It’s Not About The Pickles

If you live in RI (unless you live under a rock) you have heard about “the Crazy Pickle Lady”
If you haven’t you can read about her story HERE

She took it upon herself to get the word “Midget” removed from the label on the smaller, gerkin style of Cains Pickles. AND….She was successful!

Well, her name is Chelley, and she is not crazy. She’s also my friend. Her daughter, Addie is Avery’s friend.

Since the story broke, all the local newspapers and news stations have picked it up. Ive been following along, and reading HUNDREDS of comments on the story. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube….they are all on fire talking about Chelley.

The majority of the comments are not very nice. In fact, some are downright disgusting, cruel and evil.  Of course there are the positive comments, the supportive and compassionate comments, but those get responded to in nasty ways as well.

Chelley is being attacked in every way. Many think she is “crazy, sue happy, looking for attention…etc”   The thing is, none of those are true. This isn’t about money.  This isn’t about pickles.

This is about education, and bullying. This is about a mother, trying to do what is best for her child, and other children with dwarfism. It’s about love.

Many people are saying “there are much bigger issues to worry about” Maybe. Maybe for you. Maybe for me. But, not for Chelley. Addie is the biggest thing that Chelley has to worry about. Her child’s happiness is the most important issue.

I can understand why those who do not have a child with dwarfism, or any children at all, would find this “ridiculous” (their opinion, not mine) If you’re not “in it” it is very hard to understand it.  But as a parent, especially a parent of a child who has some kind of medical diagnosis, there are different things that motivate your actions. You do everything you can to ensure that your child has a healthy and happy life.

Chelley isn’t looking for money from this. She never asked for money. She just asked for a change. She didn’t attack, she didn’t hold a gun to the heads of the pickle company, she just asked.  Please. Please make this change for everyone like Addie.

Many people are saying “It’s just a word. It only means small, it’s not a big deal”  But, to those with dwarfism, the word “Midget” IS a big deal. It is insulting, and considered offensive and derogatory. The problem is, as a society, we’ve made the word “ok” It is everywhere. From pickle jars, to youth sports. It’s become “just a word”  as if it has no meaning. And while it USED to be ok, it isn’t anymore.  Look at the word “retard” that used to be the correct word to use, but now we know that it is offensive and rude.  We no longer use it to describe a person with a developmental disability. Sure,  some little people refer to themselves by using the “m” word, but that doesn’t make it right (some African American people refer to themselves by using the “n” word, but it does not make it acceptable for everyone else to do so.)   Society and media has made dwarfism into a joke in many ways. This is totally unacceptable. People are people are people, regardless of their size! Film and television portray little people in stereotypical roles. Because of this, people think it is “ok” to laugh about little people, or use the “m” word.

Chelley is trying to change that. She is trying to educate.

No parent wants their child to be bullied. I worry about Avery. I worry that kids will find some “flaw” and pick on her for it.  I was fortunate to never experience bullying. While I know there were a few kids who felt bullied, I can honestly say, the schools I attended were great in that we were pretty darn nice to each other.  Sure there were cliques and groups that didn’t like each other, but bullying wasn’t really an issue.  My husband, on the other hand, was bullied.  By other students and TEACHERS. Yes, teachers. Why?  Because he was “short” (the shortest guy in my high school was also one of the most popular, so this is something I absolutely cannot fathom) At 5’5″ he was far from being a little person, but still, he was bullied.

Kids can be incredibly cruel. We all say “My kid would never bully someone because they are short, fat, skinny, tall, freckled, have black hair, have dark skin, have light skin, have dwarfism”  But there are kids who will.  Even if your child is kind and compassionate to all, in a class of 25 or more, a school of hundreds, there WILL be bullies.

From reading the comments on the news stories, I was appalled (though, sadly, not surprised) at how nasty these adults, these PARENTS were being. They were being bullies. They were teaching their children to be bullies.  Hundreds of them. Hundreds of adult bullies, teaching hundreds of kids to bully. That is sad. And it’s all because they are completely uneducated, and incapable of understanding that which they don’t personally experience.

Chelley isn’t out for money or blood, she is out to educate.  To educate those bullies and to educate the rest of us who just don’t know.

Before meeting Chelley and Addie, while I knew the “m” word was not acceptable to use when referring to a little person, I didn’t think about the idea that “midget,” when referring to pickles, or a football team, or some other non human entity could be hurtful. I never thought about it because it didn’t have to. It wasn’t a part of my life. Now, I “get it”  It doesn’t affect me, but it affects my friends.

This isn’t about being “PC” it’s about being educated, it’s about being kind.

Avery and I are proud of Chelley and what she has done to educate people, and help Addie and everyone with dwarfism.

6 comments

  1. Kelly @ In the Mom Light Blog says:

    Thanks for writing this. There can’t be enough posts reinforcing parents doing what’s right for their children and the fact that unless you’ve walked a mile in someone’s shoes. I have no one in my family with dwarfism, yet I see midget as an offensive word and use it cautiously. I write a lot of humor in my blog, but haven’t used this word because I would think that would derogatory. It’s not PC and I can’t believe a company had that on their label in the first place!

  2. Jen says:

    I also appreciate you writing this. While I’m not a mother, I was a social worker – working with both adults with mental illness and those with developmental disabilities. It’s amazing how ignorant people are when it involves those who are different. “Crazy,” “retarded,” “nuts,” etc. are all words which should also be taken out of people’s vocabulary. I never did give consideration to the pickle issue until just now, but agree that by making a “simple” (I’m sure it was quite a process for her) change such as renaming the baby pickles, people will hopefully become more aware of the derogatory nature of this word, and in turn, we can hope, others like it.

  3. Liza Glick says:

    I’m with you on this one. I love how you summed this up “Many people are saying “there are much bigger issues to worry about” Maybe. Maybe for you. Maybe for me. But, not for Chelley. Addie is the biggest thing that Chelley has to worry about. Her child’s happiness is the most important issue.” Perfect! I admire her for sticking up for her child.

  4. Sharon - MomGenerations.com says:

    I happened to be in my car Tuesday morning, driving to a hair appointment, when I heard JP’s radio talk show addressing this topic. I couldn’t believe the comments, the insensitivity, the jokes, the laughter. I don’t know how people can call talk shows with such trash comments. I don’t know how people form sentences that hurt people. I don’t understand how someone cannot WALK IN SOMEONE’S SHOES for one moment and internalize the subject… how it feels to be that person who asks for change FOR THE GOOD OF HER CHILD. It could be any child, any parent, any situation, any medical issue, any face, any color, any age, any ANYTHING and still some people cannot or will not try to internalize an issue. JP is the ringleader of nastiness and name calling and that will be the LAST time I listen to his talk show. Thank you for this heartfelt post, Sarah.

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