What Is Ectrodactyly? Critics Say New Movie ‘The Witches’ Is Insensitive to Rare Disability

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Warner Brothers is apologizing to the disability community after claims the new Anne Hathaway movie “The Witches” is ableist. Viewers said the portrayal of some of the characters’ hands and feet negatively portrayed limb differences.

"We the filmmakers and Warner Bros. Pictures are deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in The Witches could upset people with disabilities, and regret any offense caused,” the studio said in a statement.

The rare genetic condition is called ectrodactyly, also known as split hand, and occurs when one or more central fingers or toes doesn’t develop in the womb. Hathaway’s villainous character portrays the limb abnormality when her character reveals that hidden under her long gloves are split hands, with three fingers.

But disability activists say that using the disability as a witch’s costume makes it seem like only “scary monsters” have limb differences, British actress Melissa Johns said on Twitter. She was born without a right forearm and hand.

Paralympic swimming champion Claire Cashmore, who was born without a left forearm, said that people with limb differences fear that the film, which has a child audience, will empower bullies instead of giving children with disabilities proper representation.

“As a child, I was known as Captain Hook and told my arm was disgusting,” Cashmore told Inside Edition.

Hathaway, who portrayed the character in question, also took to Instagram to apologize and raise awareness.

“I have recently learned that many people with limb differences, especially children, are in pain because of the portrayal of the Grand High Witch in The Witches,” she wrote. “As someone who really believes in inclusivity and really, really detests cruelty, I owe you all an apology for the pain caused.”

Hathaway and others are now encouraging viewer to educate themselves on limb differences by visiting the Lucky Fin Project.


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