I admit it. I freaking LOVE Dancing With The Stars. As often as I can, I’ll tune in for my “Middle Aged Monday” routine of watching the program. So far, I’ve loved season 22 and have been enamored by the hunky Nyle DiMarco who showcases an amazing talent for ballroom dancing and just so happens to be hearing impaired. His challenge leaves the judges and sometimes myself included wondering just how in the hell he can express such gorgeous musicality without being able to hear one note of the songs being played. Despite this incredible talent that Nyle possesses, I’ve been utterly disappointed by the interactions seen throughout the show between Nyle and cast mates. There is an apparent lack of person first speaking and complete disrespect…Most surprisingly from his partner, Peta Murgatroyd. Allow me to explain:
Throughout the season, I’ve noticed Peta’s continuous instinct to talk over Nyle as if he can’t answer for himself when being spoken to by the judges or hostess, Erin Andrews. This instinct to jump the gun and open her mouth before Nyle can even begin to start answering in ASL comes across as pushy and disrespectful. I was also completely disturbed by the ease of which she referred to her partner as “the deaf guy” on this Monday’s show. As soon as those words escaped from her mouth, my jaw dropped to the ground.
Excuse me? The deaf guy? You mean your partner? I couldn’t believe that she had the audacity to refer to her partner and supposed friend in such a degrading way simply based on if he can hear or not. I was also kind of disgusted by the fact that she said this while speaking alone to the cameras because that just leaves you to wonder if Nyle even knows that he’s being referred to in such a demeaning matter.
One of the first rules that you learn when you’re working with people with a challenge of any kind is to utilize “person first speaking”. IE: Not “the blind person” but “the person who has a visual impairment”. By referring to Nyle as “the deaf guy” was essentially letting the world know that she only sees her partner as being defined by his disability. Not by his personality, his staggering good looks (wink!), or his ability as a dancer.
I commend Peta for her hard work on teaching Nyle how to ballroom dance and her excellent choreography. However, all of her accomplishments as his partner is being dragged through the mud by her blatant insensitivity which is showcased in her constant need to speak over him and by degrading her so called friend. Before Dancing With The Stars chooses to bring on another celebrity with any kind of disability I suggest some major sensitivity training for all parties involved on the show. I’m honestly baffled that nothing has been done yet with such obvious cases this season and DWTS is definitely losing the respect of an avid fan.