It’s Dwarfism Awareness Month 2016

How apt that I’ve decided to resurrect this blog through dwarfism awareness month.

Did you know there are over 200 forms of dwarfism in the world? That dwarfism can be categorised into two broad types – proportionate and disproportionate. Achondroplasia is the most common form of dwarfism. You’ll read many posts and promotions about what we dwarves can do.

But you know what? Dwarfism is also this… it’s being stared at when you leave the house. It’s having to deal unwanted attention, not being able to get into a car and drive it straight away because you can’t see over the steering wheel. It’s not being able to cook safely in the kitchen unless it is adapted. It’s wearing infant-sized shoes and having to have always have your clothes altered. It’s being mistaken for a child when you fill up your car at the petrol station. It’s people telling you “you’re just small” or they just see you as [insert your name].  It’s maddening, it’s frustrating, it’s having to work twice as hard to get people to accept you at a level that they take for granted. It just is.

Do you know what dwarfism also is?

It’s an eye-opener. A sophisticated tool in deciphering a person’s integrity and nature more quickly than most. It certainly gives you an alternative perspective on life. It opens doors to places and people that others can only dream of. It broadens horizons. It makes you more independent and resilient. Dwarfism takes you on adventures.  While the body may not grow, the experience allows for growth in so many other areas. It makes you more aware, more empathetic of and towards others.

Dwarfism is so many things it’s hard to put it succinctly. It’s everything about your life and equally not representative of who you feel you are as a person*. It’s the balancing of honouring your dwarfism and not letting its limitations get in the way of your life.

…it’s good to be back!

*(that’s the shock you get when you see photos of yourself and realise the height difference).

Wow, has it really been over a year?

…since I’ve written a blog post here!

2015 has not been a dwarf year for me, or maybe it has and I’ve not had the energy to write about the experiences I’ve had. 

It’s been a strange year. Challenging on many levels, rewarding too. Realised my own strength, started to own my own story. As a person with dwarfism/disability I don’t think I’d realised how much of other peoples’ assumptions, attitudes and (non) expectations I had absorbed over the years. The process of starting to own ones own agency has been painful, ultimately rewarding.

Has anyone else with dwarfism experienced something similar where those nearest and dearest struggle when you start to come into your own? That you no longer fit the narrative they have for you? How did you deal with this? 

The Annoying Thing About Being A Dwarf #455

Ok, there are many things that are annoying about being a dwarf. The stares and comments and downright rudeness. That item you need in the shop is guaranteed to be on the top
blooming shelf.

For me though, one of more annoying things about my smallness, is the incompatibility of long sleeves (usually already rolled up and over) and washing up.

Why, oh, why do I have to look like I’ve taken a mid-morning shower every time I wash up the breakfast dishes, or dinner pots or, or… well, you get the picture. I know it’s not a serious gripe in the grand scheme of it all, but FFS.
Dripping long sleeves, water splashed tops – a lovely look I’m sure. Always seems to happen when I’m heading for the door and have no time to change too.

How to resolve this predicament?

Well I don’t think it’s a valid excuse to get out of doing the washing up all together and can imagine other half’s look on his face if I tried that one, lol.

I’d love a dishwasher, but space and finances do not permit this – le sigh!

Trying to find an apron, in my size and will fit my curves is a nigh on impossibility – probably. Apologises for the hyperbole, I’m feeling suitability aggrieved today!

I thought I’d just grumble on here instead like some grumpy old woman I feel like becoming some days. Meh!

I’m off, wishing you a dry sleeve day… mutter, mutter, grumble grumble.

Any one else have this problem? Solutions greatly received in the comments section.

Little Lady x

What Is Dwarfism To Me?

It’s dwarfism awareness month this October. I love the idea of helping your average person known a bit about what it is like living life from a physically different viewpoint.

But, I wonder, what does dwarfism mean to us? The people with the conditions, the syndromes? How do we view our own lives? The day-to-day stuff. Our selves as smaller people.

Personally, it’s been a difficult relationship trying to marry ‘Little Lady’ with the ‘day-to-day Lady’. Especially when most of my life I’ve been told I’m ‘normal’ by, I like to think, well-meaning relatives who neither have the emotional capability or nuance to realise saying that only heightened my feeling of being ‘different’.

On the one-hand, I’m desperate to meet other dwarves and share life experiences, on the other I’ve fought tooth and nail to be seen as more than my short stature being indicative of my mental capabilities. It makes for an exhausting life at times. A battle. One which I admit I’ve had few resources for of late.

That said, I love being my height. It’s taken me a while to get here, but I’ve figured that it’s the only body I’ll have in this life, I may as well accept it. I know it’s not something you hear very often, to say you love your body from someone with a disability. Sometimes I wonder if it’s frowned up on to think this way.

Hear me out though.

Having my particular form of dwarfism has given me far more opportunities than would have been available or expected from the small town I was brought up in. I’ve travelled to places that I would not have thought to. Met people from all walks of life. Been able to participate in education and employment opportunities I dreamed of as a child. Given me a self-confidence and knowing of my own mind, that can evade my peers.

Dwarfism has been as much an enabler as some of the rubbish that it has thrown into my life.

I’m human though, and I’d be lying if there were days I wish I wouldn’t be overlooked in the shops, that I could look people in the eye when talking or to stop the stares.

