Tuesday, March 28, 2006

postheadericon TLC's "Little People, Big World"

TLC's "Little People, Big World" is making waves among the viewing public in North America. They portray the everyday lives of the Roloff family. Matt and Amy Roloff are in their mid-40's and both are dwarfs or little people. They have four children, just one of whom is a "little person".

What I would like to know is this: Is "Little People, Big World" a legit excuse for voyeurism into a dwarf's world, or is the show really helping to educate people about dwarfs and dwarfism?

Will we allow little people to truly live "normal" lives doing everyday things like most of us? Or will we continue to gawk at them making them feel that their physical differences do separate them from the rest of us?

Finally, I would love to read some books on dwarfism, so if anyone has any titles to suggest, please pass them on.

10 comments:

sruthi said...

hey i watch that show! and i remember in one show, the older average size twin (i forget his name...jeremy? zach?) says 'the one time i wish my mom wasn't shorter than me is when she yells at me, because i feel like i'm talking down to her when i talk back...and i literally am, and i really wish she was taller then"

Lotus Reads said...

LOL, my daughter would know how that felt - she's atleast 2 inches taller than me now! :)

Also, you know what struck me funny? It's when Zach (the "little person" twin) responded that he'd like three kids and that all three kids should be dwarfs. I have heard that in the deaf community too some prefer to have kids like them. Any psychological insights on this?

sruthi said...

well it could just be because if he went through his whole life being one way, and still made it through...he doesn't know the world from any other perspective, and perhaps that's the easiest way for him to pass on things to his kids. And in the deaf community, it would be more efficient for them to communicate to their kids in that way since the parents are already proficient in it. But mostly, i just think it's because when you're brought up one way your whole life and don't know what it would be like if you weren't deaf or weren't a dwarf, it's literally a way of life for you, just like being average size and being able to hear might be for someone else.

Lotus Reads said...

First of all, apologies for such a badly-phrased question. I wrote that early this morning, before I had any coffee in my bloodstream!

Thanks for being such a sport and responding anyway! I did suspect the motives were along those lines, in other words, most parents want their kids to stay within their (the parents') comfort zone. However, it's largely unfair on the child. Imagine an uneducated parent being uncomfortable with their kids getting an education...

ugh, got to go,more later

sruthi said...

yea! What really impressed me about the roloff family is that the dad is so accomplished. If you heard about all the things he's done and how well it's all done, you would never suspect that he has this disability: i.e, dwarfism, and the specific type of dwarfism he has where the joints are very flimsy and he needs to use crutches to get around, spent most of his childhood in the hospital, etc. (ok i'm not very well versed on the political correctness of calling dwarfism a disability, so apologies in advance if this is taken the wrong way by anyone)They have a huge farm, his dad owned a business, and the mom works two jobs. It's all quite impressive. Having accomplished all of this, he expects that much and more from his kids, especially zach because he doesn't want his height to be an excuse/obstacle.

I think with education, it's usually the opposite effect. Because when the parents don't have an education, they can't hold a job, and can't support their kids...the roloff parents had the education and that's what eventually made them successful. The uneducated parents would want their kids to get out of the cycle even though they couldn't themselves.

Lotus Reads said...

'tis true, it's amazing what that family has accomplished - I really do think this program on TLC is helping us to see little people in a totally different light. But then again, I have to wonder - have they gone out of their way to pick a successful family to be the poster family for dwarfism? What about other families, do they do just as well? I tune in to the TLC because I don't know a single little person and wanted to gain insights into their world...

Here's a nice article in the Slate that is asking the question: Will this show change our perceptions of little people?

http://www.slate.com/id/2138626/

sruthi said...

oo you're probably right, they could have picked an 'outlier' from the dwarf community. Which is ok, since there are so many depressing shows out there already!

Susan in Italy said...

Hey, This whole dialogue has reminded me of something. I think you're right about the
comfort zone' reason for parents with a "different" (ugh! now that's pathetically PC!) quality to want their kids to have that same quality. I think it's also political. For example in the deaf community, that was mentioned, a lot of people are angry with medical practitioners who offer pregnant women the possibility to test for deafness (among so many other things) since this: a.) puts deafness on the same level with diseases and birth defects, and b.) would give a pregnant woman the possibility to have an abortion rather than bringing a deaf child into the world. So, there is now something akin to a civil rights movement to re-valorize deafness as a difference and not as a defect.

Lotus Reads said...

Very interesting, Susan! Genetic testing can be a wonderful tool if used wisely and well. I do understand the deaf community's concern but if they weigh the pros and cons they will probably find that genetic testing is a blessing because often deafness may be only one of a group of medical problems that a person might possess (deafness is very often linked with heart, kidney or eye disease) and knowing that in advance of the baby's birth can give the baby a better start in life.

BTW, do you get the network TLC in Italy?

Susan in Italy said...

Actually, I don't even know what the TLC network IS! The Tender Loving Care network? Italian TV is a whole different ballgame.