Disability is Not a Costume

I am utterly disgusted by Madonna’s putting on an eyepatch to adopt the “persona” of her alter ego Madame X. Disability is not costume or character – it is disability. And when it comes to the eyepatch, I have some experience. Throughout my childhood, my mother wore an eyepatch after her eye socket and optic nerve were destroyed by a gangrene infection. After her eye was removed, she was no longer able to drive; her depth mom in glassesperception was gone; and she had my father walk on her left side out in public so she could have an extra set of eyes on that side. People stared at her, so she wore large dark glasses. An eye patch does not signify a mysterious character backstory; it signifies a disability.

I think about my mother and her half-blindness when I read about issues of representation on stage and screen, whether representation of disability, gender, or race. If Madonna wants to create a Madame X character with a disability, she should hire a disabled actor to play the part.

About lindaessig

Linda Essig is Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA and principal/owner of Creative Infrastructure LLC. The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of Cal State LA. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix.
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