We are now into the third month of the lockdown and I have found a few unexpected benefits of social distancing as a Dwarf person.
I don’t aim to detract from anyone’s personal experiences. It’s affected many aspects of life and brought about much stress and anxiety for many people, including myself.
As a Dwarf person though, there have been a couple of unexpected benefits which I talk about below.
No More Hand Shakes, Touching or Hugs
This is probably an issue that Dwarf women will be able to relate to more readily – it’s the relief of not having to deal with people wanting to touch you.
And I don’t mean the randoms on the street – but usually, blokes you know, who like to intimidate you with their height and try and make a fuss while copping a feel, not a grope, but a hug that they wouldn’t be as willing to go for with an average-height woman.
There’s nothing untoward seemingly going on, but as Dwarf ladies, we’re very well aware of the power play at hand. It’s been a relief not to have to handshake someone who inevitably goes in for a cuddle.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a cuddle as much as the next person. It’s another micro-aggression we are constantly scanning for and managing. It’s situations like this, that has stopped because of social distancing that has brought an immense amount of relief.
As we start to venture out into the world again, I think this is one aspect that I would be relieved to stay in place for quite some time.
Respite from Scanning The Room
As we all know, going to most places, as a Dwarf person, is a feat in planning and assessing the situations we are find ourselves. We know areas, places and times where we are most likely to experience negative attention or would prove to be a challenge physically.
Yet, as most of us were forced to stay in our homes, I realised, personally, that there was some respite from walking into a room or space and not having to read the room for potential issues.
That feeling of not being ‘switched-on’ all of the time while out and about has left me bewildered at times. I suspect professionals would say this is trauma-related. For me, it proves how much we have to deal with to interact in society and how few resources, such as coping strategies or support services, that are out there to help our community to manage interactions.
Personally, for me, this was a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, no longer going to shops or the park or other places we would usually visit, meaning I have been no longer dealing with stares. There was also some respite from this with my daily wander with my daughter – most of the time.
Having spoken with friends within the community, it appears it is a bit of a shock when we go back into the world and see people gawping at us. The respite has been palpable.
Dr Erin Pritchard mentioned on the Facebook Page, that people have been respecting the 2-metre social distancing rule, and not reaching over her in supermarkets.
Personally, I’ve found the opposite. With average-height people refusing to move out of the way for me when walking past me and deliberately running me off the path in order to display dominance with the party they are with. It’s something I noticed, pre-pandemic and has been solidified in how my body is treated when out and about.
My husband suggested I sneeze as they walk past…
Initially, I was perturbed by the zest and zeal that the non-disabled world so readily embraced the online world to start providing arts, culture, media and education. I remember chatting to a friend early on in the lockdown about how it felt galling to see all these accommodations when it’s something that the disabled community have been asking for for years… and suddenly, it can be managed…
This Fear of Missing Out was warranted. As my good friend said, it was time for us to rest as we have been active online for years. They were right, and slowly, as a family, we’ve found our routine and adapted. Meaning we’ve been able to interact and join in with classes and online events more readily, as we come out of survival mode.
Recently, we’ve participated in an art class for my daughter, an art jam hosted by the wonderful artist and friend, Lauren Saunders and signed up for Tai Chi and contributed to the reUNION Radio Show – all from the comfort of our own home.
There’s been no anxiety at the thought of leaving the house to go somewhere, no planning how to get there or worrying about parking or arriving at a venue safely, no scanning or reading of the rooms. The chance to be present and interact on a level-platform has been great.
Over to you…
How about you? What have the unintended benefits of social distancing meant for you?
- Dr Erin Pritchard’s – The Mighty Article – Why COVID-19 Self-Isolation Hasn’t Changed Much for Me as Someone With Dwarfism