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10 Things to Never Say or Do to a Person With Dwarfism

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The other night my husband and I partook in the mundane activity of grocery shopping for the week. As usual, I perused all of the domestic and imported cheeses while my husband scrolled through Facebook blissfully unaware of the supermarket experience.


As we made our way to the frozen foods aisle, searching for puff pastry sheets for a delightful dinner I had planned, a gentleman stopped in the aisle and stared at us.

Not a big deal, most people gawk at least for a moment or two. As we walked past he said something to me that I didn’t quite get, so I replied, “What?”

“Do you want to hear a joke?” he asked.

“Sure, why not,” I replied, sighing.

“OK,” he said, as he bent down and placed his hands on his knees with his eyes a little too close to my cleavage, “Why do midgets love soccer so much?”

I let out another sigh. “I have no idea. Why?”

He could barely contain his excitement for the punchline he knew I was going to love: “Because the grass tickles their balls!”

We started walking away, and I dryly replied over my shoulder, “Wow, maybe if I had balls I’d find that funny.”

He shouted after us: “It’s a joke! Can’t you take a joke? All right, all right, how about another one? Why am I a giant?”

(Let’s pause for a moment, because I need to let you all know this man was maybe 5-foot-4 — on a good day.)

We didn’t respond and were already in another aisle when he shouted out, “Because I’m an idiot!”

After this particularly sigh-inducing and eye-rolling encounter at the grocery store, I decided to write up a great, easy-to-use, printable, and postable, top 10 list of things to never say or do to a person with dwarfism. Please enjoy!

1. Bend over to talk to us.

Trust me, I can hear you. If LeBron James were standing next to me talking, I would be able to hear him, too. And why is it always the shorter men and women who do this to me? Literally, sir, you’re maybe a foot and 2 inches taller than me. Please stop embarrassing yourself.

2. Assume we want to hear your latest and greatest “midget” joke.

No, I don’t. Just stop yourself before you even think of asking if we want to hear your joke.

3. And then criticize us when we don’t laugh at your horrible “midget” joke.

Oh, I’m sorry. Was I supposed to find that insult about me and my existence humorous? My bad.

4. Tell us you’re “twice our size!”

I’m assuming you failed high school geometry, because unless you’re more than 8 feet tall, no, you’re not twice as tall as me.

5. Pat us on the head.

I’m appalled I even have to add this to the list. People who do this are trying to assert their dominance. As in, “I’m the dominant person in this interaction, so I will pat your head to show your stature and place.”

After a co-worker accidentally patted me on the head, she immediately said, “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to pat you on the head. I was aiming for your shoulder. I would never do that. I am so sorry.”

6. Reach over our heads.

Like the airspace above my home, I own the immediate space above my head. Don’t reach over me to do anything: grab a door, shake someone’s hand, high-five someone, nothing. Never. Ever.

7. Put your hands on me for any reason.

Don’t touch me or maneuver me physically because you perceive some sort of threat ahead that you don’t think I’m aware of. As we all say to small children, “Use your words!”

8. Tell me I’m inspirational when I’m…

…pumping gas, grocery shopping, walking my dog, waiting in line, ordering a smoothie, shopping for lingerie, etc.

9. Take my picture.

No, not going to happen. And if you do, and you share it to social media, I will find it, report it, and do everything in my power to get your account deactivated.

10. Take a picture of my child or any child with dwarfism.

See #9 and then add involve the authorities or the mafia, whichever is quicker.

With this simple list (printable, postable, and shareable), you’re well on your way to having an awesome interaction with a person with dwarfism!


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Originally published: March 21, 2016
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