Three The Mighty covers featuring people with disabilities

Kristen DeAndrade Has 'Tiny Legs and a Big Heart'


Kristen DeAndrade's cover

Kristen DeAndrade’s mantra is “little legs, big heart.” It’s a mantra that’s been shaped by the 30-year-old’s life with achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism. “There is always going to be someone, somewhere who has something to say, ” DeAndrade said. “Even if I was pressured, it’s physically impossible for me to have another body type.”

DeAndrade views her body as a canvas reflecting her medical journey. “I’m not afraid to show the evidence of what I have been through,” she said. “It isn’t something I think twice about.” For DeAndrade, strengthening her self-worth has made it easier to drown out any unwanted opinions she may hear. “I don’t walk around reminding myself I am a woman with dwarfism who has an extensive surgical history,” she explained. “I’m Kristen. A woman with little legs and a big heart, lover of hugs and laughter, unafraid to show her sassy side.”

This summer holds significant importance to DeAndrade, who lives in Charleston, South Carolina. On May 2, DeAndrade underwent spinal surgery to reverse damage to her spinal cord due to spinal stenosis, a condition common among those living with dwarfism. “Hearing my surgeon describe how severe my spinal injury actually was – losing all motor function on the operating table and facing the possibility of living the rest of my life in a wheelchair – those words were a blow to my heart,” she said. “As a result I have been offered more perspective. This summer, more than ever before, I am grateful to be standing and moving on my own two legs.”

Read More: This Is What It Looks Like When You Feature Disabled and Chronically Ill People in Magazines

Next: Bekah Georgy Shares What Dressing for Summer With an Eating Disorder Is Like

TOPICS
, Photo story
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Achondroplasia

Naomi holding a marker

To the Mother Whose Child Doesn't Like Mine

I’ve lived in a nearly perfect world for almost two years. My daughter, whose diagnosis (achondroplasia) is becoming more and more apparent, generally elicits only the kindest of remarks from strangers who recognize a difference (the difference being disproportionately short arms and legs, and a larger-than-average head size). I am almost overwhelmed by how many people tell her [...]

How I Feel About the Potential 'Cures' for My Dwarfism

For decades, people in the medical profession have tried to think of ways to make me taller. The latest thing I’ve heard about is the potential for a drug that can be injected every day. I’m 37 years old and married with two wonderful children. Our eldest daughter is 5 years old and has inherited [...]

When My Son With Autism Wandered Into the Middle of the Street

Two minutes. That’s all the time it took. We were distracted for two minutes and he was gone. Our favorite babysitter, Maura, the daughter of an old family friend, was just home from college and my mom and I were welcoming her back. We were telling her how excited we were to have her home [...]

Dear Autism Parents, I Don’t Know Your Story, but I Know You Need This

Dear Autism Parent, Having a child with autism myself, I imagine this road hasn’t always been easy. It’s a road that often can’t be fathomed unless there are fellow travelers. But traveling the same road is not the equivalent to having the same journey. I can’t begin to know what your days, hours, minutes and [...]