- The TV host made fun of the actor’s lip during a segment of her show.
- Phoenix was not born with a cleft lip, but rather a nonsurgical scar.
- Football player Adam Bighill and other celebrities demanded Williams to issue a public apology.
TV host Wendy Williams is in hot water after she criticized actor Joaquin Phoenix’s scar, which resembles a cleft lip. She made fun of his lip during a Hot Topics segment of her show on January 7.
A cleft lip is a common birth defect that happens when a baby’s mouth or lip did not form properly during pregnancy. During the segment, Williams mocked the actor’s scar by hooking her finger under her lip to resemble a cleft.
She began by describing Phoenix as “oddly attractive” and calling attention to his “piercing eyes.” Afterwards, she went on to describe the actor’s lips.
“When he shaves off his mustache he’s got a hairline fracture,’ she said. ‘He’s got one of those — what do you call it? Cleft lip, cleft palate.”
Phoenix doesn’t actually have a cleft lip, but rather a nonsurgical scar that he was born with. It was mostly hidden by his beard.
According to the Cleft Lip and Palate Association, the actor was thought to have been born with a ‘microform cleft,’ a mild form of cleft. It leaves a small groove in the upper lip and doesn’t often require surgery.
It was after a week during Williams’ show that her comments garnered outrage, which started when Canadian football player Adam Bighill took to Twitter to criticize the host. The athlete was born with a cleft lip and palate. His son Beau was also born with it.
‘This needs a RT!!!,’ he wrote. @WendyWilliams mimics a cleft lip and palate person!! I have a cleft lip and palate, so does my son who was just born, her actions are hideous and OFFENSIVE. Promoting bullying, with her platform, that’s IRRESPONSIBLE!! #EndBullying,’ Bighill tweeted.
Soon others began to vent out on social media against Williams.
“As Ambassador for Cleft Lip and Palate Association, I really am disgusted by this,” says British TV personality Carol Vorderman.
She added that mimicking a cleft lip and joking about it a disgraceful, especially when one considers the pain and medical operations that a a child has to go through because of the condition.
Bighill demanded that Williams issue a public apology for what she did.
Fortunately, this pushed Williams to apologize about her insensitive remarks. She also added that she will be donating to charities that help people have their cleft lips and palates repaired.
Bighill also updated everyone about Beau getting his lip repaired.
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