To celebrate Dwarfism Awareness Month 2019, I’m sharing some of the photographs from the ‘You’re Just Little’ exhibition which debuted in 2018. The exhibition shows the challenges, obstacles and societal assumptions that Dwarf people face on a daily basis.
THE STORY BEHIND THE PHOTOGRAPH
I was in the middle of taking photos from my everyday life and on this particular day, I walked into one of my favourite clothes shops – H&M. Now being a favourite shop doesn’t mean I frequent it very often. I don’t go shopping very often at all. I would like to, yet I walk into a clothes shop and I know it’s going to be a difficult experience from start to finish.
This photograph shows the bottom rail of clothing in the shop. The rails are always above my height of 4ft 4″ (133cm) and I’m always looking face on at the clothes on offer. Higher shelves are outright inaccessible. Meaning I have to rely on the kindness of strangers (or take a reluctant husband) and ask for help to reach items that catch my eye.
Not only is the physical environment of a clothing shop inaccessible to me. I also know that about 99% of adult, high-street fashion will not fit my body shape.
People will say to me ” Oh, it must be cheaper as you’ll be able to wear kids clothes”, to which I’ll reply, humorously, “I have boobs and a bum”.
I have a women’s shape body, yet even petite sizes are not proportionate to my body shape. Even with a proportionate form of dwarfism, most of the clothes I buy need some form of alteration. This adds to the cost of accessing and wearing fashion. It’s these hidden costs and the physical challenges of accessing fashion that make life with dwarfism frustrating. Society does not reflect my body shape back at me. Not on the shelf, not in fashion magazines, and most certainly not in the clothes themselves.
To be honest, I’ve had a difficult relationship for me with clothing over the years. I actively avoid going clothes shopping unless absolutely necessary.
Rising Dwarf Fashion Stars
There is light, though. Mary Russell’s inclusion on the Grazia magazine front cover, back in September 2018, pioneered raising awareness of the inaccessibility of fashion our community faces. I admired Mary’s get up and go campaign #MySilhouetteMatters to demand better inclusion in fashion for Dwarf people.
Seeing the younger generation come through with their passion for fashion on Instagram, with influencers such as A Slice of Cait, offers hope for wider representation of various dwarf body shapes too.
It seems that my hope is that clothes shops and fashion itself will cater to my type of body, perhaps sooner rather than later.
FOLLOW THE PHOTOGRAPH’S STORIES THROUGHOUT DWARFISM AWARENESS MONTH
Each day I share an insight into the stories and the main themes that each of the photographs represents to help celebrate Dwarfism Awareness month.