Well, what a week for the #Dwarfism community (week 10th January). From Paralympian, Will Perry, raising awareness about the abuse we face as a community, to Dr Erin Pritchard’s successful campaigning to asking Marks and Spencers to rename their Midget Gem sweets to Mini Gems.
Public reactions have been telling
Personally, I was incredibly angry and frustrated when I watched Will’s video. It really feels like nothing has changed for how our community is viewed by wider society, let alone the challenges we face understood – nor attempted to. People seem to be more outraged at changing the name of a sweet rather than how a particular community faces daily abuse for the way we are born.
Those that can, need to make space for the Dwarfism community – ASAP!
While there have been some decent conversations have been had this week, we were reminded all too well of the challenges faced for acceptance. It’s really not enough to call the bullies out when you see us being picked on – you need to go much, much further. We still have a massive mountain to climb every day for acceptance and recognition of our lived experiences – you can help us with this!
Start by creating and sharing opportunities with us. Platform our lived experience and give us space to hear our voices and stories.
Not sure how? Read the pointers below as a guide.
How you can be a better ally to the Dwarfism community
- First and foremost acknowledge and validate our lived experiences.
- Call out comedians who continue to other Dwarf people. Comedians who are using the M word or talking about us in a derogative way for a cheap laugh. Ideally, at the time and after the event. Complain to organisers. If it’s on TV or streaming, submit a complaint.
- Stop using ableist language to silence our voices – we’re not ‘just little’. Don’t dismiss our experiences with phrases like… “I don’t see you as little, I just see you as, Steph”. My dwarfism forms part of my identity, I don’t have the chance to not ‘see’ it.
- Don’t use terms like ‘overcome’ or ‘suffer’ when talking to us about our conditions. I live with my dwarfism. I do, however, suffer terrible frustration when trying to overcome people pitying me. I am quite happy being me, thanks.
- Learn not to perpetuate stereotypes and prejudice – we’re not all happy, sad, ‘just little’.
- Call out your mates when they are using the M-word – whether in conversation or specifically towards or mocking a person with Dwarfism.
- Report bullies who are taking photographs of us. Get behind the Stop Dwarfism Hate campaign.
- Watch your language – when someone with average height is being an idiot – don’t use words like ‘little’, ‘small’, the M-word etc to belittle the person, call them out for who they are!
- Provide us with genuine opportunities in our careers – adjustments, accessibility, support all make a difference. Also, realise equity is far more equal than equality. Stop equating height to the ability to do a job!
- Save your pity. We’re not exceptional for getting out of bed this morning.
- Don’t touch us for good luck! You do realise that that is just plain weird, right?!
- Speaking of physical contact – don’t pick us up without permission. You do realise that that is assault if you do?
- Think twice before you hire a human being for your stag, hen, nightclub party. If you must, what safeguarding measures can you put in place to ensure the professional you are hiring is treated and viewed with respect?
- Realise that not all dwarfisms are the same. While Achondroplasia is the most common form of dwarfism, there is a huge range of restricted growth conditions that have yet to have any sort of recognition in the mainstream.
- Stop sharing Dwarf memes. They may be funny to you, but not when you’ve heard and seen them for the millionth time. It perpetuates prejudice towards us as a community. Report such posts to the social media platform they are published on for disability hate.
- We are a rich array of voices and stories that have yet to be told – start platforming them and funding projects that enable us to advocate for ourselves.
- Film, TV, Radio and Streaming companies – stop commissioning work that is derogative towards our community. How about you let us into the commissioning rooms? Or better still develop Dwarf talent to be front and centre. Goodness, I would love to see a member of our community reading the news, presenting a national radio show or the star talent of a drama.
- Arts and Cultural organisations – same as above. You also need to start funding projects and provide space and place for us to be able to share our lived experiences.
- Fashion – start thinking about how you can create clothing that actually fits our proportions, or at least provide a service that can help with alterations. Include us on the runway too.
- Disability organisations – start supporting us. We tend to be at the back of a very long queue for recognition and societal outrage of how we are treated. You have the ability to change this!
Over to you
What are your thoughts on how society can be a better ally to the Dwarfism community? Have any ideas been left out? Share them below.