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Saturday, June 22, 2013

"Midget"-- Let's talk about this.

Here I am as a parent so passionate about what I am about to write that my stomach is in knots, my palms balmy and my neck hairs standing straight out.  In other words, it might be necessary to take a deep breath and gain some courage to keep going... but that is exactly what I am going to do.  Because, that's all I know.

Midget.

This word.  This word that I do not like.  This word that I wish didn't exist.  This word that causes pain,  creates insecurity and passes judgement.  This word, that less than one year ago today, never crossed my mind.  Fast forward time... it's in my mind and now I want it in yours.

Midget.

Hear it again because I want you to know about this word.  I didn't know... I honestly did not know this word was a derogatory word (meaning... it is considered a slur, condescending, hurtful, negative in connotation).  I didn't know because my life experiences up until last October did not lead me to a place where I had learned about this word.  I didn't know.  That doesn't mean I was using this word freely or ever, but it certainly wasn't on the same list as the n-word to describe someone of African-American descent or the r-word to describe someone with intellectual disabilities.  

Midget.

Listen.  Listen good and listen hard.  Add it to that list.  This word is just as offensive to people born with dwarfism as the other derogatory words named above are offensive to particular individuals.  And with that said, they should be offensive to all of us.  We know better than to say those words... and good for us for knowing better and putting an end to hate speech.  Thank God we can "spread the word to end the word."  Here's our word.  This word that I never thought about a short time ago.  Let me tell you... it's on my mind.  Is it on yours yet?

Midget.

People see me out and about with Lilah and now they are starting to ask questions about her littleness.  And, it is interesting to me that people want to know why.  Why is she so little?  And the truth is... I would want to know too if I were them.  Curiosity is a natural instinct that I understand.  I too am very curious in nature.  And I see nothing wrong with being curious and asking questions with the intention  to learn.  I welcome that.  So much.  And so...here is the "why" referring to this word: (besides the fact that it's derived from midge... a small-blood sucking insect,  and if that isn't rude enough) back a couple of hundred years ago it started out describing proportionately short-statured individuals.  It wasn't considered negative then.  That changed with society when those of short-stature were ridiculed for their size and put on public display with the intention of utter humiliation.  On purpose, public humiliation... for how they were born.  Ouch.  That happened.  And Thank God I am a mama in 2013 and not then, because the good Lord knows I would have gone ballistic on the townspeople and stoned them all to death if that were my baby up there.  Just sayin'.  So technically, what should a person born with dwarfism be referred to as?  Generally speaking I think Lilah would like to be referred to as... Lilah.  But I know there are times, especially when answering those questions that I do need to use terminology to talk about Lilah's diagnosis.  (I will just add that individuals in the Little People community feel differently about these various words...some like more than others... we are all still learning what's comfortable for each of us.)  But I will say, it is considered politically correct to use the words dwarf, little person, person of short-stature and person with dwarfism.

Midget.

Uggghhhhh, that word.  I hear it, I've heard it, I did nothing... I learned something last week.  Something important about being on the sidelines versus being in the game.  My husband asked me if I had heard about the controversy surrounding Cafe Press this past week.  (Click on Cafe Press to hear the whole story but in short, this company was creating products i.e. hats, coffee mugs, apparel... with slogans such as "Midgets were put on this planet for our amusement. Use them as you will.")  I told him I had, but that I am filling my mind with positivity and that I was choosing not to focus on the negative.  He was surprised at my answer and he said that it was a big victory for short-statured people (and for everyone) when the company decided to remove all these degrading products.  Yes, if others acted like me and sat on the sidelines and did nothing... who knows who could have been hurt, influenced and desensitized by the use of this word?  Thank God others were not like me and Thank God someone or someones did something.  Sitting on the sidelines is helping no one.  I learned this last week.  I am now in the game ready to play.

Midget.

Uh-huh... I have to address this word.  And I was thinking about this when I was watching ESPN with my husband a few weeks ago.  They were featuring a story about a man whose daughter had Down Syndrome.  He ran marathons with her and pushed this beautiful five year old every mile of every race.  When he was interviewed, they asked him about her.  He said lots of things that "hit" him but it was his love for her that "hit home" the most.  And then this... he said, "My biggest fear in life is that she is going to be called a retard."  He cried.  My heart broke into little pieces and I cried.  I thought about his statement.  A lot.  And I wondered if I shared the same fear... and after much thought, I realized... I don't.  I look at it like this... I will never be able to control what people say.  My daughter will most likely hear this word in her lifetime.  To her face.  On purpose.  It could happen.  My biggest fear is not that it could happen, it's that I have not prepared her for dealing with how to react.  That's my job as a parent.  But, it is also my job to educate and meet ignorances (intentional and unintentional) head on with knowledge.

Midget.

