On August 22, the New York Times ran an obituary for Sandy Allen, the tallest woman in the world at over 7 foot 7 inches tall. The piece chronicled a bit of Allen's life, focusing on the social prejudice she faced because of her stature. In many ways, the social prejudice Allen navigated was a bit like the cultural barriers that many people of short stature endure. In particular, one paragraph of the story captured the similarities. Speaking of acceptance, the reporter, Arriane Cohen, writes that in the age of civil rights, differences began to be more accepted. That is,
For "everyone except very tall people. Unlike the cultural rules for weight or ethnicity or looks or disability, the social mores for height still allow bystanders to stare and say whatever they’re thinking. Which for a very tall person, let alone a giant like Sandy Allen, means: “Wow, you’re really tall!” (possibly while whipping out a cellphone camera).
Of course, Arriane is not completely correct. While people who are above average in stature may be the focus of mocks and jeers, they are not alone. Many people with disabilities, including people of short stature, still earn the unwanted the attention. This oversight is not the only incorrect piece of the article. Just one paragraph above the section quoted above, Cohen wrote,
"But the circuit dried up in the 1960s, when audiences began seeing giants not as magical creatures but as sufferers of a medical ailment. Zoo-style objectification — of hair-covered men, of midgets — was out of fashion. It was the era of civil rights: We’re all the same on the inside, and we’re going to treat people as equals."
If Cohen is attempting to build emphathy around physical differences in humanity, she is not going to get much support from the dwarfism community if she continues to use the word midget. But nevertheless, the article was empowering in so far that it was about a person who is strikingly different from people of short stature in a physical sense, but who has much in common with people of short stature in a cultural sense.
The complete article can be found at this link: