone that you know or love is staring at another person, say something. Ask or tell them to stop staring. No one – regardless of race, gender, age, or disease/disability – deserves to be stared at because they look different than you.Instead of staring at those who look a little different, make intentional eye contact with them and smile. Greet them with kind and encouraging words.With a small gesture like a smile or compliment, you can encourage someone that is often discouraged in public.