The 3-year-old girl gracing the cover of Parents magazine this month has such a bright, winning smile, you almost don't notice how she's standing. Behind the fun, frilly pink skirt is a golden walker. Emily Kiecher has spina bifida, a condition that happens in utero where the spine and surrounding tissue and skin do not close up completely. This is the first time the magazine has featured a differently-abled child on its cover.
Emily and her parents are thrilled to have a cover girl in the family. But for Emily's mother, Liz, it's way more than personal. "I hope it starts a discourse for people, and makes them open to seeing images of kids from all walks of life. And I hope that in the future, when I go to the magazine section, I’ll see three or four more magazines featuring kids from all walks of life!"
Liz says in another interview that when she first started telling people about her baby's diagnosis while she was pregnant, people kept saying, "I'm sorry." But Liz didn't see anything anyone needed to be sorry about. She was having a baby! That was the most important thing.
And now, she doesn't think of her daughter as Emily-who-has-spina-bifida. She's just Emily. She's the little girl Liz and her husband dearly wished to join their family.
So there's a happy jolt of reality from a special-needs parent. Every child is a human being first, regardless of what shape they come in. Emily has her challenges, but she gives back so much joy, I think her family is incredibly lucky to have her in their family.
Do you think putting a special-needs child on a magazine cover changes the way people see special-needs kids?
Image via Parents