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5 Things I Wish People Knew About Dwarfism

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I’m just a guy who is 48 inches tall. I speak only for myself and no other short-statured or average-sized individuals. Here are a few things I’d like the world to know about living with dwarfism.

1. Dwarfism is not my identity.

I am not a halfling to be pitied, a pet to be pampered or an object to be fetishized. I am not an inspiration. I am a human being figuring out this thing called life one step at a time, just like you.

2. Dwarfism doesn’t neutralize my feelings.

My silence in the face of your looks, stares, pointing, giggles, comments and countless other feeble attempts at wit and not-so-subtle ways you attempt to demean me shouldn’t imply I am unaffected or too timid to respond. Perhaps my silence belies the strength that comes from successfully thriving under the weight of challenges that might crush your soul before you reached the first hundred yards of walking a mile in my shoes. Perhaps I choose to take the higher road by not bringing to your attention the very shortcomings within yourself that you strive to deny that all the world so clearly sees.

Clay Rivers the mighty.3-001

3. Dwarfism doesn’t limit my human potential.

While the chances are slim to nil that I will be contracted as a member of an NBA, NFL or MLB franchise, there are dozens — if not hundreds — of other options available to me to which I am better suited. A palette of only red, yellow, blue and black in the hands of a novice is a limited range of colors; that palette in more experienced hands is a means to a painting rich with a spectrum of color.

4. Dwarfism is not a license for you to express your thoughts to me regarding my physical appearance.

After my first few years on the planet, I was well aware that I was shorter than the general population. So there’s no need to tell me I look adorable, cute, fun-sized, little, short, small, tiny or how much you’d like to just pick me up and love on me (I can tell by the gleam in your eyes). I know this. This includes pats on the head and any other unsolicited public displays of affection reserved for pets. I exist for your commentary no more than you exist for mine.

5. Dwarfism is a medical condition.

While it may be one of the first things you notice about me, it’s only a small portion of who I am. Think of my dwarfism much the same way you would your hair or eye color, weight, emotional disposition or race. These things are but only a piece of the whole of anyone. Perhaps dwarfism, like so many other anomalies of human nature, is one of the ways God reflects the humanity in us all.

Now if you can identify situations in your own life that parallel my experiences with dwarfism — bravo! You, my friend, might be an honorary little person. Your membership card is in the mail.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or illness. It can be lighthearted and funny or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include at least one intro paragraph for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: August 31, 2015
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