14 Challenges You Never Realized Little People Have To Deal With

Little people, also known as dwarves, LPs, and people of short stature, are a diverse group. They came from all walks of life, representing all ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, religious groups, and class backgrounds. Dwarfism - which is defined by an adult height of 4' 10" or under - is caused by over 200 different medical conditions. 70 percent of cases are the result of achondroplasia, which affects affects between 1 in 15,000 to 1 in 40,000 people worldwide.

So, what's it like to be a little person? In a lot of ways, of course, it's just like being any other individual. But the things little people have to deal with are often unique to their situation. For some, the hardest part of being a little person is the discrimination they face. For others, it's the medical complications. Chances are, you have no idea what little people problems are dealt with on a daily basis.

  • They Might Be The Only Dwarf In Their Whole Family

    They Might Be The Only Dwarf In Their Whole Family
    Photo: jill, jellidonut... whatever from Raleigh, NC, USA / via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

    Dwarfism can be caused by many things, including random mutations, inherited conditions, growth hormone deficiencies, and nutritional deficiencies. While it's certainly possible to have multiple little people in one family, it's just as possible to have only one.

    This doesn't have to be a problem, but growing up feeling different can be an isolating experience.

  • Little People Can Feel Like They're On Display

    Writing for CNN, Cara Reedy says that "living as a little person is like being the main attraction at the circus every day of my life. Going grocery shopping, getting tampons at the drugstore - it's like being a celebrity, and the whole world is my paparazzi."

    The constant attention can be exhausting, and even frightening. The attention Reedy gets often involves pointing, staring, derogatory comments, and outright bullying. "My existence is a joke to them," says Reedy. "When these people refer to little people, they often say, 'Look at it.' To them, I am not even human. I'm a different species."

  • People Use Offensive Terminology

    According to the Little People of America, the term "midget" originated in 1865, and typically referred to short-statured people who were displayed as "freaks" in carnivals and freak shows. The term is now considered unacceptably offensive, but people still use it all the time.

    What term should be used, if not midget? That depends on who you're talking to. Dwarf, little person, LP, and person of short stature are all usually acceptable, but you should always use the term that the person in question prefers.

  • Door Handles Are Usually Too High

    Door handles aren't something that most people think too hard about. That's because they're placed within easy arm's reach for most adults. That's not the case for little people. Because door handles are often set too high, they're an accessibility issue. While it's possible to get appropriate door handles installed in one's own home, this can get expensive, and it doesn't help with other doors in public spaces.

  • ATMs Aren't Always Accessible

    Service machines like ATMs, ticket machines, gas pumps, and self-service checkout registers can be difficult, if not impossible, for little people to use. All of these machines are designed with the average adult height in mind, which makes reaching the device in order to operate it a challenge. While adaptive devices do exist, they aren't always convenient.

  • Car Airbags Can Be Dangerous

    Airbags are designed to protect against serious injury in a car crash, but they can be fatal for little people. That's because they're designed to meet average-sized people in the chest and abdomen, which means that they can smother people of shorter stature. For this reason, Little People of America recommends that little people consider having airbags removed from their cars.