I am short! But I stand tall!
Hi, my name is Joanna. I am a differently-unique, created to stand out and not fit in. I was born with a condition called Dwarfism, and am 3'7" inches TALL. I'm a music teacher at a reputed school and also teach at a music institute. Though I'm an MBA, I was always more inclined to learning music and cleared Grade 7 in Piano from Trinity College of Music, London and Grade 5 in Singing and Grade 5 in Music Theory from ABRSM, London.
This is my story.
What happened to Quaden was unfortunate, but by means of that video, I believe, awareness about Dwarfism was raised to an extent. Here are instances when I have been being mocked at both by strangers and people I know:
1. People would ask if they could carry me in the same way an adult would carry a toddler. (You won't believe this, but people still ask me the same!)
2. I would be asked to try to jump and reach for things that were out of my reach. (Colleagues at an earlier place I worked at would take my ID card and hold it high, expecting me to jump and take it.)
3. As a child, my peers would ask me to run after them. (To check if I could run as fast as them and make fun of my running.). Some children in the school I studied at would call me 'potti' (short).
4. Today, in public places, people refer to me as 'Chinna Ammayi' (small lady) and jeer at me. I've often had people trying to take a photo of me and make fun of my appearance. Young kids group around to check if they are taller than me. Others call their friends to come have a look for a good laugh.
At other times, I have been asked to:
1. 'Drink Complan': Despite knowing my short height is because of a medical condition, I was 'advised' to drink Complan to become a 'Complan Girl'- tall and strong.
2. Use 'Fair and Lovely': To get a lighter skin tone and so be accepted and liked by people.
3. Pursue a career in movies as a joker/comedy shows, because these options are great for dwarfs.
I still experience forms of bullying. Often, I've found it difficult to stand up for myself because I am soft-spoken. But, I'm thankful for the loving support and encouragement from my family, friends, relatives, teachers and colleagues who have helped me overcome daily obstacles. Each day has made me stronger. The experiences help me learn to stand up for myself and choose not to let nasty comments affect me.
I realise I am differently-abled and do not fit into the cultural stereotype of a 'tall-thin-fair' beautiful lady.
It's our character that defines us and not our physical appearance. How we treat others 'different' from us, reveals our true nature. Our 'beauty', educational qualifications, skills and talents, social status are secondary. Learning to accept people the way they are is of prime importance.
Bullying is serious. Maybe you think bullying is name calling or physically harming another. It is. And it also takes subtle forms. I believe bullying needs to be addressed first at homes and then at schools. Parents need to teach their children how to respond to people who look or talk 'different'.
I've accepted myself: as a short lady. I hope that society would treat me as an adult and not a 10-year-old girl.
I did not choose my height, colour and body frame, but I know it's God's sovereign will for me to be born this way. He has created me differently, for a plan and purpose and I am at peace with that.
'For He created my inmost being; He knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise Him because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; His works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from Him when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. His eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in His book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are God's thoughts! How vast is the sum of them!' (Psalm 139:13-17)