24 April 2010

What's the recourse?

This week has taught me that for every horrible person I encounter, there are at least 100 compassionate, friendly and empathetic people out there. I have received more than a hundred messages of support. Thank you.

Some great things have happened to me this week - another article published, good stuff at work, support from uni, and of course the reply from Callan Mulvey (I'd like to think he reads this blog!). Tonight I am going out with a new friend and I am really excited about dressing up and catching up.

I am still in awe of the support I have received following the abuse from the shopkeeper worried that the vaseline on my face will ruin her clothes.

I have contacted a few places that I believed may be able to resolve the situation (as in, give the woman a good talking to/fine/education), but unfortunately there really isn't much that can be done. The representatives from these places provided personal apologies for what had happened, and were sympathetic towards me, and shocked about the way she treated me, but there aren't any options for recourse. The shopkeeper is hardly going to agree to mediation, or to undertake any sort of diversity training. And I don't want to see her again to mediate. I find that really disappointing.

I believe we live in a great country with lots of support for unemployed and Indigenous people, yet support for disabled and chronically ill people seems lacking. There's little to no financial support (for example, health care cards) for disabled and chronically ill people who are employed. And through calling the council and the human rights commission this week, there doesn't seem many avenues for taking discrimination further, unless it's mutually agreeable. I want to change that.

Last night a woman from the ABC Radio in country Victoria contacted me through my Facebook asking me if I would speak with her on radio about the support I've received after putting my story on this blog and other places online. Though I have expressed my opposition for sharing my story with tabloid media, I really want to speak about this on the ABC, to make people aware of both the treatment I received, and to think twice before judging a person on their appearance. I will let you know more when I find out more.

A couple of the comments on this blog and elsewhere have said that the shopkeeper is usually this rude, that she may not have understood why I look red, and for me to just rise above the abuse. They are fair comments, but I shouldn't have to rise about the abuse because this behaviour should not happen. I imagine it can be difficult for some people to comprehend just how many times I am questioned about my appearance. I can and do ignore most of the comments. Just today, a little girl repeated 'there's a pink girl mum' about 20 times in a store, and her mother said nothing. I didn't say anything either. I ignored it. But it doesn't make it any easier. So sometimes all the questioning and commenting and starting comes to a head, and there may be an exceptionally rude person, like the shopkeeper last week, and so I may not remain polite about things. I may be just as rude in return. And I may swear. I have every right to. I've said it before, but I believe that nobody should question somebody else's appearance to their face.

I know this is a rather serious blog entry. There were just a few things I wanted to get off my chest.


  1. Hey Carly,
    Hang in there, hun!

    Go out tonight, get glammed up and HAVE FUN!!!

    For every bad thing that happens, so many more opportunities and good things will come your way, as you've started to see already!

    Lots of love

    SSG xxx

  2. I'd say that the lady in the store is going to get a few intermittent doses of karma in regards to this matter for a period of time to come.....well, I certainly hope so! I have faith in the Karma Police and after reading your post I actually now have *some* faith in the compassion and sensibility of the general public ;-)

  3. You should have your say on the radio, sometimes it is good for the world to hear what its like on the receiving end of such experiences. I'm sure you'll do yourself, and everyone who knows you, very proud indeed!

    Keep your chin up Carly, makes it easier for life to kiss you with a wonderful experience!


  4. You are an incredible woman. Keep your chin up x

  5. Don't worry about the people who say you should just "rise above". Unless they are in your position they can't really know what it's like and they don't really understand that sometimes you can't just ignore comments and looks. You show other people how to treat you and if if u act like a doormat you'll be treated like one so you were right to stand up for yourself. Unfortunately there are probably many that don't stand up against these people so that means they not only get away with it but they keep doing it to others. You're not only your own voice, you're also giving a voice to the thousands of others like you who contend with rude, judgmental people every day. Go you!

  6. I'm totally with you on this Carly!! Having been there myself. We're all human at the end of the day and we can only take so much. I too have had situations/days when I've been feeling more self conscious or having an 'off day' with my Ichthyosis and the last thing you want to see or hear is someone pointing out the fact. I often feel like turning round and saying something like... 'really? you don't say' or 'oooh really? I hadn't noticed' lol It isn't until after the event I can think of whitty comments I wish I'd said to people who comment on my skin.

    I really admire what you're doing and have tried to do to raise awareness of these issues involving discrimination and I too wish there was something that I could do to make a change here in the UK. Like I say, we are still human at the end of the day and we deserve to be treated as such.

    Anyway, onwards and upwards. It seems that plenty of good things have happened since so stay focused on those hun. And Callan Mulvey... what can I say, top bloke!!

    Take care and have fun!!
    Melanie xx


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