I am telling you in case you didn't already know about this word.  And if you didn't, it's ok. Really.  This is not me angry, not me blaming, not me pointing fingers, not me judging.  No.  And as a former teacher, you only know what you have been taught... so this is me teaching.  Now, this is me begging... go and be a teacher too.  If you know me, if you have read our story, if you have a place in your heart for my daughter and for her future, your future, your kids' future, the world's future... teach about this word.  I am a big believer that people are generally good.  And in my experience with Lilah, people are great.  Just knowing you are taking time to read this already tells me about your heart.  Thank you.  Stand up against this word and other hate words.  Teach your children that there is no place for such words in our society-- I already know you are.  Lead.  Lead with intention and by example.  Lead on purpose for a purpose. 

Midget.

Please.  This is one mama trying to reach out to others... Last week I wrote to average-height parents with a child born with dwarfism.  This week I am writing to the general public.  Perhaps I will be someone's only connection to dwarfism.  And I am hoping that's enough to be sensitive to this word.  Please hear me and help me... if this word is in your life-- remove it.  If it is on your Facebook page, if it is in a joke you tell, if you use it sarcastically to describe little things, if you are around someone who uses this word... do something about it.  

Midget.

What I want from you... yeah you.  Time to get in the game.  I am asking something really simple from you that can/will make a difference.  Here are three things you can do to help me, pick one or do all three: 1. Repost this blog on your Facebook page.  I guarantee, someone watching your feed is average height and needs to hear this message.  They need to know.  Be an influence.  Help the movement. 2. Comment on this post either in the comments here on the blog or on the Facebook link where you saw this post and type in these words: I promise. And what that means to me is that you promise you will be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. 3. When you hear this word... think about my babygirl.  She is seven months old.  Think about it hitting her ears.  Think about how it would make her feel.  And why?  Why does she ever need to hear this word and be made fun of for her physical appearance?  For the way God made her?  Stand up.  Get in the game.  

Midget.

You heard it... it's in your mind.  Does it feel like I am name-calling, repeating it over and over like a bully would do?  Does it cut deeper and deeper each time your eyes graze over that word?  It's uncomfortable-- I'm glad.  That means... you are aware, you are sensitive, it doesn't feel good to keep hearing this word.  For any of us.  So I am taking it and crumpling it up and throwing it over my shoulder.  Who's with me?










    

128 comments:

  1. I think it's wonderful that you have written such am important message. It's wonderful that you want others to know exactly how hurtful this word can be. I am very similar in the way you were before you had a child with dwarfism. I knew the word "midget" but I didn't realize it was a derogatory word. I don't think a lot of people do. So yes, if and when I hear it I will make sure to correct them (kindly) but I will also make sure not the give the word "midget" ANY meaning. I don't believe the other derogatory words you mentioned should hold meaning either. I probably won't communicate what I am thinking very well, you are way better at that Leslie than I will ever be. But I find when I hear derogatory words, if I choose to NOT give it any meaning or feeling, or POWER really-it helps. We all get called or have been called something derogatory in our lives- "stupid" "dumb" "ugly" "gay", these are all despicable words, but only if I CHOOSE to let them be. Someone elses' ignorance will not hurt me, nor can their words. I hope Lilah can understand this as she gets older. Strength can come in many forms, and as much as we want to remove these horrible words from our language, the truth is that they are a part of our language. There will always be someone, looking to hurt another and when that happens, it's up to us to rise above, and to NOT allow those words to have any kind of power over us.
    God Bless you Leslie, and the wonderful wisdom that God has been pouring into you. I know it has affected my life and others in a very positive way!

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    1. Thank you. I love the way you said this and it makes perfect sense. And my job as a parent to Lilah is two-fold. One: change the world. Two: prepare her for it. And what you talked about is part 2. And that is exactly what I will tell her. Thank you again. Xoxo

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  2. You are amazing and I love you for this ♥

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    1. Thank You Spencers love to you and your beautiful daughter.
      My gorgeous GrandMother taught me well, "Sticks and stones will
      break your bones but names will never hurt you".

      Always think you are lucky because those people who become your friends will forever be true and you will know their friendship is genuine.

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  3. Lilah is blessed to have you as her mommy. You are blessed to have her as your sweet pea. & I promise you. :)

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    1. Thank you!!! I really appreciate you following our story!! XOXO

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  4. Excellent job writing this! I promise to spread the word.

