We prefer to be called “little people”

Leila Aboussir

Neck cramps, blisters from high heels, and strained calf and arm muscles from over reaching: only a few life-altering symptoms those of us (vertically-challenged) people are forced to deal with. Living your life at everyone else’s shoulder height is easier said than done. The constant ridicule we receive––based solely off the fact that we can’t ride the biggest rides at amusement parks––isn’t fair.

The jokes aren’t funny: our favorite dessert is not shortcake, we do not make cookies for Keebler inside an old tree, and we definitely will not die first if there is a flood. Okay, that last one may be true, but need I remind you that good things come in small packages? Or just how convenient and cute “fun-sized” is? So get your elbow off of my head; it’s not an armrest.

I don’t remember when exactly I realized that I was shorter than the average person. It may have been when my so-called friend decided to draw a stick-person caricature of me with a measurement scale from my head to my toes reading 3 centimeters. Or maybe when the doctor told me at my biannual check-up that my height was in the 15th percentile for my age.

An experience unlike any other occurred this summer, reminding me just how minuscule my build is compared to those around me: Freshman Orientation. Link Crew provided me with the opportunity to meet and greet the new freshmen entering our school. The morning was filled with games and activities which took no toll on my self-esteem, until a certain game––one involving both witty intelligence and overall intellectual understanding–came about; “Everyone line yourselves up in order from shortest to tallest,” announced one of the Link Crew leaders.

Thinking highly of myself because of my age, I immediately began to head straight for the “tall side.” Upon arrival, I noticed kneecaps at my eye level. Looking straight up at the tall tower of human being standing next to me i thought, “It’s okay Leila…you can’t win them all.” I casually walked down the line to find my perfect fit.

I began walking and examining the people who were clearly taller than me: The Sky Scraper, The Mountain, The Giraffe, and even The Michael Jordan. I finally found my spot between The Leprechaun and The Lawn Gnome. Looking down to where I started my journey, the line seemed endless. Here I stood, second shortest only to a lawn gnome, in a line of baby freshmen.

Just because I am short does not mean my life is “short-lived.” Rather, the amount of success in the world given to those with a growing problem is endless, for example: Elton John (5’3”), Yoda (25 inches), and Snooki (4’9”… 5’2” with the hair bump). So I challenge those who joke about my height––and especially those who ask me for a “low five!”––to get down on their knees and see the world from my point of view. The grass is a lot greener (and closer), the sun is a lot brighter (and further away), and you really become aware of your surroundings (like the jeans of your peers). And if that doesn’t open your eyes, I may need to take an elevator up to your level and open them for you.