Sometimes, as a little person, it's as if you inhabit a different world than everybody else. The differences between the two worlds aren't because of the physical features of dwarfism but because of the differences between the place the little person presumes to take in the world, and the way in which other people perceive the place of the little person. The two incidents in St. Louis were examples of this. I was carrying on, minding my business, but I was not allowed to mind my own business because I was treated:
1. First, as an animal or a toy who could be acquired and taken home; and
2. Second, as some kind of creature who could cause harm and is feared.
Another example popped up this week. On Saturday, September 13, the Business Standard ran an article titled "Rare surgery frees 16 year-old from Dwarfism." I first read the article on Wednesday, after it was posted on Facebook. The title alone is shocking. The title seems so far from the reality of most people with dwarfism who I know that I thought the article was a joke. In fact, when the article was posted on Facebook, the Business Standard logo looked like the image to the left, which made me think BS actually implied bull shit, and that the article was some sort of satire.
Alas, the article was not a joke. The "rare surgery" referred to was limb lengthening. The 16-year old freed from the shackles of dwarfism gained 12 inches as a result of the procedure, which isn't really so rare, especially in Europe. He went from three feet in height to four feet in height. I happen to be about four feet two, a couple of inches taller than the 16-year-old. Even though I have two inches on the boy who is now dwarfism free, I still suffer from the curse of dwarfism, as the article delicately refers to my diagnosis of achondroplasia.
Now that the 16-year is dwarfism free, I wish him the best. I hope the doctors who lifted the curse continue their work, so that others may also someday be free.
I probably shouldn't make light of it all. For all I know, the experiences of the 16 year old boy are much different than mine, and for all I know his life may improve. Nevertheless, many people who are part of Little People of America, and many people who are part of the dwarfism community that I know, read the story. For the community that I am a part of, a story like this is insulting and embarrassing. It's embarrassing and insulting because our lives aren't going to improve if we gain 12 inches. Within the context of dwarfism, our lives will improve when we are freed from the curse of stigma. The Business Standard and this article did nothing but build upon the stigma that already exists.