Being Short is not a Disability

A tiny woman stands in the hardware aisle in a local home improvement store. She hears a small girl calling to someone a short distance away. “Hey lady”. A few moments later, another call. “Hey lady.” The tiny woman looks around and realizes that she is the only other person in the aisle, so she focuses on the small child. Their eyes meet as the little girl comes closer. “How come you’re so small?” she blurts out boldly. The tiny woman who is barely four foot seven, now feels even smaller next to the six year old girl who is nearly her size. The woman has been through similar scenarios before, since she has always been shorter than most people her age. She chuckles and responds in a friendly manner that some people just don’t grow as tall as others.

The inquisitive child ponders the answer, then continues with her interrogation. “Do you have kids, are they taller than you, how tall are your mother and father, etc.” The tiny woman is a bit surprised because for the most part, she usually only receives stares or a brief remark from some teenager calling her “shorty” or something similar. The woman is amused and at the same time wondering where the girls mother is, but she calmly goes on to explain the minor details of her family history. The little girl hangs on her every word. A moment later, the mother returns and the little girl is so excited that she begins tugging on her mommy’s arm and shouts “Look mommy, it’s a little lady.” Needless to say, the girls mother is totally embarrassed by her daughters behavior and she emphatically apologizes to the tiny woman. She is so embarrassed that she tugs on the girls hand and begins to pull her away.

The tiny woman finds the actions of the mother even more comical, acting like her daughter was questioning a two headed person. She lets the mother know that although she was surprised by the little girls questioning, she was in no way offended by her need to ask. Children are curious by nature, she explained and if the adult does not mind offering an answer, it should be welcomed.

That tiny woman is me. I have not grown one single inch since the seventh grade. I am now in my early fifties. I have always been more petite than any of my friends. For the most part, people have just accepted me as I am. I will admit that when I was a teenager, there were sometimes rude comments from boys and girls. I did feel a bit self conscious as I heard them laughing as I would walk by but it was never enough to make an issue out of it or to tell anyone about it. My feelings were sometimes hurt and there were moments I had wished I was taller, though I never verbalized that to anyone. It seemed silly. I had a small circle of good friends who liked me for me and I had decided that was good enough. Convincing my self of that was something altogether different. I was always looking to see if people were staring at me, whispering about me, making funny jokes amongst themselves about my height.

Height did not run in my family. My mother was 5’2″, my father 5’6. My younger sister towered over all of us at 5’4″. We certainly were not a family of midgets by the usual standards. Our bodies were perfectly proportioned for our heights and weights. We were just of short stature. As I got older and wiser, my height became less important to me. I dated many people much taller than myself and it never really presented a problem. Luckily, dancing was not one of my interests. I have come to realize that being tiny is nothing to be self conscious about. Anything you see as a limitation will only remain so if you let it. For me, the obvious things are mirrors hung to high in public restrooms, tall counters at banks, items placed too high on store shelves. I have a reaching tool to assist me in getting my clothes out of the washing machine. The same tool I use in putting canned goods away or getting them down from my wall cabinets. My friends find it amusing and I’ve learned to go right along with them. When someone makes a joke about my height, I always have a playful comeback. Little Debbie has become a nickname. The TV show Little People Big World has brought me into the limelight, even though I am not a dwarf. A family member even gave me a Rolloff Farms t-shirt as a gift this Christmassecretly hoping that my feelings would not be hurt. I love it and have people talking to me all the time about my height when I wear it.

Basically, I have always been a shy, quiet sort of woman but now I feel almost celebrity like. It has been a good self confidence builder for me. I’m just short but because of that, people remember me. They remember my smile, my warm personalitymy size is just an added bonus.

I have come to realize that what I had long thought of as some sort of disability, is nothing more than me being a little bit different from everyone else. The differences in each of us make us special and I have come to have a much better understanding of those with actual disabilities.

I have learned that it is so important to love who you are before you can expect the world to love you. Embrace the qualities you have to offer others and don’t let anything hold you back.