Ask the dwarf (or little person, or almost any other term you want to use)

This thread stems from a Cafe Society thread about Peter Dinklage, and while he is indeed a hottie a few other issues are coming up that seem better discussed elsewhere, so I thought I’d start this thread.

I have a very unusual type of dwarfism – see this page for info on it – so while height-wise I’m 4’2", proportion-wise I’m sort of the opposite of what you’re probably picturing; I have a shorter body and longer limbs. This probably doesn’t have much of anything to do with stuff people might want to know, but there’s a ton of conditions that can affect growth, and I have a very uncommon one.

There’s a lot of ignorance out there about dwarfism in general. As annoying as it can be to be a walking lesson, sometimes you just have to go with it and try to educate and dispel ignorance a bit, so I’m giving in and doing it here. So go ahead and ask anything you want, I will answer to the best of my ability.

Do little people have trouble making links that work?

Apparently so. I think I just fixed it. That’s what I get for not previewing!

What’s the stupidest thing someone has ever said to you (with regards to your size)?

Thanks for the info and attempt to dispel ignorance, a very good thing.

For some reason, the link does not work, on my system at least. Is there another, or better link?

Try this.

Do you find the following book review offensive:

“It must be late in the day when midgets cast such long shadows”?

That in toto was the review published by mathematician Gian Carlo Rota in Advances in Mathematics probably in 1985. I have quoted it and been told it is offensive.

I see that you’ve addressed this in your thread title, but I just want to be clear on which terms are and are not offensive. So if I were trying to point you out in a crowd, or remind someone which of my friends whiterabbit is, would I say, “She’s [IIRC, you are a she] the little person wearing the shark-tooth necklace?” or “She’s the dwarf wearing the shark-tooth necklace?” or “She’s the gal in that awful shark-tooth necklace?” or something else?

Oy. I knew that one would come up right away.

Midget has fallen out of use. I know, it used to be proportional=midget, non-proportional=dwarf. This started in the 1800s, interestingly, in the entertainment world (think circuses). These days it’s generally (I don’t speak for all, I’m sure, but for a large (shut up!) majority it’s considered an insult, sometimes on par with “nigger.” Please, please, please don’t use it unless you are absolutely sure it’s okay with the person in question. I’ve seen a few too many midget jokes even here on the Dope, and I have to say, it really bothers me.

I don’t like any of the current terms, but I’ll be damned if I can think of anything else to use besides dwarf (okay by me, but not great) or little person (which I am particularly annoyed by). I know “short-statured” is used in some other English-speaking countries, but to me that seems non-specific enough. This is an ongoing argument in LP (I’ll mostly use that) circles.

What are some common, everyday situations that you find yourself in - but that other, non-LP (to use your term) folks would rarely encounter - and what do those folks typically do wrong that leaves you feeling disrespected? What should they (we) do instead?

Do you have a family history of dwarfism or short statured people?

As a (not even really excessively tall) 6’5" person, most people realize that airline seats are cramped for me and pants can be tricky to find. I don’t think they think about the fact that most bathroom mirrors cut me off from the nose up, or that I’m leaving a patch of hair on the roof of my buddy’s Volkswagon when we go for a drink (I told him to leave it; I’ll want it back in a few years ;))

I haven’t been asked since high school, but I would occasionally get the “So, you play basketball?” question, which was difficult to segue in to anything else, since I can’t play basketball, and wasn’t much of a sports guy.

So my questions are:
[li]Is there anything about being 4’2" that’s a hassle or whatever that most people probably don’t realize?[/li][li]I imagine clothes are easier to find on that end of the spectrum… are they?[/li][li]Is there an annoyingly common question/comment people make when they meet you?[/li][/ul]

The stupidest thing ever said to me?

Hmm. There’s the “I’m so happy to see you doing (whatever)” – shopping, going to school, whatever normal thing I do people. It’s not like I’m buying food in order to be a walking inspiration. This bugs me more than you might think. I hate being singled out and put on a pedestal simply because I showed up.