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  5. To the Spencer Family
    I love reading your blogs! How you are teaching or reteaching your world about your wonderful newborn daughter and about her future in this world. It reminds me of when our daughter was born in 1970. I totally understand what you have, are and will experience. 43 years ago my daughter was born profoundly deaf. We too had many hurdles and myths and stereotypes to overcome and had to reteach our friends, family and acquaintances and to teach ourselves. Many folks couldn't understand why our beautiful little child wasn't talking, why we didn't just talk louder or why she couldn't read lips. "Why don't you get her a cochlear transplant?" Fix her! "She is wearing a hearing aid so why can't she talk?" Then there were those who thought sign language was ugly (ASL)...There were those who believed in "the oral concept" and others argued the "manual way". Those are still being argued today. Many times only our nuclear family really understood what she needed or didn't need to make her life complete and productive. Today she is a vivacious, very independent, intellectual, curious, college educated young lady of 43 years and leads a very productive and happy life with her husband and her lovely Cocker Spaniel, Saigon, in Minneapolis. She has traveled to Europe 4 times and Viet Nam and Iceland each once. Her passion is Paris! She is the bravest and most secure young lady.....We are so proud of her. She overcame so much just like your Lilah will do....you are doing so much in telling the world about dwarfism. I wish I would have done something like that when Lisa was born about deafness....to inform the world and help them understand. Educate. They are not "deaf and dumb" or "mutes"!! Lisa is hearing impaired or just deaf. That is what we all need in dealing with and improving past misunderstandings. I really commend you for doing all that you do for your daughter and her world! And I want to tell you that the other day a person I know used the word midget and I retaught them the word dwarfism and they understood. Your work is changing the way many people perceive or "label" others. I know it has helped me understand dwarfism! I thank you for what you are doing not just for your daughter but for all of us....we are learning to understand.

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    1. Oh Linda... thank you so much for writing this. I loved hearing about your story and I am so proud of your daughter too. But, also I am proud of you because even though you feel as though you didn't educate the world, I am sure that you have. Just you writing this message has touched my heart and I am hoping others' as well. Thank you for teaching about this word and thank you for following our story. It is because of people like you that I am able to hold my head high and keep on going. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and kindness. Much love to you and your Lisa. XOXO

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  6. for all of our beautiful children! Thank you for writing it so eloquently! I promise!!

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  7. Leslie, My son, Jacob, is 5 years old and has achondroplasia. You so beautifully put into words the same things I have thought and experienced, but didn't know how to say them. Thanks for this post. I will be sharing it.

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    1. Laura, thank you so much for your kind words. Thank you for following the blog and sharing... I really appreciate it. love to you and Jacob! (Follow us on Instagram at: dreambiglittleones... I would love to see Jacob on there and watch him grow into a handsome young boy!) XOXO

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  8. Thank you for the excellent job of writing this! Having been a special education teacher, I had a couple of dwarfs in my teaching career whom I absolutely loved. They were happy and always brought a smile to my face. You have a beautiful daughter whose smile is going to melt many hearts throughout her life. She is truly blessed to have you as a mommy to champion her cause! I promise!!!

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    1. Thank you so much. And Thank you for your service as a special education teacher. The world needs a million more you's that's for sure! Thanks again. XOXO

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  9. She's beautiful :)

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  10. This is so beautifully and perfectly written. I too hadn't thought much about the "m" word prior to our daughters diagnosis despite having acute awareness for the "n" and "r" words due to family circumstances. We are certainly aware now and are working on awareness in our small community and more... I don't want our daughter to be known as a derogatory label even if out of ignorance.

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    1. Katrina, so true... that sounds a lot like my story. Thank you for helping to spread the word to end the word. one person at a time.... We can make this world a little brighter. XOXO

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  11. I understand & God bless you & Lilah, she is beautiful!

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    1. Thank you. And may God bless you too. XOXO

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  12. Lilah is a beautiful child, and she is made exactly how God intended her to be. I am truly grateful I came across this blog on a friend's facebook page. As I did not know the term "midget" is derogatory, and will make sure I educate people about this. I get very angry when people use the term "retard" in a manor to be used in a defamatory way. I have a niece that is Pervasively Developmentally Delayed (she is under the austism umbrella)and I also work with special needs children, and have a nephew with Tourette's Syndrome. I had the privilege this year to work with a girl who has a form of dwarfism and am so amazed by her. She has a lot of other deformaties but, never once complained or even made excuses. I am so tired of society thinking it is okay to put down or bully others that are perceived "different." You are Lilah's biggest advocate and she is so blessed to have you as her mommy. God Bless your family, Cindi

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    1. Thanks you for your message. Yes, different is a blessing... and if we can teach everyone to look for the good in everybody, wouldn't the world be a happier place. This is a good lesson for all of us to be reminded of and I am glad I have the opportunity to spread this message of love and to hear it often. Thanks again. XOXO

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  13. Thank you for writing this to the public! I, personally, didn't know how derogatory this word was. It's not one that I use, but I will now be looking for ways to correct others if I hear it.

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    1. Thank you and I soooo appreciate that. XOXO

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  14. Your writing was an eye opener. I have never heard of small people being put down for their size. My granddaughter is a true artist, and is included in the neighborhood soccer team, plays the violin and is a good little mathematician.
    She is wrapped around our hearts. God bless you as you bring up your precious daughter. Focus on developing her and her gifts, and thank God for her. She is your gift from Him.

