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JULY 1999 | VOL. 3, NO. 7



THAT"S LIFE

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MELISSA SPEIGHTS, who was born and raised in Texas, sees writing as a way of guiding, inspiring and teaching. She is a contributing writer to Renaissance Online Magazine.


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Don't Overlook Us
Short people are real people too

MELISSA SPEIGHTS

Shrimp, runt, dwarf, and midget are just a few names that, like myself, people of short stature often hear.

So many people in today's society insult those of us who are not as fortunate as others when it comes to being "normal."

High school is the worst place for showing this type of prejudice. This is probably because teens are not mature enough to handle the fact that people can be shorter than them. They would much rather have the urge of blasting out "Maybe if we trip her she will grow." The most commonly used phrase I often heard at school is "Are your parents midgets too, or were you adopted?" Such remarks, surprisingly enough, can hurt. I may not show it at first, or even fight back. But, deep down inside I was crying out for help.

I have learned from much experience that students are not the only ones guilty of this, but teachers are too. Sure, they may not mean it, but they can slip too, and it is always noticed. A simple "Please stand up when you are told," when I am already standing up ruins my day. Sure, it might have been an accident, the first time, but when they keep repeating it over and over embarrassing you to death. Well then, the teacher needs to stand back, rethink his actions and apologize. In my case, the teacher just smugly laughed it off as if nothing wrong had just occurred. But, to me, my day was completely ruined. That teacher should have rightly apologized and set an example for the rest of the class. But, now all eyes were on me and my short stature.

Of course these situations do not only arise at school. Public places often stir things up a bit as well. Little kids and their parents rank right up as being quite inconsiderate to those of us who are not of "normal" height. It is not necessarily the child's fault, but the parents' responsibility. They are supposed to teach their child not to stare or to call us names regarding our height.

After all, I go shopping at the mall or got to the movies just to relax and have a good time like everyone else does. I most certainly do not go there to be stared at by small kids and to hear a child telling their mother "I am taller than her" or "Hey, look at her mommy, is she a little girl like me?". My favorite is when the child comes right up to me in a store while I am in line and put their hand to their head and measure their height to mine, thinking I cannot see them. At first, I stare at the child thinking they better back away before I become upset. Then I realize that the child is not the guilty party here; the parents are for not correcting their child. But, what hurts even worse is when the parents do not even try stop their child's actions or apologize for what just happened. Since those parents do not realize this, it hurts. The parents of these children should acknowledge this and share it with their children and other mothers on how to handle this delicate situation. I do not want to be passed by like an inanimate object. Please do not give me that cold glare as if I were the one making the comments. It hurts to see my feelings being ignored like this. I am a human too.

However, adults can also be just as thoughtless when it comes to dealing with people who are short. Often they pity us, or feel sorry for us. Why? We are not handicapped or disabled. We are not mentally challenged. They may not realize it, but we small people do not need to felt sorry for, or pitied. What we need is support. Sure small people are not the only ones who get this kind of treatment, but we are the ones most commonly overlooked. Too often you hear of prejudices being geared towards those with major disabilities, or of race or religion, but not because of stature. But the reality is, that short people are commonly and often looked at or gawked at and seen differently just because of an appearance.

[ MORE: small person stigma ]

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