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The “M” word and why I use it

There’s something that has always confused me a bit and that’s the insistence on the part of people with the various forms of dwarfism at being called “little people”. The article below states, “The word ‘midget’ has been sometimes used to refer to people of short stature, but is now considered to be a slur by the majority of the members of our community.” While it might be considered a slur by that community I don’t think it is so considered so by almost everyone else.


Conversely, for average-height folk the use of “little people” is and has almost always been a derogatory term. I’ve never understood why that would be the term to desire when it’s connotation is exactly what they are trying to avoid. When I hear a politician say they are going to do something for “all the little people out there” I cringe. They mean the unimportant people, the common people, in other words, not important big people like them.

In my opinion any role that Billy Barty took was a success. He was one of those rare actors that shined regardless of the dialogue or quality of the movie. A movie might bomb but you could still look at Barty’s part and say he did a quality job. For me, he was a midget, not a little person. He was huge in personality and screen presence and talent. So is Warwick Davis who is a great actor and interesting person to listen to. In both cases I don’t judge them by their size (that sounds familiar) but rather by who they are or what their skill set is, in this case, acting really well. I bring them up because they highlight just how not little, little people are.

I respect a person’s right to want to be called something or the other and feel it fits them as a group but, like with transgender people, I reserve the right to use the term that I want. For me, if I call you a little person, I’m likely insulting you. If I call you a midget, I just meant to say you are short and nothing more. If I call you a dwarf I mean to say you are either someone with a form of dwarfism medically diagnosed, or a bearded ax-wielding miner from Middle Earth.

Even the words fag and nigger can be used in non-derogatory ways and those are considered harsh words by most. How they are used matters though. Hillbilly can be used with pride, or with disdain.

Rather than tell me what I should and should not say, perhaps people should take the time to figure out what I mean by what I say instead. I don’t think the onus is always on the speaker, sometimes it’s on the hearer, to assess their own feelings about what’s being said. People so often think that controlling others is the way to address their own emotions and make the bad feelings go away. I think that’s rather unhealthy. Sometimes people are going to be mean and use words that hurt your feelings, you will never stop that. I propose then that the better course of action is to figure out why those things hurt or even if they are intended to hurt, and find a way to deal with the pain, make it go away, or understand that you are not what they say you are.

Often the response to doing otherwise is similar to this exchange from Willow.

“Don’t call me a peck!”
“Oh, I’m sorry! Peck! Peck! Peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck!”


Billy Barty

The word ‘midget’ has been sometimes used to refer to people of short stature, but is now considered to be a slur by the majority of the members of our community.

Source: The “M” Word

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