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    1. Thank you for your message. I am so glad to hear about your granddaughter. What a blessing! Yes, we are soooo blessed with our Lilah and we seek so much comfort in knowing He made her the way He intended for He does not make mistakes. God bless you. XOXO

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  15. I have a little person who lives next door to me. She is an amazing woman. We just had an incident last week where some young girls wanted to meet her and she didn't have the time. After spending some time after this occurred we all knew it was because she is a little person. Our neighbor is great and just because they are little doesn't mean that they don't have feelings. Thank you so much for sharing this for all of humanity to learn.

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    1. Thank you for your message. I think a post like this can make us all aware of how others can be affected by words or treatment. It is always a good reminder for all of us to let kindness be our guide and to offer that to others as well. Thanks for sharing. XOXO

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  16. I don't know that I've ever used this word, with perhaps the exception of referencing the little people in The Wizard of Oz, who were billed as midgets. Perhaps it was not a derogatory term itself when the movie was made - 1939 - but my impression is that they were not treated well on the set or off.

    Thank you for clarifying how inappropriate it is as a descriptive term. I'm sorry that Cafe Press had to be told that that wasn't right, and it wouldn't have been right if they had used any other term for little people, either. The attitude conveyed by that phrasing on a product line is sickening.

    I will post this on my FB page, and I PROMISE.

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    1. Thank you for commenting. I have personal opinions about those with dwarfism in the Hollywood sector that are only portrayed onscreen as a second-class citizen. I don't think that sends the right message to the general public or for our children growing up with dwarfism.

      Thank you for joining us in this cause. It is greatly appreciative and thank you for truly getting it.

      XOXO

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  17. I Promise<3 May God Bless you and sweet little Liylah

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  18. Beautiful, is all I can say. I have a grand-daughter with dwarfism and she is the greateast gift in the world. I'm so glad God chose us to have her! Thank you for saying all the things I have wanted to say. A very important message to spread across the globe. I will definately link to my facebook page. Kudos, for the eductional post!

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  19. Beautiful. Thank you!

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  20. Thank you for writing this. It's always good when someone can teach others how to be better people.

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  21. Well explained. I promise!

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    1. Thanks Roxie! Much love to you and we are missing you up here! Let's get a visit lined up! XOXO

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  22. Midget is a word! I use it regularly in reference to myself and others with affection.
    You have now taken it and made it evil.
    Until now, it was just a word. There's no difference between me saying "It's tough for midgets like us to reach isn't it?" or "It's tough for shorties like us to reach isn't it?"
    When will people stop taking offence to a particular word and making everyone else feel guilty?!

    Lilah is absolutely gorgeous by the way!

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    1. Dear all friends... it is my attempt to respond to everyone and in time I will... a little overwhelmed right now and I saw this post and please forgive me for responding to this ahead of your but I thought it necessary.

      Dear KayC... thank you for your kind words about Lilah... we think she is a beauty too!

      To address your comment... yes, the word midget is a word. I really wish it wasn't but it is. I am saddened that after reading this post you did not understand that this word hurts little people in the way the r-word and the n-word hurt others too. I think that alone should be enough to never use this word out of affection or for any reason.

      I personally have not made this word evil just like those with a child with intellectual disabilities and those with a child with a minority background have not made the derogatory words against them evil. It is not just my opinion that this word is hurtful. Midget was added to the list of derogatory words in 2009 in our country. This word was made evil by those who chose to exploit people for physical differences.

      Please take it to heart that this word is hurtful and that you can choose from over thousands of words to describe yourself and your friends. This shouldn't be one of them and I am hopeful that someday when it is heard coming from your mouth, that you will be corrected.

      There is a difference. You are making fun. It isn't right.

      Please take this time to internalize this and be a part of the solution instead of being a part of the problem.

      Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I am a big believer that everyone is entitled to their own opinion... but be careful because whether you understand or not, people are listening.... children are listening. Who could you be influencing?

      Leslie

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    2. KayC- Do you have dwarfism? I'm guessing not. Therefore, YOU do not get go decide of this word is considered insulting, derogatory, inflammatory or just plain rude to a little person. Grow up and consider how the words you use affect the people around you.

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  23. I promise. I had no idea "midget" was a slur, but I will never use it again.

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    1. Thank you Allie. I am so glad you took the time to read this. Much love. XOXO

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  24. Your Lilah is beautiful! Your blog entry is as toouching, poignant, and moving as any written from the heart. I promise.......I promised a year ago when my friend got the diagnosis for her sweet Miss Addie.... I promised when I realized that word made me cringe every time I heard it

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    1. Thank you. Thank you for supporting your friend too. I am sure it means so much to her and support is such a huge thing. I have been so blessed in the support we have received and continue to receive. People are really good and we have gotten a front seat to witness that. XOXO

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  25. Linda from IllinoisJune 23, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    I promise. I understand now that 'midget' is a slur word to little people like other 'slur' words are to certain ethnic groups. I feel sorry for the hurt it creates, and do not understand why people are so insensitive. I personally do not use such slurs. Lilah is an adorable little girl, and you are all blessed to have each other.