The worst, though, wasn’t actually spoken, but an ex-fiance’s parents were apparently so horrified by the prospect of their son marrying me that they announced, once we were 600 miles away after meeting me, that they didn’t approve and wouldn’t come to the wedding. They didn’t say why, but I don’t think they had to. He broke it off at that point. having suddenly turned out to be a mama’s boy. In the long run this was a good thing, but it was awful at the time.

Then there were the idiots the other day across the street in town who yelled something about an Oompa-Loompa when I was walking to my car.

auntie em, how about “She’s that really really short chick with the necklace.” There’s no getting around that I’m really really short, but if I’m in sight I don’t see why anything else would be needed. If I wasn’t there I wouldn’t object to “she’ll be that really really short chick – I mean short, she’s 4’2”, she’s a dwarf so don’t be surprised – with the necklace."

The whole label issue can get really tricky because everybody has different opinions.

Don’t be so self conscious. I was just thinking “It’s so nice to see that dwarves have access to the internet now that cell phones have keypads.” :smiley:

That’s funny, I don’t remember seeing an [OK TO BE SNARKY - OR - CRACK JOKES IT’S FUNNY] sign on this thread. :rolleyes:

Whiterabbit - does your place of work make special accomodation for ergonomics for you? Or are you not in a profession that would require such?

I have a close friend with the same Dwarfism you have, she is a Financial Planner, and the company she works for gave her several very nice ergonomically correct perks in her office…

Do you need or have any special requirements at your place of employ?

Has your employer been co-operative? Examples…

Upon edit, Plosphr is a turkey of the highest order. :wink:

No thread has that, but jokes appear on all kinds of threads. Go figgure.

Hari Seldon, yes, I’m rather offended by that.

WordMan, there’s a couple of things I can think of off the top of my head. One is that if I need help I’ll ask for it, and if I say I’m okay, I don’t need it, I’m serious. So take the grocery store. If I’m looking at a shelf and you ask if I need a hand and I say I don’t, but thanks, let it go. Occasionally people will persist, which does bug, even though it’s well-meant. This goes for pretty much anybody who has some physical difference or disability as far as I know.

The other thing is disciplining your kids for being honestly curious about me. I am not offended by a kid asking me a question, and I don’t mind answering. I love watching them think out “Looks like grownup…short like kid…” but for most explaining that grownups come in all sizes, all the way from super tall basketball players down to me, and most people are in the middle, just like them, is enough of a quick answer. My favorite was a little girl, about four, who asked, “Are you a mommy?” “No, I’m not a mommy, but I am a grown-up, like your mommy.” “Ooooooooooh,” she said. I don’t think she’d run into many women who weren’t moms, so it struck me as a perfectly reasonable question!

Aesiron, no, no family history at all. That’s true for most of us, I think. Look at the Roloffs (on TLC); both Matt and Amy’s families are of average height. It just happens, random mutations. I’m told I’d probably have a 50% chance of passing it on, though.

Nanoda, I can imagine it must be difficult at the other extreme as well! I wish I could get my hands on whoever decided that four or five foot high counters were a good idea. A lot of places will have one lower counter, but it’s almost never open. Banks are particularly bad as far as high counters go. Also, stores that haven’t figured out that the card reader thingies really need to be adjustable. I’ve had to get cashiers to come around and read the damn screens for me on quite a few occasions, because I couldn’t see them.

Clothes are a PITA because I have to get a lot of stuff altered; shirts and pants are always too long. Capris have been helpful, because I have pants I bought that fit right off the shelf. But it depends on how they’re cut because I don’t need the crotch down by my knees either.

I can’t think of a particularly annoying thing people say. Most people don’t say anything; sometimes I can tell they really want to but think it’d be rude. Kids are the ones that usually come out and say something.

Do you find that relative height has a bearing on what men you’re attracted to – or conversely, what men are attracted to you? (Once there’s an emotional connection, physical appearance shouldn’t really matter, but I was wondering about initial attraction.)

whiterabbit: hey, two questions, if you don’t mind. First, is it OK to offer assistance in a grocery store? I was shopping the other day and saw a very short woman struggling to get something from a shelf. I offered to help, and she was appreciative, but in general, is it OK to offer or should someone wait for the person to request help?

And second (possibly unrelated to stature) to what does your username refer?


ETA: shoulda previewed, you answered while I was typing. And about what I thought you would say.