All the World's a Stage

Self-Loathing versus Self-Acceptance

The inaugural cast of "Little Women: New York."

Recently there’s been a spate of shows featuring Little People—Pit Boss, The Little Couple, Little People Big World, and Little Women: LA. The majority of these series showcase in both comic and dramatic situations 1) the challenges unique to Little People, and 2) how the triumphs, hopes, and dreams of the vertically challenged are the same as those of average height.

I only tune into these shows occasionally because … well, I’m living those experiences. Been there, done most of that, and then some.

Little Women: NY is the latest offering from Lifetime to feature Little People and I confess I’m hooked, namely because three very good friends of mine from my days with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular are featured in the show. And what good friend doesn’t support other friends?

On the surface, tonight’s episode centered around conflict in the cast over Little People pursuing careers in entertainment versus non-entertainment careers. Jazmin took another step in pursuing her dream in becoming an entertainer and joined several members of the cast in a dance performance. Her husband expressed reservations about his wife presenting herself to the public in an unseemly manner. Once assured the even would be tasteful, he caved in, gave his okay, but was unable to attend the performance. Jazmin, seeking a little moral support, invited her sister-in-law Dawn (also a Little Person) to see her.

The review goes off without a hitch, but afterwards—in true reality TV form—Dawn minces no words in berating Jazmin and the others for setting perceptions about Little People back “30 years” with their performance. And from there, the show spiraled out of control.

A little background on Dawn’s point of view  For centuries the only jobs short-statured people who weren’t institutionalized (or killed at birth) could get were as court jesters, in circuses, and in side shows. Since then, short-statured individuals have fought to better their standing in society by achieving success in countless fields outside the entertainment industry.

The opposing point of view  Little People in the entertainment industry work in that industry because they choose to do so, the same as a basketball player, a chemist, a lawyer, a drummer. And success in that field, is achieved with talent, hard work, and timing. I doubt anyone would say that Peter Dinklage has sold out by performing in his films.

So here’s the thing … well several things actually … and it pains me that this bears repeating, but—

  1. Every human being is made in the image of God. The tall, the small, the black, the white, thin, obese and everything in between. In God’s eyes, none of us is better than the other; despite our station in life or the number of commas on our paychecks.
  2. We are all given one life to live. We don’t get to live ours and decide how someone else should live theirs. We’re all on the same journey trying to figure it all out as we go along. We all want the same thing: to be heard, understood, known, and accepted by others.
  3. We’re called to love one another. This self-explanatory credo exists in some form in just about every culture on the face of the earth so I don’t need to belabor the point.

But if you dig a little deeper, tonight’s show was about self-loathing versus self-acceptance.

Granted, I don’t know Dawn. I’ve never met her. But based on what I saw on the show tonight, Dawn has limited her self-image to the point of view she thinks others hold of her, that of a Little Person. Jazmin and the others see themselves as people first, unrestricted by what other might perceive as limitations, and are free to express themselves in whatever career they choose.

We’re all called to be who God created us to be, but we all have things about ourselves that we must overcome. Some people’s things are just a bit more obvious than others. Our duty is to discover who we’re called to be and live toward that goal with the utmost conviction. If only everyone could see past their challenges and live out their purpose boldly, the world might be a little bit more enjoyable.

10 thoughts on “Self-Loathing versus Self-Acceptance”

  1. Dave Capp says:

    Well said Clay. I don’t have cable so I don’t watch any of these shows you mentioned but they sound interesting

  2. Leann says:

    Well stated Clay but as all of us “entertainers” know, this is all for ratings. Having experience w/ reality shows personally, these situations are typically prompted & staged. Most of the time w/o the talent’s consent. They are entertaining not educating. We shouldn’t take any of the information to heart. We shouldn’t personally call any of these ladies out. When the cameras are not rolling, these people remain our family & friends forever. Peace 🙂

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      Leann, I’m sure a lot people are aware that “reality” shows are contrived situations designed for emotional impact and to secure ratings. My experience with reality shows is limited to viewing the finished product and occasional live-tweeting during a broadcast, so you know far more about this than I do. Frankly, I applaud the producers because they brought up a topic that every Little Person contends with on a daily basis: stigmas, misconceptions, and stereotypes. And they brilliantly presented the subject matter in a way that was both informative (viewers got to see opposing viewpoints) and entertaining (albeit at a few of the cast members expense).

      As I said in my post, I don’t know Dawn. I’ve never met her. I’m sure she’s a lovely person, otherwise the producers would never have cast her. But there’s a way to disagree in opinions without being unduly disagreeable. If you take a look at my post again, I think you’ll see that my comments were directed at the societal issue as demonstrated in the cast’s interaction and not an individual calling out. I’m sure all the ladies and Jason are still friends and probably holed away in a swanky New York lounge having a cocktail and chuckling over all of this.

  3. Sitzy says:

    Well stated, Clay.

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      Thank you, Sitzy.

  4. Clay Rivers says:

    I received this comment from Jen Kendall and am posting it on her behalf as WordPress for some reason keeps looping her in a password round-about … also I think it’s thoughtful and worthy of your time.

    “I read an article on how a black person carries the entire weight of how the black community, as a whole, is perceived every time they walk out the door. Whereas a white person does not. If they screw up, they’re just one person who made a mistake.

    While the “Should Little People (LP’s) be on stage?” debate is far less concerning, it is none the less comparable. As an entertainer myself, it’s exhausting to look at all the other LP foot-tappers and have to try and constantly justify my job. It’s a job. And it pays my bills. I enjoy it and it’s enriched my life in countless ways. I am forever failing to see the problem. Maybe because I’m also failing to recognize that the perception of all LP’s (in all the world) falls on my shoulders.

    I know many LP’s work hard to collectively improve our quality of life and acceptance in society. Their job would be much easier if we would all just join together and quit all the things that do not fall into the Doctor/Lawyer/Activist realm. But they only frustrate themselves. They get frustrated because I view myself as they want average-sized people to view all of us. As a human being. Equal in every way. But that’s not good enough. I need to be so self-aware of my little-ness as to constantly feel the need to prove myself. Exhausting.”


  5. Dawn says:

    Very well said sir.

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      Thank you, Dawn.

  6. Faye (Stoeffler) Bryant says:

    Well said, my friend. Too often I let challenges become walls that keep me trapped and don’t accomplish what the Creator planned for me.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      Faye, I hear you. Believe me. It’s kinda like “welcome to the human condition.” I, too, find myself in remedial life classes on this same subject. Thanks for reading and responding.

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