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    1. Thank you Linda from Illinois. That is very sweet of you. I appreciate it. XOXO

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  26. I promise. thank you for sharing and I hope your beautiful daughter never hears the "m" word thrown at her.
    Good job mama for standing up!!

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  27. Lilah is SO gorgeous. I will definitely pass the word! From my experience with a 28 y.o. disabled daughter, people aren't trying to be rude but they have not been educated on how hurtful words can be. My wheelchair using girl has had comments like "crippled" & "retarded." These words were spoken in a past generation and need to be put to rest just like "midget!" My hope & prayer for our current generation of young folks is that they be a kinder, more compassionate bunch. I do believe my daughter has helped educate those around her through the years. No matter your life, one just wants to be included and not made to feel different:) XOXO, Rosanna

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    1. Rosanna, ahhhh, that is so true. I am sorry your daughter had to hear those words. It does hurt for anyone to be bullied for anything. I feel like those with a physical difference are easy targets and just like you did with your daughter, it is important to teach them how to react to such words. Thank you for educating and I will do my part and continue the educating too. Thank you. XOXO

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  28. KayC: as another short person, I agree with you. I don't use it myself, but I do find it upsetting that people make a big fuss about it being wrong. Unfortunately, any word can be said with evil connotations, including made up words. We need to adjust people's reactions, not just their language. As a 4ft 2" person, I also find dwarf isn't right for me, I don't have achondroplasia, or any other disproportional dwarfism condition. Looking at dictionaries, midget is the RIGHT word to describe my condition, not dwarf, especially as a medical diagnosis has not been made so I can't use the scientific name instead.

    Having said all that, I do applaud the well written article. Just think more in terms of changing people's attitudes rather than reducing our dictionary.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate you taking the time to read and react. So true that if someone wants to intentionally hurt, there are plenty of ways to do that. However, I think we can do both... educate about derogatory words and work to adjust people's reactions. Thank you for reading and I look forward to more of your input on future blogs. XOXO

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  29. I'm with you! First I want to apologize if I'm going to write somthing wrong because of my not-perfect english. You are opening my eyes and my mind. I am not close. But that's me. And what about my 2 years old son? Am I teaching him that we are all the same even if we seem to be different? Well, I am trying and you are helping me to keep an open mind. He is discovering that some people are black and he usually say: look mom, he is black! Look
    look! Ok, let's start from little differences. Sone people are white, other black... Wow:the world is full of colour! That was my my explanation. And I was thinking of you and you Lilah. Big, small, black, white, fat, slim... We are all the same! I'm trying to teach him to love everybody! Life is not easy, let's try to make it easier for our children. Thanks Leslie to help us! Mikmommy.

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    1. You are so sweet and I think your English is wonderful! Thank you for following our story and for all your continued support. Thank you for teaching your son about a world full of different and good. Much love to you mama! XOXO

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  30. Leslie....my daughter is 29 years old and was diagnosed with an unknown type of dwarfism at birth. She's currently just under 3 ft tall. You can imagine the stares, comments, and all sorts of reactions we've gotten over the years. The best way to safeguard your daughter's heart is to teach her that she's loved, she's beautiful, and God made her for a very special purpose. You can spend your whole time trying to educate others on how not to be hurtful and rude, but there will always be more people to educate....your sphere of influence will always be too small in that area. But....your sphere of influence in your daughter's life is huge! When my daughter and I encounter curiosity and comments....we try to use that opportunity to educate the person asking or commenting....not in a confrontational way, but a direct way. It's usually children and they really are curious...once you answer their questions, then they want to know stuff like....do you like pizza? My daughter speaks to school children in assemblies at their schools about how to treat others that are different and how we're all the same inside....the kids love her! Hopefully the kids will educate the adults! Your daughter is beautiful, just like mine. She is blessed to have you for her Mommy! We can try to protect our kids from the outside world...or we can prepare them for it! And probably a little of both! Blessings to you and your family!

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    1. Leslie, This is a beautiful writing. You have articulated it very well. Thank you. The above response to your blog about midgets from karenfayj should prove to be a great encouragement to you. It is truth. Take it into consideration. When a person learns a positive self image of themselves as they grow, they can be about 'living'. It is so important to teach our children how they are revered by God, how they are created in His image, and how much they are loved (both by God and us). Do not confuse this with spoiling the child, allowing them to whine about some bully who called them a name (secretly go and deck that person ...... haha, just kidding) but instead tell your child how special they are because someone took the time to notice them, even if it was to 'call them a name'.

