"Elbows off the table" was a common phrase around my household. As my brother and I got older, we almost robotically reminded ourselves for the sake of avoiding irksome mother. Another common one was "no singing at the table," but the social contract that is politeness goes far beyond how comfortable you are in your seat or how much you need to repress your need to sing while at the table. A particularly uncomfortable area of politeness is when it comes illness. You don't stare at people in wheel chairs, you don't publicly ask someone with cancer about their illness, and you sure as hell try not to stare at a bigass mole on someone's face (it's happened to all of us.) All of these "rules" were taught to me as a child and none of them made any sense to me, or to any other child with an overbearing sense of curiosity for that matter. Why are we averse to talking about people's desieases? Is it maybe because we see a reflection of our own mortality in others? I believe that talking about desiease publicly is something that should happen more often.
Not ony does it seem counter-intuitive not pretend someone is not sick for the sake of politeness, but also because of the following: (
Why wouldn't we talk about something like EDS? There are hidden illnesses everywhere, and the only danger of talking about them is that sheltering suburban moms might take their kids to get more medical tests than before. Especially when it comes to illness, knowing is much better than not knowing. However, we don't talk about these things. We assume that anyone without any major physical deformities must be perfectly okay. We have been conditioned to believe the worst for anybody in a wheelchair or crutches, or even someone connected to an oxygen tank. We assume they are paralyzed, we assume they have broken their leg in four places, we assume that they may have been chronic smokers who are missing a lung. Whats worse is that we don't like to talk about it. "Kitten," makes a very good point that the reason is a large media stigma. I think it goes even further than that. Politeness is often what has lead me to remain in awkward silence around someone in a wheel chair, or someone hooked up to an oxygen tank. It's not because I don't like these people, or that I'm not curious. I was just raised that way, and I imagine that I am unfortunately not alone.
To conclude politeness is a double edged sword. It seems like all of the rules that are put forward by finishing schools everywhere could really be summed up into two categories for the average person. Firstly, don't be an ass. Secondly, try as hard as you can to not look like a pig. Simply acting like someone doesn't have a disability or pretending to ignore a visible deformity doesn't sound like "politeness" it sounds more like lying and ignoring the truth for the sake of manners. What is even worse, is assuming that someone who looks fine is entirely healthy. To conclude, the world remains to be a backwards place, but people like Kitten are a constant reminder to call 'em as I see 'em. Thanks Kitten.
Visit Kitten on her Youtube page where she talks a lot more about EDS and her daily life!