Tuesday, February 13, 2007

My Unique Family

On my last night in LA, I camped out in front of the TV and watched TLC's My Unique Family. This episode is about Bree Walker and her kids, who have ectrodactyly. I was interested because I remember Bree Walker's days as an anchor at CBS in LA. When she went public with her condition (which doesn't really prevent her from doing anything important), she got a lot of criticism from the public about her choice to have children.

Ectrodactyly is caused by a dominant mutation, meaning that an affected parent has a 1/2 chance of passing it on to a child. It happens that Bree Walker has passed it on to both her children, who are now teenagers.

I have mixed feelings about shows like this, where a lot of it seems to be footage so the normal people can gawk at the freaks. (About 90% of the camera angles in this program were focused on hands or feet.) But TLC does a good job of driving home the point that Bree and her kids don't feel disabled, just different. They showed the daughter hanging out with friends (like a normal teenager) and the son go-kart racing (like a normal teenager). The talk was mostly about how other people see them, how they deal with that, and how Bree has tried to help her kids deal with the ignorance of strangers. It seems like she's done a really good job with them.

Because of that, I was surprised at the other freakish part of the show: how much plastic surgery Bree Walker has had. She's got to be over 50 by now, and she looks... well, not 50, but also not very real. Here. Here's her in probably the early 80's versus now.

And here's one more picture, to wipe out the grotesque from your mind.

From Los Angeles

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