      What's in a name? I sing this song OFTEN! He Knows My Name ……. http://youtu.be/CC8puwexBBo

      When our 20 year old son left us, way too early for heaven, there were over 500 people who came to the viewings and funeral service and sent condolences. Our little town where we live only has about 200 kids in the entire K-12 school. Our sons’ life, lived with a rare form of dwarfism (Thanatophoric Dysplasia), changed the world. …at least our little corner. Our son had so many friends. Sure, there were people who called him names, there were some who thought his life was no use (and TOLD us so), there were many who were grossed out by his skin condition, there were grown people who held their kids back from him because they were afraid their kids would 'get something', and on and on the list goes. But, at the end of the day, our son was a gift to us and we are forever changed. We miss him so terribly that at times we have to remind ourselves to just take a breath.

      While we didn't see it at first, we know God picked us to give His blessing to. I sing this song often also ...... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGmKC34UZ68.

      I love karenfayj's response. I would only change the word 'little' to 'A LOT' in the second to last sentence. Be blessed dear mommy. Oh, and the post above this one by anonymous (at 9:22am) is so spot on as well! Red & yellow, black & white, we are precious in His sight. While we are not really 'all the same', we are ALL made to make the bigger picture complete.

      Now, one more thing. It is important to give you a piece of advice that only comes after years of experience, 33 years to be exact. Take care of your children, date your husband! Children are a result of passion. Keep the passion. Ask God to help you. He will.
      ~I promise;) ~from Blessed Mar

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    2. Dear Karenfayj and Blessed Mar,

      Thank you for taking the time to read the blog and write comments. I really can say that I took what you had to say in consideration and I touched on that in my most recent post titled, "She's Big Enough For Me." What you are referring to is what I can do for her instead of what I can do for the general public. Well, I believe I can teach both. What I haven't been able to do yet is eloquently articulate what it is I am going to teach my daughter. To me, and just to me, what you have said to me is a given. It goes without being said. Of course I am going to teach those things to my daughter. Of course. I think I could write 500 posts and still not be able to fully explain what it is I want to teach my daughter and my son because it will literally take me my lifetime. But, in my own opinion, that does not mean that I can't educate the general public too. And the good Lord knows I will try. I do believe that the world can be changed and I do believe that it takes a voice and a story and lots of gumption and gull. All of which I have. We are so blessed by our Lilah and we will do everything we can in our lives to create a wonderful life for her and allow her to touch as many lives as possible. Everyone deserves to know this very special girl. Thanks for reading and thanks for following our story. XOXO

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  31. Your baby is beautiful! Thank you for such a thoughtful post :)

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  32. Your Baby is gorgeous and don't let anyone tell you otherwise! I heart the rolls. My first Baby had those too. My second is skinny as can be. I miss fat rolls :-)
    Alexandra

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    1. Thank you Alexandra. Her rolls are to die for. Agree. XOXO :)

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  33. What should your child be referred to besides Lilah? How about, "that beautiful baby with the big blue eyes", or, "that sweet little girl with the cute smile"? My kids have tubes hanging from their pockets (as does my husband) due to them having juvenile diabetes, and using pumps. When people ask, "what's that string?" we say, "it's a pancreas, we are so cool, ours is on the outside!" Good luck, your child is beautiful, and regardless of what obstacles come her way, she will always be an amazing person you created with love.

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    1. Love that response... for me adding humor in life takes you really far. Thank you for that. XOXO

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  34. Join us at Family Member where we work to eradicate hateful language targeting special needs and disabilities. We have been very successful at getting lots of pages and groups removed on Facebook that target little people.
    It's a lot like playing whack-a-mole but slowing we make progress.
    www.familymemberinc.org

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  35. For those concerned with removing one tiny word from the English dictionary, our English lexicon is one of the largest in the world. We have close to 750,000 distinct senses of words in our language. Removing one word from our dictionary really doesn't matter in an argument to protect children, especially this sweet child. Removing one word is much easier than changing people's hearts and minds. It also allows others to know who still needs education (there are still people I know personally who use the n-word and r-word, but I know why and it comes from hate and fear of African Americans, Learning-disabled and Down Syndrome people).

    Thank you for this well written article!

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    1. Brilliant. Why didn't I think of saying that! Sheesh! Lol. Thank you. XOXO

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  36. Your daughter is a true gift from God and is beautiful. Scream, throw stones do whatever you want to protect her, it is your given right.

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  37. I promise xo

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  38. I promise! And I promise to keep teaching my almost 15 year old son that our differences are what make us special. And just like her bright blue eyes and huge personality, Lilah's height difference is just another thing that makes her beautiful and special! She doesn't need a label...she is just Lilah. :) I'm so thankful that I discovered your beautiful family on IG. Lilah and her gorgeous face are a highlight of my IG feed every single day! XO

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    1. Thank you Lori! I really appreciate all your support. That is so sweet of you to say... XOXO

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  39. Your parents did a wonderful job of raising a very special daughter, with beautiful writing skills and confidence. I appreciate very much learning from you. BTW, Lilah has the most gorgeous eyes and smile! I promise!

