Huff Post’s “Craziest Birth Stories of All Time” is Hateful Modern Day Freak Show

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Banking on a dark history where bodily difference in disabled people, people of color, fat people, and LGBTQ people has equated freakish, abominations of God, The Huffington Post has fallen off the deep end to lure its readers. Instead of informing us around the evolving ethics and politics around birth and body across the globe, The Huffington chose to do a story that reads more like a circus freak sideshow than a slide show.

Step Right Up, Ladies and Gents! We’ve Got The Fat Lady, and all Kinds of Ethnic Curiosities that Will Boggle Your Mind and Frighten Your Senses! The Huffington’s got:

 

The Fat Lady

For this story, the fact that this expectant mother is obese seems more shocking to readers than the fact that she is pregnant twice with two different due dates. This story spawned hateful, misogynistic comments like: Are you sure she just isn’t disgustingly, morbidly obese? Or how about: How can they tell she is pregnant? Need I say more?

Ethnic Curiosities

Lali, is the North Indian baby with two faces who, according to the Associated Press is “being worshipped as the reincarnation of a Hindu Goddess.” Another girl born with 8 Limbs is being revered because she looks like the multi-limbed Hindu goddess Lakshmi. Music and voiceovers for both stories play up the subjects as pitiable, exotic, and superstitious simpletons who believe birth defects are signs of the divine. This patronizing portrayal perpetuates stereotypes and solidifies the idea that Western culture is better than all others.

Oldest Mother of Twins

So determined to have a son, Omkari Panwar who was 70-years-old, underwent IVF treatments and got pregnant. She gave birth to twins–a boy and a girl. The implication being that her exotic culture dictates she must have a son even as an old woman. A notion that educated, cultured people like us would have the sense not to do. With a little research, however, it’s pretty easy to find out about the Spanish white woman gave birth to twins at age 67.

Half Man-Half Woman or The Bearded Lady

Oh yeah, let’s not forget about Thomas Beatie, the Asian American “man who used to be a woman but went through chest reconstruction and hormone therapy, gave birth to a child last year.” His crazy birth story is listed as well.

(Black) Mother of Twins from Two Different Fathers

“Mia Washington gave birth to twin boys last year who are actually half brothers. Jordan and Justin shared a womb but not a father. Their mother had sex with two different men during the same ovulation cycle–one in which her body had released two eggs that were fertilized separately.” This piece reinforces the stereotype that Black women have multiple baby daddies, so much so they can have twins in the process.

These body “anomalies” are known biological occurrences that can happen in all animal species naturally or through scientific means. Objectifying these folks as “crazy” curiosities who should be studied as objects based on their bodily and ethnic differences breeds fear and perpetuates stereotypes, prejudice and inequality. Also, portraying difference as “abnormal” is not just crude and insensitive, it is dangerous and invites ridicule, discrimination and violence towards disabled people, people of color, fat people, and LGBT folks. What’s scary is the piece ignores the history of Eugenics, where images likes these were used to make the case for controlling populations that exhibited undesirable traits to the human race, like being fat, thin, dark skinned, or with birth defects. Great job Huffington Post, Hitler would be proud.

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Comments

  1. Most of these stories do seem like something that I would be interested in reading about, especially the babies being worshipped as reincarnations of Hindu Goddesses. The format chosen by the Huffington Post seems more troubling to me, as it definitely suggests some sort of sideshow attraction. Without that formatting, and without the racist undertones in some of the stories, these might be perfectly fine articles.