Who’s That Girl?

Dec 16, 2015

There’s a girl in my daughter’s dance club at school. She had a solo in the end of term show. She has brothers and sisters and a dog at home. She comes to our house for play dates. She’s allergic to peanuts. She’s sweet, kind, interested and interesting. She’ll be involved in prostitution in approximately ten years’ time, due to the life events she will face.
When we think of a ‘prostitute’ or ‘drug addict’, or someone on the streets, what exactly do we see? ‘Who’ do we see? In the images that come to mind, what is missing? Do we think of them solely in their present circumstances? Do we contemplate their recent past? Do we ever guess at a name, a birth story, a start to life or an end? Do we reflect on their future if circumstances don’t change, or imagine what could be if they do?
For every person on the street, there is a history, a story, and the redemptive possibility of a radically different future – a future not just drug-free and out of prostitution, but actively creatively making a life for themselves in healthy relationships with others. If we cannot imagine such a past or care about such a future, we risk dishonouring people in the present, labelling them with the shallowest descriptions, never seeking to know them by any other name.
Try applying the labels we ascribe to people on the streets to people we love. It feels awkward because these words don’t fit the people we cherish. They don’t do them justice. And yet so it is with people on the streets. If the words and images in your head feel like human vandalism, they are. There is more to the real name and more to the real woman, and there’s even more than that: if, like me, you have kids at school, that woman’s past in your present.
By Madi Simpson
Posted by Beyond The Streets on 28/04/2015 at 12:49 PM