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    1. Thank you so much, My parents are amazing. They are still teaching me, as it should be! Lol. Thank you for being open to learning. That is awesome. XOXO

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  40. Thank you for sharing your words...I couldn't have expressed it better myself. I too was blessed with the gift of a small baby girl, who is now 2 1/2 and amazes me more everyday. Lilah is so precious and blessed to have such an incredible mama!

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    1. Congratulations on your daughter... amazing how they sneak right in and steal our hearts! XOXO

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  41. I promise. Your daughter is BEAUTIFUL, and she is lucky to have you as a mother!

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  42. Your baby is adorable!!! She should be the Gerber baby or something! SO cute!

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  43. this post is fantastic. I just started a site to campaign against this word and I'm thrilled to see other people are doing the same. Help us spread the word to end the word.

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    1. Great to hear. E-mail me privately about your cause so we can learn form each other. laspencer01@gmail.com

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  44. Awesome, awesome post! Education is key, the key that will help change our society ... I want to help with that change! Shared on my Facebook page today in hopes of educating at least one person today! Sending love and prayers to your family!!

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and for sharing. That means so much... XOXO

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  45. Thank you for writing about this. Too many people in our society could care less about the things they say or the way they treat people. It's a shame, really. I hope more and more people read about your story because hopefully it will educate those who do speak that word. It's disgraceful to hear people say, talk about, or call anyone any derogatory word. Thank you again for this message. Lilah is a beautiful child. As well as your other child. She will grow up to know that she is loved and that "mama's" got her back because of the importance of this matter. Prayers to you and your family. God Bless!!

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    1. Thank you for joining us in his cause. I really appreciate it. XOXO

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  46. I try to never use slurs of any kind. Your daughter will grow up to be a wonderful child, teenager and woman, because she has family that will totally support her and love her AND that is all that matters. And because she will have those two things if she hears that slur she will be able to hear it and know that who ever said it is ignorant and isn't that sad for them. I worked with special ed children for 25 yrs. and loved them all dearly. If people don't get it-so be it. Those of us that do, have enough love and kindness to make up for them. God will give you strength and your love for your little girl will power you through all obstacles. GOD BLESS YOU and YOUR FAMILY!

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    1. Right on sister (or brother..)! Thank you for commenting and I really appreciate your words. XOXO

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  47. Your daughter is gorgeous. I could lose myself in those eyes! Thank you for helping the world be a better place.

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    1. She does have incredible eyes! Thanks for reading. XOXO

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  48. Hi I'm Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)gmail.com

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  49. My name is Kristyn. I am the mother of a beautiful little girl who was born with a large deep purple hemangioma covering one of her cheeks, her ear and part of her neck. I too understand the sting of ignorant words being spoken about your precious child just because she is different.
    I want to commend and thank you for speaking out and educating others.
    Your angel is perfect and beautiful and with you as a mother she will be filled with such confidence that she will rise above the ignorance of others.
    I takes stand along side you and I promise to end that word. And educate my children to take this stand as well

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    1. Kristyn, Thank you for sharing. I commend your courage. Congratulations on your daughter, I imagine she has brought you more joy than you ever thought possible. Having this experience for my family, I have learned so much. I can honestly say I used to feel sorry for parents of children with differences I saw out in public. Sad to say. But, I didn't;t know... I didn't know how these precious children can unlock the secret to happiness. Thank God for differences. Thank God for these girls. Much love to you mama. XOXO

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  50. Leslie, just got around to reading this. It is informative and oh so eloquently written. Bravo, mama. I promise. xLara

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  51. Leslie you are amazing! Thank you for sharing this message! I never knew it was a derogatory term until I read this but I never used the term either. I definitely will NOT now!!! Keep sharing God's love and advocating for LIlah (who, btw, is absolutely GORGEOUS!!!) You are an AMAZING woman and mother! I am proud to call you part of my family :)

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    1. Thank you Danielle. Thanks for reading and sharing. It is wonderful to have family support and thank you for that. XOXO

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  52. Thank you for sharing this! I have a child who has cerebral palsy and various developmental disabilities, primarily intellectual and language. I have always been big on what some people call "politically correct" language - but I would call it non-hateful language. But like you, once you have a child that you know could be a target of a hate word, it makes you even more sensitized and convinced that you need to let people know why this word (in our case, primarily retard or cripple)why words MATTER and don't tell me words can never hurt! Anyway, just wanted to give you a virtual high-five and let you know that your message rings true and I am so impressed at your dedication. Have you read anything by Kathy Snow? She has a website, disabilityisnatural.com and she discusses "person-first language" at length. As in, I have a child with an intellectual disability, not a mentally disabled child. She is a person first and foremost. I was a First Steps Coordinator for several years and one of my clients had achondroplasia and his mother did not even like the word dwarfism. I kind of agree - too many visions of Snow White. Is there a movement to change the term? Thanks so much, and of course, I promise. The first thing I will do is publish this to my facebook page. You are incredible. Keep fighting the good fight and love and blessings to you and your family.

