Cleft Lip and Palate
Updated: Apr 25, 2020
Yesterday, Canadian footballer Adam Bighill's son Beau had his lip repaired under general anaesthetic. Unfortunately he had this done in a maelstrom of media attention.
Cleft lip and palate affects 1 in 700 births, and can result in malformations of the soft tissue and bone of the face. Obviously this can have a profound effect on the child and they can face difficulties during their lives due to bullying and victimization. I wrote a blog article last year about my experiences working in a major cleft lip and palate center in the UK
This had a profound affect on my education and my career, and the reason why our clinic supports www.operationsmile.ie
At the same time Beau was heading for his pre-op assessments yesterday, Wendy Williams, American talk show host and media celebrity was using her platform to mimic a cleft palate on her show. She was mocking Joaquin Phoenix and the scar he has on his lip (he has never commented on this, or its cause). During the skit, she hooks her finger up on her top lip to imitate the facial condition. During this segment, which is met by the raucous laughter of the audience she seems oblivious to the hurt that she may be causing to the cleft community in the US and the rest of the world. Adam Bighill and his son were both born with a cleft, and for this to happen on the same day he was to go for surgery would have likely been deeply traumatizing to the family, and probably filled him with significant anger.
He used his own media profile to call her out and to demand an apology. She has since apologized for her actions and has made a donation to the cleft palate charities in the US, but the UK, Irish and Worldwide arms of those charities were dismayed that such action could be seen today, so hideous and offensive as they are.
This has echoes of the same sort of comedic mockery that Donald Trump was guilty of during the most recent Presidential election in the US, and we should expect a much higher standard of decency from our media personalities. #endbullying