[Please know that the following is my personal experience and opinions.]
About a month ago I had a television producer reach out to me on social media. This happens fairly often; people looking for individuals with dwarfism for dating shows or some sort of reality program. She was inquiring about my interest in doing a unique “Survivalist” show that she is developing for the Discovery Channel.
My first instinct was to stick my nose up and say ‘NO.’ But since by goal is to change people’s perceptions surrounding dwarfism and different-ability in general, I agreed to talk about it with the suggestion that this show probably wouldn’t be for me.
Her response shocked me.
“I think being more athletic is important for the show, anyway.”
Excuse me, ma’am?
Immediately the stories began pouring into my mind. What was she insinuating? She was the one who reached out to me!
It was so easy for me to become offended. So I sat with it for a minute and really pondered how I was going to respond.
You see, in today’s world, there are many who look at the presence of individuals with short stature in the media as purely entertaining. Because we are different, it warrants ridicule and laughter and in some cases it becomes a form of entertainment for others. What really erks me about this is the fact that the word ‘midget’ usually follows along with this particular perception society has.
You know how I feel about that word. It is offensive. The word was orginally derived in reference to little people who were put on display and served as a side show at the circus. Personally I associate the word with mockery and disprespect. Just as people view the R-Word when talking about the mentally handicapped, the F-Word when talking about homosexual individuals or the N-Word when talking about someone’s skin color.
As I have said before, INDIFFERENCE is one of the greatest diseases that plagues this world.
Real disability comes from our attitudes and perceptions. They lay the foundation for our actions. Our family, friends, and the experiences we have had, all contribute to our sense of who we are and how we view the world. Each one of us deserves to be empowered in our own eyes and in the eyes of society. In my opinion, some of the ways that individuals with dwarfism are portrayed in the media is not empowering.
I share my story to educate and empower; to motivate people, no matter what their story may be and to encourage them to stay positive in the face of adversity. As some of society begins and others continue to see that individuals living with a different-ability are also people who know joy, fear, sadness and anger, and possess the capability to live BIG lives – the indifference is slowly pushed to the back burner. And as more and more people open up about their experiences the boundaries of separation are slowly erased.
So no, I am not going to participate in a reality “Survivor” show. Not because I am physically unable to but because I am choosing not to. Since the media ultimately influences the opinions of society as a whole, I choose to be seen as an empowered woman with dwarfism. A woman who wants to change how little people and all individuals with different-abilities are perceived in the media.
Won’t you join me?