I found a picture of myself standing next to my 6’1″ brother. Photographs can be
wonderful memories but this one reminded me of just how short I am and of a group of
people like me.
The definition of dwarf is: A person, man or woman, standing 4’10” or shorter.
Currently there are over 100,000 dwarfs in America. An organization exists called “The
Little People Organization” founded by actor, Billy Barty. It has conferences all over the
world and unfortunately these conferences are where the little people feel the most
comfortable. Here they don’t get laughed at or teased about their height or shape.
I am writing this because, by definition, I am a dwarf. However, I am one of the
fortunate ones being 4’81/2″ tall and believe me those 1/2 inches are very important.
My Grandma Green’s first words upon seeing me shortly after my birth were “She looks
like a little midget”. This was because I was only 12 inches long when I was born. That’s
also how I got the nickname Midge. Because I was so small, my mom used dad’s hankies
as diapers and for some reason he never used them again. I wonder why?
Being short has its advantages as well as its challenges. One advantage; no one is
shorter than you (unless you’re standing next to a shorter dwarf). Challenges come in all
sizes and shapes, but for a woman, none more challenging than a certain test they
need for their health. It’s the Mammogram, however, I think it should be called a
Mammo-paninigram. Test machines for mammograms, like most other test machines, are
built to certain heights and specifications. For a short person it’s virtually impossible to
get into a comfortable position as the this machine’s table only comes down only so low.
Picture a 4’81/2″ woman standing there in front of the machine with her front parts
sticking up at a 30 degree angle, between two pieces of glass, swearing the pressur
setting is on the highest level on the machine. I think this is the torture all prisoners
should be put through. I guarantee they would admit to all the crimes ever
Imagine standing in the middle of a group of very tall trees looking up. That’s how
short people go through life everyday and we do it with pride and determination.
I believe we are teachers, showing the world how to live in unique situations,
adapting the world to meet our needs instead of adapting to the world. Our cars, houses,
and clothes have to be specially made just so we can live as comfortably as possible. This
may have been written from a woman’s perspective, but the men have just as many
challenges in their lives.
So remember the next time you see a “vertically challenged” person, don’t shy away
from them, call them names or feel sorry for them. Just understand that we are human
beings like everybody else and should be treated that way.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.