The Bigger Picture

Five Things I Wish People Knew About Dwarfism

 

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I’m just a guy who is forty-eight inches tall. I speak only for myself and no other short-statured or average-sized individuals. Here are a few things I’d like the world to know about living with dwarfism.

  1. Dwarfism is not my identity.  I am not a halfling to be pitied, a pet to be pampered, or an object to be fetishized. I am not an inspiration. I am a human being figuring out this thing called life one step at a time, just like you.
  2. Dwarfism does not neutralize my feelings.  My silence in the face of your looks, stares, pointing, giggling, comments, and countless other feeble attempts at wit and not-so-subtle ways you attempt to demean me should not imply that I am unaffected or too timid to respond. Perhaps my silence belies the strength that comes from successfully thriving under the weight of challenges that might crush your soul before you reached the first hundred yards of walking a mile in my shoes. Perhaps I choose to take the higher road by not bringing to your attention the very shortcomings within yourself that you strive to deny that all the world so clearly sees.
  3. Dwarfism does not limit my human potential.  While the chances are slim to nil that I will be contracted as a member of an NBA, NFL, or MLB franchise, there are dozens—if not hundreds—of other options available to me to which I am better suited. A palette of only red, yellow, blue, and black in the hands of a novice is a limited range of colors; that palette in more experienced hands is a means to a painting rich with a spectrum of color.
  4. Dwarfism is not a license for you to express your thoughts to me regarding my physical appearance. After my first few years on the planet, I was well aware that I was shorter than the general population. So there’s no need to tell me that I adorable, cute, fun-sized, little, short, small, tiny, or how much you’d like to just pick me up and love on me (I can tell by the gleam in your eyes). I know this. This includes pats on the head and any other unsolicited public displays of affection reserved for pets. I exist for your commentary no more than you exist for mine.
  5. Dwarfism is a medical condition.  While it may be one of the first things you notice about me, it is only a small portion of who I am. I think of my dwarfism much the same way you would regard your hair or eye color, weight, emotional disposition, or race. These things are but only a piece of the whole of anyone. Perhaps dwarfism, like so many other anomalies of human nature, is one of the ways God reflects the humanity in us all.

Now if you can identify situations in your own life that parallel my experiences dwarfism—bravo! You, my friend, might be an honorary Little Person. Your membership card is in the mail.

5 thoughts on “Five Things I Wish People Knew About Dwarfism”

  1. H. Nemesis Nyx says:

    Clay,

    Thank you for making sure I saw this. I needed to read it. I have felt all of those things every day of my life and it is exhausting. It is nice to know that we aren’t alone, even when we feel like we are.

    I have always found it incredible that people actual tell ME that I am short. Do they think I also do not have eyeballs because I am small? Anyway, thank you again for pointing me here. I really appreciate you sharing with me.

    I’m loving the book too.

    Sincerely,

    -Cyborg

  2. Brian Cook says:

    When we were roommates, you were 49″. You’re getting old, man. LOL, great article!

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      Glad you enjoyed it, Brian. (Hopefully, that inch of shrinkage isn’t too visible.)

  3. Cindy White says:

    Amazing, brilliant and inspiring friend Clay….the only way I am remotely close to matching you in journey or struggle is that I am also searching, every day, for my better truth as I stumble through life. You just being here, being you, makes my life so much better. Love.

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      I … I … thank you, Cindy. We’re all in this together. We’re all trying figure it out, some of us more aware of our difference, and hopefully more and more of us are becoming aware of our similarities. It’s nice when our good rubs off on one another. Thanks for making my life so much better! <3

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