Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stupid Nanosophobes

There’s one form of cripple phobia I don’t understand at all. It’s nanosophobia, which is fear of dwarfs, or little people, as they’re called.

And make no mistake that we, the statistically average in stature, are mighty scared of little people. Deep down inside, we’re flat out terrified of them. Why else would we be so obsessed with dressing them up like elves and bunnies? It’s our desperate attempt to make them cuddly and thus temper the enormous threat they pose.

But I don’t get it. At least with other cripple phobias, I get where they’re coming from. They’re stupid, but I get where they’re coming from. Like people are afraid of quadriplegics because they see one and it reminds them that at any moment they too could slip on a banana peel and become a quadriplegic. So they’re afraid to be around quadriplegics which is where the stupid part comes in because avoiding quadriplegics does nothing to decrease one’s odds of becoming a quadriplegic. In fact, you’re probably better off getting to know as many quads as you can and finding out if they became quads because of some crazy daredevil shit they did. Then you’ll know not to do that same crazy daredevil shit.

But fear of little people can’t come from that same place, can it? As delirious as this abject fear makes us, surely we all still realize that you can’t slip on a banana peel and shrink. And we’re all aware that little people aren’t contagious, right? You won’t become one if you use a public toilet after one.

So maybe it’s more like homophobia. When a guy raves like Rick Santorum, you just know that there’s a big bawdy drag queen with lavender eyelashes and a cone bra inside of him, clawing at his ribcage trying to bust out. Maybe those of us that are most petrified by the sight of little people have a secret burning desire to be a whole lot shorter. But we dare not express it, lest we be shunned by our families and friends.

But that can’t be it. I bet it’s those damn seven dwarfs. They make us all think that little people are so shallow that the entire spectrum of their humanity can be captured in seven personality types. They’re all either sleepy, happy, grumpy, dopey, sneezy or bashful. Or they’re doctors. And they all sleep in the same bed under one enormous blanket. To accurately represent the diversity among little people, Snow White would have to be followed around by about 3.5 million dwarfs. Oh sure, some would be sleepy or dopey, but others would be alert or brilliant or didactic or bemused or pushy or depressed or sarcastic or generous or vindictive or whatever. They would be bank presidents and single moms and acrobats and violinists and fry cooks and drug pushers and so on. But everyone’s been so brainwashed by those damn seven dwarfs.

I don’t know. I don’t get it. I guess I never will. When we of the vertically-acceptable majority are so unabashedly vertocentric, it reflects a deep insecurity on our part. We’re determined not to give up our tallness without a fight.


  1. I actually was once engaged to a guy who, despite his initial assurances to me that he was "OK" with gay people, turned out to be a homophobe who cringed in dyspeptic unease and disgust when seeing two men holding hands in public. I couldn't take it. Then, as I was trying to break it off with him, he dropped a bomb on me, I guess to manipulate me into staying: he secretly crossdressed and kept a stash of women's lingerie catalogs under his bed, not for jacking off, but for fantasizing about wearing the clothes. I broke it off anyhow--I don't want be with anyone that deeply ashamed of himself.

    So yeah, that kind of shit is real.

    Phobias are inherently irrational, so they won't make rational sense. But there is something particularly grating to me about people who have hangs up about other people not fitting their preconceptions. I'm autistic, so I deal with "fear of the different" in my own way all the time. I have PTSD from being abused in an institution as a teenager, by people who thought I could be systematically shamed, humiliated and tortured into not being so "weird". I however don't think my past abusers secretly wanted to be a shunned and misunderstood autisitc teenage girl. What I experienced was sheer HATRED that I even existed at all. But I do think that my existence triggered a fear in them, that if by chance they turned out to be "different" (translation: "lacking", "deficient", "flawed" etc.) in some way themselves, others would do to them what they did to me. So to prevent their own freakiness from being discovered, they just made sure they were seen as the stalwart defenders of the status quo and hurt god knows how many people like me in the process. Pretty damn sick, isn't it? Heh, and we think we're so civilized.

    Cade DeBois (@lifepostepic)

    1. Christianity has made being "bad" shameful and so damn good.

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  3. I feel left out of your rant. I am not afraid of little people. I'm afraid I might say something stupid like, 'Could you please get me a glass,' then realize the glasses are in the cupboard that's a good two feet higher than they can reach.
    I think the Wizard of Oz is to blame though, for many people's phobia. They associate little people with terrifying flying monkeys....and the rest is Nanosophobia.

  4. It's because of superheroes like Daredevil. Everybody "knows" that blind people get super human hearing to make up for it. Everybody "knows" that paraplegics get super strength in their upper bodies. Other areas and sense compensate for the loss, is the standard story. We've all heard these before and it makes sense in the part of our brains that really wants the universe to be fair.

    So what do little people get? I have no idea. But it's gotta be something totally sweet.

  5. I started off in life being small by being born early, and then there was the dieting to stay small during wrestling in grades 7-9, so I was too small and had a fear of large people. But I overcame this fear by becoming large and s-fear-ical by getting a wife who fed me very weLL, no tooo weLL. So now I am hopefooly headed back to smaLLer. I am hoping my fear of large people doesn't return, especiaLLy since I have been one, or rather two.

  6. Thank you Smart Ass for brining this up.
    On a related note:
    I am weary of dwarf humor. Why do cheap comedies always try that? What is this some kind of throwback to fabliaux tales of the middle ages? Or trickster stories from the renaissance?

    Word to movie producers: Just project-manage your screen writers a little more to come up with some actual dialogue instead of this tired schtick....jeez.

  7. Thanks for smart-assing about this topic. My 82-year-old aunt is an achondroplastic dwarf. She went to college and became an accountant for Sears Roebuck & Co. She drove a car with hand controls. She was and remains deeply active in charity work even as the ageing process has made her even shorter. Since her parents died, she has lived alone and, until recently, traveled.

    When I heard about Rosie O'Donnell and Chelsea Handler ridiculing dwarfs, I thought, well now we really know all we need to know about those two women. I'm so glad Oprah cancelled Rosie's show.