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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
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Another problem that is often overlooked is how people place small people into categories. I could walk down the street and out of nowhere I hear "Look a midget!" How do they know what a midget is? People assume way too much, and ask too little. I would much rather have a someone comes up to me and asks what I prefer to be called. First I would reply "Melissa." But, knowing what he meant, I would say a small person.

Many people do not truly understand what certain height terms mean. For instance, dwarfs are small people whose arms and legs do not measure up to the rest of their body. Of course this is only a technical term, and more often these people wish only to be known as a small person.

Then you have people whose appendages are all equal to the rest of their body, but they never get any taller than three feet five inches tall. They are often called midget, but actually that term came from the late 1800's when a circus came to town. The title of their sideshow was "Come see the Freaks! Come see the Midgets!". So actually the term midget should not be associated with people at all. It is a circus term.

Then the rest of us, who are just plain short and small, are that, small people.

However, I think that the worse thing I have had to deal with because of my short stature, was loosing some really great friends, or so I thought they were friends. There was a group of about eight of us that did everything together. Some of us had known each other for over five years. We were a "clique." This was a group where everyone could confine in everyone. Until my seventh grade year. It was also the year that I found out I was not going to get any taller than four feet six inches tall. This was so devastating and embarrassing to me. I did not know how to tell my friends, even though we told each other everything. This me it was different. They were different. Our "clique" was beginning to dissolve.

Then about a year later it happened. I knew I could never to tell my secret, that I had held inside me for so long, to them. We were all at a restaurant eating. A small woman and her small child stepped out of her car. She could not have been any taller than four feet. When my friends saw her, they laughed and made jokes. All I could do was excuse myself to go cry in the rest room. They had no idea. That was the point when I knew our friendship was ending.

We lost touch, started making new friends and being involved in different hobbies. At first, I was not too bothered by this, except for one friend in particular whom I thought I would never lose. But, I did.

I realized that if friendship meant being someone I am not, it was not a true friendship. If she could not accept me for me, than the friendship was truly over.

Instead, as time went on, I gained new and better friends that respected me for who I am and are always there to lend a hand when I need it. They do not turn their backs on me when I need someone to listen to me. I even have friends who have nicknamed me Ewok after the Star Wars movie because they thought I was short and cute like them. This does not bother me, because I know they are true friends who have accepted all four feet six inches of me. And that is what matters. Well, I guess the saying that you can only grow through all your troubles and overcoming obstacles. If this is true, then in my heart I am ten feet tall.

Someone I once knew that was also short said to me "I wish people would not just look at us, but look inside us. We are not different, but we not "normal" either. We are us and proud of it."

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