Over the past few years there has been an explosion of reality shows featuring little people: The Littlest Groom, Little People, Big World, The Little Couple, Pit Boss, and Little Women: LA to name a few. Part of me loves these shows. I record them, I binge watch them, I tell my friends to watch them- I relate to them and they make me laugh. And this perhaps is the problem. As a fellow person I laugh along side the characters and situations, but there is a potential for people to be laughing at the these same things. While the ideal would be for these shows to bring awareness to little people and their plights and successes, not all attention is good attention.
A few months ago during a brief stop at a local store I was asked by no fewer than three strangers if I was a little person. I have grown accustom to stranger’s stares and sideways glances, children asking their mothers if I am a mommy or kid like them or why that kid can drive like a big person. I am used to having new friends, acquaintances and coworkers eventually ask why I am so petite. But never have I had complete strangers walk up to me in the middle of a store and ask if I am a little person. One person even followed me out of the store asking if I was an “official” little person, as if there is some type of membership card or I were some type of memorabilia. I was upset by these remarks at first, but then it occurred to me that these people were probably honestly excited they had met a real life little person like on one of those TV shows. While reality shows can help people be more aware of the challenges faced by little people, we should be conscious of how these shows might make viewers perceive the characters and the little people they meet in the real world. There is potential to exploit little people and create more opportunities to degrade and poke fun at them- and any little person will tell you we don’t need any more of those.
I hear Little Women: NY is coming out soon, and I will watch it and I hope others do too – just remember it is a show and meant to entertain, but behind all of those characters are real people.