Among the many unusual, slightly off-putting things about the case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her late mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, one of the most disturbing is undoubtedly Gypsy’s age inappropriate, childlike demeanor. For much of her life growing up, Gypsy was told by Dee Dee that she was much younger than her actual age — a fact that, in retrospect, likely stunted Gypsy both emotionally and psychologically.
Even more warped is the fact that Dee Dee urged others to help her with the charade. When she was turning 18, for instance, Dee Dee instructed Gypsy’s father, Rod Blanchard, not to mention her age because “she thinks she’s 14.” He obliged, for fear of upsetting either his daughter or his ex-wife. One of her most distinctive characteristics, linked to her youthful demeanor, is undoubtedly Gypsy Rose's voice, which has been described as “high-pitched” and “squeaky.” In Hulu's The Act, actor Joey King affects Gypsy's voice and mannerisms, which begs the question of her performance's realism.
Well, Springfield, Missouri, cab driver Janice Buttram, who shuttled Gypsy and her then-boyfriend Nicholas Godejohn between the Greyhound station and the Days Inn where they were staying after Godejohn murdered Dee Dee, later told the local paper that she remembered the pair in large part because of Gypsy’s unique voice.
“She paid, she was in control,” Buttram told the paper of what she remembered of the duo. “She was not scared of him in any way.” By that point, Gypsy was walking on her own two feet (she had been confined to a wheelchair by her mother since she was seven), and was wearing a black wig meant to help disguise her identity. Her voice, however, was a dead giveaway.
In an August 2016 Buzzfeed piece that helped launch Gypsy’s story into the national consciousness, writer Michelle Dean noted, after meeting Gypsy in prison that “her voice is still high-pitched, though now that we know what we know, it no longer seems unusually high at all. People heard what they wanted to.”
Gypsy herself grew defensive when asked about her distinctive tone. “It’s not my fault,” she told Dean. “I can’t help it. This is my voice.”
In subsequent interviews, Gypsy has proven that though her voice may have a childlike, wondrous quality to it, she is far from naive. She speaks articulately about the abuse that she endured at the hands of her mother (including, but not limited to, being physically chained to her bed for two weeks, being beaten with coat hangers, and being starved for several days as a means of punishment).
“In certain ways yes, in other ways no,” she told Dr. Phil in thinking about whether or not she thought that her mother loved her. “I think that she was very sick in her mind. For a long time, I believed that she was my best friend, and when I was younger, she was my best friend. … She was my only friend, other than my stuffed animals. … And so I thought she was a great mother, no complaints. I saw her as an angel that can do no wrong.”