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    1. Susan... thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your story. I am feeling your high-five and it feels great to be supported by other strong mamas like you. I have not heard of Kathy Snow but I will certainly look into that. Yes, we are still deciding what terms work for our family. Dwarfism doesn't bother me because it is actually a medical term but who knows, maybe someday it will! I do think it is strange that because my daughter has a disorder that she becomes a-something. Like a dwarf. What else can you be born with that makes you a-something. You know what I mean? That is really hard to explain with written words as opposed to spoken words. Thank you for sharing.. means a lot. XOXO

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  53. Hello! We just learned about ants together! :) Your blog came across my Facebook newsfeed last week and I knew you looked familiar today. I should have said something at the park, but wasn't 100% sure you were the same person - wanted to pull it back up and check first. Anyway, I just wanted to applaud your writing and say it was lovely to be with you and your children today. I love the way you interact with both of your beautiful kids. Thanks for inspiring me.
    - Erin Nixon (Joey's Mom :)

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    1. Thank you for your comment Erin! So nice to meet you! Looking forward to seeing you again. XOXO

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  54. Hello! :) I am a mother to 7 month old baby with Achondroplasia too. Can I get in touch with you through email? I can see from your photos that your lovely Lilah can sit up already. Its wonderful. My darling Julia still cant roll over her tummy nor can carry her head straight. Please get in touch with me Leslie.

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    1. Hi there... you can reach me via e-mail at laspencer01@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you. XOXO

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  55. I promise... Thank you. I use to use this word. I had no idea it was derogatory. I will not use it anymore ever. I will tell averyone who will listen why not to use the word. Your daughter is beautiful. In a big way you have touched my heart.

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    1. Thank you for learning. Thank you for understanding. Thank you for loving. XOXO

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  56. I promise... We just returned from the LPA Conference in DC. Thank you for fighting with and for us!

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  57. Thank you...So glad you got to attend... sounded amazing. Alreay looking forward to SD 2014! XOXO

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  58. So I am a little late in commenting on this post - but it has literally brought me to tears. As a mama of a little boy with Down Syndrome the r-word is the "word" for us. I know of the ESPN special that you spoke about and I too fear this will be a word to describe Mason. I fear this for all special needs kids - they are more alike than different and it takes all of us to make people understand this. These words hurt - not only the kids but all of us who love them so.

    Rock on Leslie - you are such a advocate for that beautiful girl of yours. Our down syndrome association locally is bringing awareness to all by asking people to spread the word to end the word. When I read the posts on there from the people who have pledged, it is not only for people affected by down syndrome it is for all that have a "word".

    You are an incredible mama warrior - keep it up!

    XXOO

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  59. This is way late, but I just read this today and thought back to my childhood friend Amanda, who was a small person, I don't remember what her diagnosis was, but I was just remembering the first day of sixth grade, the kids who had gone to the other elementary school just quietly asked each other at first, how old is she? I actually have no memory of anyone ever making fun of her, in fact everyone wanted to be her friend. Not even because she was different, just because she was nice, funny, pretty, smart, friendly. She was just my friend who happened to be smaller than everyone else. Your daughter's light shines through even as a baby, I have no doubt it will shine even brighter as she grows up.

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  60. Amazing piece Leslie....I'm so with ya...I feel the same way about certain words to describe Down syndrome...Love this piece...

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  61. Your baby is beautiful! So happy :) I think you are a wonderful mother. Just throwing that out there.

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  62. I LOVE this! Your daughter is absolutely beautiful!! My son has achondroplasia. This word (and people's casual use of it) drives menuts! I am not crazy about dwarf either, He is not a fictional character but a little boy, a handsome wonderful, "short" little boy! I am sure you daughter will grow up secure and proud to be who she is, with a parent like you. The heart in a little person's body holds as much love as the heart in an average size one.

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  63. I came to this blog because I follow Rico Abreu. I first became aware of Rico 3 years ago at Cowtown Speedway. He was only a name to me then but I became interested in him because he passed more cars than any other driver. He did not win the race so after the race his car returned to the pits. I had no idea what he looked like I just knew he was a heck of a race driver. A month later I was watching the Chili Bowl on television and they interviewed Rico. I had no idea he was a little person. I give you this back story because at the time I called him a "midget". I had no idea that was a derogatory term, to be honest I thought Dwarf was the derogatory term.

    Thank you for your story and for setting me straight. You have a beautiful daughter and I know she will be successful because of her strong family and your love for her.

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  64. I found your blog after coming across a picture of Lilah on instagram and thought that she was one of the prettiest babies I've ever seen. Those eyes...those curls...my goodness she's got great genes. She is a definite gift. This is coming a little later than when you actually wrote this as I just recently started reading...but I promise.

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