It wasn’t an accident that we ended up here… some have likened it to Holland, essentially feeling they’ve missed out on Italy. Disability doesn’t feel that way to me. Adelaide being someone with dwarfism, often called a Little Person, doesn’t define her, us, or feel like anything worthy of a television show. Her desire to make everything she says into a song, however? That may put our shining star on stage!
Parenthood wasn’t unplanned for us, dwarfism was. So naturally, Dave and I dove in head first to find out what Addie’s life would look like as a child growing into an adult with an average height between 3 and 4 feet. At first, it was all about TV shows, because they were readily accessible, but I could see the drama aspects in them, similar to those already out there featuring average height folks.
Even the titles set me off:
The Real Things in Actual Places.
That Vacation Place Story.
Keeping Up With the People.
These shows had some real moments, but it seems like arguments, infractions, and personalities were larger than life, so when it came to shows featuring families with dwarfism, I found it no different.
But this is just my story, and I can only answer your one [common] question:
What do you think of reality TV?
I get asked that a lot almost as much as if Addie is adopted. Usually, I am hesitant to answer either of these questions, but I need to address it because I think we need a dialog. As a community, we are small in number, and much of the Little People of America, our largest association in the community, is made up of average height members. This is both awesome, and hard to represent.
As an average height member myself, I find that I want to give Addie the voice to represent herself (another post coming soon!), and to do so, I think she needs to see other people with dwarfism. This can be done through TV and social media, as well as going to conferences, both in our local district and nationally. The best for us, are the amazing men and women that have become our friends IRL, and give our family the only dose of reality we need. Reality.
The story goes like this:
It’s been passed around before, but I’ll retell the story of the friend I
have had who, upon learning about Addie’s diagnosis said, “maybe she’ll get her own TV show.”
I’ll start with saying why that hurt so bad: It felt like that friend thought that my child should be looked at for her disability. In my head all I heard was maybe they’ll put that freak on TV. Of course she didn’t mean it this way, and while I know this was the beginning of the demise of our friendship, hearing that turned me sour on reality TV quite early on in my parenthood journey.
But You DO Want to Watch?
If you’re obsessed with reality TV and want to know more about dwarfism, there are two shows that I admit to watching when I have the chance- mostly because I love and relate to these families. The Little Couple and The Seven Little Johnstons are truly wonderful, drama-free (to the degree that they can be) shows. They are honest. I like honest. I like the kids to see honest and real.
I actually had the honor to meet Bill and Jen from The Little Couple at the LPA Conference in Boston, and they are as real IRL as they are on TV. They are parents to kids who have personalities that can outshine their own. They enjoy chilling in Starbucks over coffee with friends. They don’t mind posing for pictures, even though they’re super famous and just trying to walk though a lobby- and no, I didn’t ask because I was too shy (GASP!). The Little Couple shows a no drama perspective of life lived with dwarfism. Proving that height, surgeries, and disability doesn’t define you. How Addie will live an average life with dwarfism.
I’ve found watching some reality TV shows with people, particularly women with dwarfism, can give the impression that LP are always struggling, always dealing with negative, and that dwarfism is a disability you can gawk at. This is truly daunting. I wish there was better representation in both the media and on TV… and then, maybe, I would like reality TV.
So, in short, no. I don’t like reality TV. But I could.