Special Olympics Fashion Statement

posted Tuesday February 28th, 2012

Pretty much ever since Sophie was born, I’ve kept a running list in my head of clothing items people with Down syndrome should avoid at all costs. These include but are not limited to: top hats, bow ties and overalls. Look, I get that that’s not a particularly politically correct thing to say. But we live in a mean world, people. You’ve got to look your best.

Yesterday I added another item to the list: the track suit.

I don’t even know where Annabelle located a matching pair of pants and jacket in our house, let alone a matching track suit. Yesterday afternoon she and Sophie disappeared and emerged into the kitchen a while later, announcing that Sophie was ready for her very first Special Olympics practice in track and field. (I never did get her signed up for cheerleading; more on that in an upcoming post, I promise.)

I guess Annabelle heard “track and field” and immediately thought “track suit.” Makes sense. I didn’t know til Sophie burst through the door, super excited, that this is not a good look. This was exacerbated by the fact that she was wearing a shirt that said supercalifragilisticexpialidocious on it, along with a pair of purple/black patent leather sneakers. The worst part was her hair, which was (and this is entirely my fault) tangled and greasy and (this she and Annabelle did) stuck half up/half down with about a dozen bobby pins hanging all over her head. Top that off with the smudged Down syndrome-standard-issue glasses, and there you’ve got it. Not Sophie’s best fashion statement.

WHO CARES?! you are no doubt yelling at your computer screen, along with unmentionable labels for me. Before you get too mad, you need to know that I did let Sophie out the door that way. She and Annabelle were really pleased (later Annabelle assured me that she’d put Sophie in a sports bra, just in case) and really excited for Special Olympics.

I was excited, too. And freaked out. Totally freaked out. If you have a special needs kid you might relate to the fact that ever since Sophie was born, not only have I been avoiding fashion mistakes on her part (when let’s face it, I should probably have focused more on my own) I have been thinking about Special Olympics. There aren’t many 100 percent super terrific things about having a special needs kid, but this is definitely one of them. If only, I’ve thought many times, there had been a Special Olympics for me. Alas, being a neurotic sufferer of hay fever and a diet soda addict does not qualify.

But having Down syndrome does, so off we went to a high school track near our house to sign up.

“I just wish Sophie looked cuter,” I thought to myself as we pulled out of the driveway. “Or at least cleaner.”

Really, if there’s one place where it doesn’t matter if your special needs kid is spit-shined it’s Special Olympics, right? Oh but it’s so much more complicated than that, particularly for those of us who are not joiners — the ones who don’t go to the support groups, who mainstream perhaps a bit too much.

Sophie was registering for Special Olympics yesterday, but I was the one being admitted into the club.

The hardest part’s over. We’re in. Sophie had a ball, can’t wait to go back next week. And I’ll get used to what you see at a typical Special Olympics track and field practice, right?

In any case, I’ll get over myself. But I’m hiding that damn track suit, I can tell you that. I’ve pretty much traced all of my clothing-for-developmentally-disabled-people phobias to the movies — “Of Mice and Men,” for example, is the source of my problem with overalls. I’m not sure exactly where the track suit thing comes in. The only movie I can think of in which matched track suits appear is “The Royal Tennenbaums.”

Come to think of it, we could all do worse than to dress like someone in a Wes Anderson movie.

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Tags: Filed under: Down syndrome by Amysilverman

14 Responses to “Special Olympics Fashion Statement”

  1. For the record, I think she looks adorable. But I’m with you on the overalls. Also ditched the leopard print, small flowery prints (a la laura ashley, 1980s), and the fuzzy pink velour track suit that I’m sure was kindly gifted. And I won’t buy the turtle/snail line from Gymboree.

    And this might be tmi, but… sports bra?! What?

  2. Ok, I’m de-lurking here. I was pointed in your direction from another blog, and just wanted to say, I thoroughly enjoy your ‘tongue in cheek’ humor! You say things others might be afraid to say, but in a way that makes me smile and nod in agreement. My daughter doesn’t have Ds, but does have a condition which makes her look younger than her chronological age. I ALWAYS judge her outfits based on whether her peers will think she is fashionable. It might be wrong (of course we should be judged by what’s on the ‘inside’, blah, blah, blah….), but if it’s another way to gain acceptance with the ‘norms’, I’ll do it.

  3. I say if she has Annabelle dressing her in *anything*, she’s all set. If in doubt, refer to Annabelle. In fact, I wish she’d dress me….daily.

  4. By the way, is that a javelin in her hand?

  5. turtle/snail line — hahahahahaha!

    no need for a sports bra. she made me buy her a bra a while ago (wishful thinking).

    and — why yes, that’s a javelin!

  6. Oh Kris, you have no idea how much your comment means to me! THANK YOU for lurking — and for de-lurking (my new favorite term).

  7. I wish I had the guts to wear a matching track suit…as hideous as they may be, they are comfortable. The patent leather sneakers crack me up!!!

    re: greasy hair- have you discovered dry shampoo yet? It is aaaamaaazing!

  8. Oh how I love your posts. I have some of the same hang-ups where my son (with Ds) is concerned…no corduroys, no sweatpants with elasticated cuffs, only cool sneakers and I am forever cleaning his constantly smeary glasses. I also torture him much more frequently with nose wiping because I am much more sensitive to him having a dirty face than my daughter.

    We just signed up for a Young Athletes program for 2-7 year olds. I love that my typically-developing daughter can participate with my son.

  9. Think Sophie looks adorable in her track suit!!! When out shopping, look around, there are soooo many cute track suits and it doesn’t have to be the ones you think about when you think 70′s track suit. I know what Sophie is getting for her b-day…. a track suit!! LOL!!!

  10. I like to think I’m not materialistic and that whatever the kids want to wear will be fine by me- but it’s been an ongoing battle with my so-called “typical” kid to not have her go to school looking like a homeless person since she was about 18 months old. So far Abbers hasn’t shown a huge preference in what she wears so we have been able to control that arena. I know that will come to an end some day soon though. For me it’s always been the hair. I don’t want Abby to have “institutional hair”. Lord help me the day she asks for a short shag and I have to tell her no- that’s not cool.

  11. Oh the hair. The hair is a nightmare.

  12. I’m with krlr, I think Sophie looks adorable.

    But I have to admit that I have very little fashion sense myself.

  13. Just wrote a bit about that kind of anxiety- I’m always particular about how she looks but I too think Sophie is adorable. And I have to say I love my daughter’s glasses. And what’s with the hair- my daughter is 12 now and she actually gets greasy hair- yecchhhh, within like 2 days of washing it. sigh.
    You make me giggle- a bit painfully but giggle nonetheless!

  14. that is so not true, elaine! :) both you and your sophie rock the beach fashions (all i’ve seen, but still).

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