The motivation behind Hello Little Lady has always been to provide a platform and give a voice of the day-to-day experiences of living with dwarfism.
Over the 9 years this has primarily been achieved through my own writing. However a number of years now I have held creative ideas to create ‘Dwarf’ arts and culture that provides insight into life of people living with dwarfism, by people with dwarfism.
This original concept came into thought from attending my first adult dwarf convention in 2006 at the age of 27. The experience sparking my own ideas for dwarf-related exhibitions, inspired primarily by the large-scale, participatory-nature of Spencer Tunick installation at the Baltic in Gateshead. Nudity aside, I was in awe of the scale of the project, that such artworks could happen on my regional doorstep, but mostly the ability to utilise people to create such a statement in their physical surroundings.
Fast-forward a decade, a chance meeting with my MA leader and an invitation to a participatory artists support and networking lunch, has finally provided the vocabulary, the opportunity for collaboration and importantly the confidence to develop and communicate my aspirations into the present.
People and Works Admired
Over the past 10 years I have noticed people with dwarfism appearing more in mainstream media and arts, not merely for entertainment purposes, but down to their talent.
Those who I have found inspirational, and more so relatable, include:
- Kiruna Stamell (https://www.kirunastamell.net/) – the UK-based, Australian actress whose immense body of work shows that having dwarfism doesn’t mean being restricted to panto.
- Sinéad Burke – Blogging as Minnie Melange, Sinead blogs about fashion, social media and the arts. Her TED NYC talk about Why design should include everyone is a must for those in positions of power to influence our surroundings.
- Mary Russell – Bursting onto the public scene in The Undateables and more recently the BBC documentary “Without Limits”, Mary is passionate about fashion, has modelled globally and runs the successful Facebook Page – Dwarfism Beautiful. Be sure to check out Mary’s Instagram account too.
- Simon Minty – is a disability and diversity consultant who has worked with the likes of Google, British Council and many other organisations. He also currently hosts the BBC Ouch Podcast and the Phil and Simon Show podcast. Simon also co-founded and is a producer the comedy troupe Abnormally Funny People.
- Tanya Lee Davis – is a dwarf comedienne from Canada. She turns the notion of laughing at someone with dwarfism for comedic purposes, to laughing with a person with dwarfism because of our experiences.
Works that have also had an impact on my own journey with dwarfism include:
- Every Time You Look at Me (2004) a disability love story that was ahead of its time, with Lisa Hammond,
- More recently the BBC episode Call The MidWife (2017), with Rachel Denning and Dean Whatton
- The first ever book of fiction book that included a character with dwarfism, ‘We Are Giants’ by Amber Lee Dodds (2016).
These works and the rise of the roles models above have been heartening and heartbreaking at the same time. As a child and teenager, I can now reflect as an adult, on the lack of representation in terms of dwarf role models growing up, and the sense of isolation and loneliness this brought. There were no books, films or reflections of my disability in any mainstream media or culture. Only the stereotypical Snow White and the Seven dwarves or that of a person with dwarfism being portrayed in some mythical way.
Aims for Hello Little Lady in 2018?
Hello Little Lady has primarily been my own platform for talking about the issues I face as a person with dwarfism. There was a point I wondered if there was anything left to talk about. However, incidents and issues that have effected me personally, highlight that there is a need for us, as a community to have our voice heard. Traditionally this has been through charitable work to raise awareness, which is vitally important, but another path needs to be developed.
I long to hear the stories of my dwarf peers. The life experiences, the expectations Not to raise awareness to the wider society, but for ourselves. We are rich and diverse group of people. Where are the books, the films, the art works that reflect who we are and what we go through in life with dwarfism?
It’s a bold statement, I know, however, it is time for people with dwarfism to have our voices heard.
It’s time to create our own art, our own literature, film, comedy and more.
And the vehicle for this…?
…and that’s what Hello Little Lady aims to do, to provide the platform and the safe space to enable these stories, our voices to be heard and shared. To inspire the next generation of kids with our disability to see themselves reflected back.
Watch this space…