Dwarfism, swings in roundabouts, just like everyone else getting on with life, good days and bad. You have to move forward, but still managing to have a good moan along the way 😉

Little Lady x

The Flip Side Of Other People – The Too Helpful

All it feels like some days is that I get stared at, seeing people nudged each other and point not so subtlety at me as I walk past, or overlooked in the queue for the person behind me – again.

But then there is the flip side. The too helpful person? Come across one of those lately?

I was minding my own business in one of the cut price supermarkets. You know, the ones with the prices on a usually fluorescent background up a height above the shelves or at the back of racks hidden behind piles of produce or goods. I had one of those rare half an hours to myself, where food shopping, as a parent, is considered ‘me time’. Oh, the, joy.

So, there I was studying a multi-pack of travel wipes. I kept looking back and forth at the packet and price sign to see if they were actually antibacterial or not, when this lady comes up to me and tells me the price of them.

‘…er, thanks’, I said, a bit dumbstruck at first and then a smile with a realisation of what has just happened. My thinking overthinking of an everyday problem, antibacterial wipes or not, was misinterpreted to the outsider and looked like a disabled person problem.

In some ways I could be arsy and get all angsty about how the woman was presumptuous in assuming I was having access difficulties, but to be fair, if no one had been around and I couldn’t see the price of the blooming wipes, I would’ve been pretty peeved and been in a bad mood for the rest of the shopping trip. I had a warm fuzzy glow that I might have just been someone’s good deed of the day, and to be honest, gave me a giggle at the same time.

I realised though, that no matter where I am, what I’m doing or what even what I’m thinking about, there will that ‘don’t forget you’re little’ at any given moment. Sometimes these moments are damn horrible, other times annoying as you just wish to get on with your life, other times it can actually make you smile and realise not all unwanted attention is unkind.

Baby Born With Double Dwarfism In The UK

Baby, Nathan Phillips, was born with two types of dwarfism inherited from both parents.  I remember reading about Nathan in the paper and thinking what’s this double dwarfism about and being pretty amazed by the story. I’ve never heard of this being possible!

You might remember Nathan’s Mum, Laura from the Channel4 programme ‘Seven Dwarves’ that aired back in 2011.

The video below explains more about their story, stick with it even though it sounds a bit robotic.

Nathan looks like an absolute cutie – belated congratulations to mum and dad!

Channel4 Seven Dwarves »

Socially Awkward Dwarf Moment #995

He! There are times when being little does give you a good giggle.

Me, the hubby, the in-laws along with LO were dining out at the local cavery.

Now for anyone who doesn’t know what a carvery is, it’s where one can get a full English Sunday roast literally every day of the week – should one care too – what a heavenly thought!

Anyway, back to the story. In this particular venue, under 3’s are given there own brightly coloured IKEA plastic plate to share their parent’s dinner.

I reach the counter, which I never see over and the server usually never sees me. The chef bends down to see me through the gap and there’s that split second he clocks the plastic plate and I can tell what he’s thinking/hyperventilating about…

‘Is she wanting a child’s size portion on that plate, oh god, what do I do? She’s an adult, what do I say?!?’

I put the plate under my arm, smile and look at the adult plates.

He says, ‘What can I get you love?’

The moment passes. We both breathe easy again and move on.

Oh man, I could’ve had some fun with that situation, couldn’t I and passed him that plate for the hell of it. But no, me and the hubby had a good giggle, recounting it later on.

I wonder if these sort of experiences will still happen when I’ve got grey hair…

Review: ITV Tonight Programme: Against The Odds

I always hold my breath when it comes to ITV’s handling of disability as programming usually sets my teeth on edge due to the narrative usually adopted.

So, after watching my daily fix of Emmerdale, and I saw the programme’s title was ‘Against The Odds’. Wow, I thought, maybe this is an actual look at the root cause as to why people with disabilities are being subjected to hate… well as much as a populist programme such as ITV’s Tonight can and will.

The programme focused on the positive aspects of three people interviewed – Mark, with Down Syndrome, Andy, with a severe language disorder and Fleur a budding Special Olympics athlete. Living independently, getting a job and winning medals.

All good stuff.

What the programme didn’t address was why people with learning difficulties are being targeted for harassment and violence in 2014, often due to the media itself perpetuating the Government’s rhetoric that people with disabilities i.e. those on benefits are nothing but scroungers – jeez, thanks media!

The reporting, throughout on the whole was fairly balanced insight of both the interviewees and the parents/carers to having their say. Then the clanger! Right at the end and slipped back into normie patronising speak, when the narrator turned around and said Fleur, who had just won a running medal, had ‘done her parents proud…’ WTH?!? Not the hours of hard training and dedication that the lady herself had put into to make HERSELF proud! No, her achievement, as is usually the case for a disabled person is attributed, to the parents, carers, organisation – not the actual disabled person themselves. It’s maddening! Would Paula Radcliffe or Usain bolt Bolt be talked about in such terms after winning a medal? Attributed to their parents or trainer?! No!

I truly believe that when you have disabled people being given an actual voice, rather than it being channeled through a parent, a carer or journalist, there will be equality and acceptance. When we get over the them and us mentality, when you have disabled people making mainstream programming including their own voices, instead of being spoken for and not discussed in such condensing terms, will we see something akin to true acceptance of disabled people in society.

Rant over, I’m off to make a cuppa x

You can watch the full programme here –