Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why is this still ok?

Today as I was reading Facebook, I came across a picture that bothered me. Maybe it was my hormones raging, maybe it was my oversensitivity, maybe I'm still coming to terms with having a daughter with dwarfism, I don't know. I do know that a year ago, I might have chuckled and not given it a second thought - but today, I thought of my sweet Maddy and instead it made me cry. 

The picture was innocent enough, a teenage boy dressed up as an elf - wearing the typical elf hat, kneeling on the ground so that his knees could be in the shoes, arms not in the sleeves of his jacket - which gave him a pretty accurate "proportion" for the dwarf elf he was trying to represent. So much so that I did a double take, before realising that it was just an average height kid having some fun. 

I know that most people in our society see nothing wrong with the above picture. It's just a bit of Christmas fun. But as the parent of a child with dwarfism, I wonder - how will this society affect my daughter as she grows up? Why is it that it is still ok to stereotype dwarfs and to make fun of them? 

I previously wrote about my thoughts about Hollywood's representation of dwarfism -  and people were quick to tell me that there are now a small number of short statured people who have been cast in non-stereotypical roles, however this still appears to be the exception, not the norm. Most dwarfs in movies these days are still playing the roles of leprechauns, oompa loompas, angry dwarfs who kick people in the shins or some kind of magician's apprentice. They rarely (but still occasionally) play "a normal person who happens to be short statured".

If someone dressed up and acted as though they were affected by a mental disability for Halloween, people would be horrified. If I took out my newborn and had him on fake oxygen just to "dress up", that would not be accepted. Society has made it very clear that it is NOT ok to mock disabilities and special needs.

Except for dwarfs? 

Disclaimer: I know that in posting this, there is a chance that someone who knows the photo I am talking about will read it and recognise what I'm talking about. I know that the picture was taken innocently and was not meant to mock anyone. I am not attacking the photo, I'm just musing about how our society portrays dwarfism - and how people including myself never think about it until they are personally affected by it. I am not personally offended by the picture and mean no offense in anything that I've written. My heart just aches for my daughter who lives in a society where people will most likely laugh at her differences. 


  1. Hey Nicole --- You bring up a good point! As a mother, I can only imagine how you must feel. You would not be doing your "Job" right as a Mommy ....if you did not want to protect your baby girl from the cruel world we live in. Having been born with CP --- I speak from experience! With the love and support from you and Bernard..... Maddy will grow up to be a very strong individual. It has been my experience that disablities (whatever they may be) give you a different view on life. Maddy will be able to "see through" people and develop "True" friendships..... rather than just fake friends or aquaintances.

    I am not going to lie to you......growing up "different" than other kids is extremely difficult!! That is where You and Bernard come in -- The unconditional love of my Mom and Dad made the difference.

    Once I became a parent ..... I realized how difficult my tears must have been for them! Now, I know how amazing my Mom and Dad really were. On top all of my physical problems, my sister had 3rd degree burns on 70% of her body!! They had their hands full for sure! With God's help and their steadfast love and support -- we made it.

    Without a doubt -- God placed Maddy in the right home, with a wonderful Mom and Dad! Take it one day at a time!!
    Love to you all -- and I am giving you a hug in my heart! You are in our prayers!

    Jen Pomerinke

  2. If you're looking for TV that will aid in her feeling accepted or to see "little people" (I don't know what acceptable term to use, I'm sorry) then you might look into purchasing these DVD's:

    I'm sure you've heard of, or watched, their show. If not, they both have drawfism, she's a pediatrician and he's a businessman and they are quite successful in their fields.

  3. Good point. You're so right...

    God bless you and your sweet girls.


  4. The very day I read this post, someone at work told a joke about "midgets" and it's one I normally would have laughed at...just because I know the person truly meant nothing offensive by the joke. But on this day, I didn't find myself able to laugh. I didn't tell them that it was inappropriate, because I wouldn't have thought it was inappropriate just a short year ago. But now, I can think of Maddy, and what you had just said about the jokes - Those jokes aren't funny anymore.

    It's interesting that the disabilities we can joke about are the ones that we don't have any personal experience with. Once that disability becomes personal, we no longer find those jokes funny.

    Looking forward to what 2011 has in store for your family!!