Aussie Hands advocating for limb difference to be celebrated
Many in the limb difference community are disappointed by the depiction of the Grand High Witch character, played by Anne Hathaway, in the 2020 remake of The Witches by Warner Brothers.
The character’s hands are depicted as evil and scary and look like those of a person born with #symbrachydactyly – a condition where bones in the hands of fingers do not form.
Aussie Hands President, Karen Macdonald, said: ‘This movie is aimed at a young audience and the depiction of a person with a hand difference as scary and evil reinforces stereotypes and stigmas associated with limb difference. This is not acceptable, particularly when there are few role models in film and television for those living with a limb difference.’
‘Hand difference’ refers to congenital hand or upper limb differences ranging from the absence of one or all fingers on a hand and in some cases the absence of part or the entire arm. Around 5 in 10,000 babies are born with a hand difference. The main difficulties are functional limitations, negative social interactions, concerns about physical appearances and adaptation challenges.
Aussie Hands Patron and Paralympian, Jessica Smith OAM, said: ‘I want all Australians to know about the incredible work that this Foundation is doing, and has been doing for the past 20 years!
‘Aussie Hands exists to help support people living with a limb difference, we want young children to feel safe and confident as they grow with their unique differences. The portrayal of ‘evil’ and ‘scary’ in movies is almost always at the expense of someone living with a disability.’
For 20 years, Aussie Hands has been working to promote inclusion and respect aiming for everyone to be accepted and for difference to be celebrated and normalised.
Since the outpouring of comments against the negative stereotypes in the movie, Anne Hathaway has offered her apology stating: ‘I particularly want to say I’m sorry to kids with limb differences: now that I know better I promise I’ll do better.’
An apology was also made by Warner Bros. Pictures which has agreed to work together with organisations such as the Lucky Fin Project to add disclaimers to films and also listen to the voices of people with lived experiences.
‘I don’t believe anyone set out with ill intentions to upset the limb difference community, but now that Hollywood at large is aware, they must do better. And the conversation must continue. Because there are children all around the world who are struggling to understand why their body is used as an example of evil, and that is simply not ok. Through conversation, and through listening… we learn. And when we learn we gain knowledge. And knowledge is power,’ added Smith.
#notawitch #lucky_fin_project #jessicasmith27
About Aussie Hands
Aussie Hands is a national organisation that provides support, information and encouragement to people with a hand or upper limb difference, their families and community. Aussie Hands works to cultivate positive relationships, share ideas, strategies and experiences that give individuals the self-confidence they need to achieve their goals in life.
Aussie Hands works to raise awareness about hand and upper limb differences and encourage a more inclusive society.
In addition, the organisation co-founded the Australian Hand Difference Register (AHDR) with researchers from Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital in 2017. The AHDR aims to find out how many children are born with a hand/arm difference, understand possible causes or risk factors and gain information in order to plan targeted services. Read more about Aussie Hands and also at Instagram or Linkedin.