Over the years, I’ve begun to learn about the kinds of places I can comfortably live without worrying about my safety.
Cincinnati is alright. There’s a good number of white trash crackers who feel like it is their collective responsibility to make me feel as objectified as possible. Their spawn usually like to comment on my weight as well as my height. “Look at that lady! She’s fat AND short!”
Really, fat is the thing you notice first? Really?
Bigger diverse cities are where I feel safest. I’m no weirder than the other weirdos. I think that’s one of the many reasons why my high school experience was ideal. Walnut Hills High School is diverse in many ways- racially, economically, and socially. There was a place for everyone. It also helped that it’s college prep so everyone is smart enough not to be raging douchebags.
After high school, I lived for a year and a half in Amish country south of Cleveland while I attended The College of Wooster. The townies I had experience with were low class rednecks who enjoyed driving through campus to harass anyone who looked even remotely different. One notable event was when one of them screamed “MIDGET!” at me out a car window before shooting me in the forehead with an airsoft gun. That was the most heartfelt welcome I have ever had.
Being short-statured in Europe appears to be different than living in the United States. When I went to Greece the summer of 2006 with my friend Amanda (also a dwarf), it was bizarre. Many people (particularly shopkeepers) did not hesitate to approach us, get overly friendly, touch us, pinch our cheeks, and in general make us feel like children. At least they weren’t mean? But dude. Don’t touch me.
When I studied in Munich the summer of 2008, I probably felt the most secure in myself and my safety. I didn’t witness too much staring or whispered nudging conversations directed my way. I just figured all the Germans had better things to do than worry about what I looked like. My differences did not matter in their busy days.
The only thing in regards to my height that I remember was a little boy on the U-Bahn (subway) who turned to his mother and very calmly said “Eine kleine Frau!” while pointing over at me. Yes, young man. I am in fact a small woman. Your polite observation is correct. If he had been here in America, he would have jabbed his mother in the arm and said “MOM. MOM. MOM. LOOK AT THAT FAT MIDGET.”
In a perfect world, I will figure out a way to move to a bigger city. Chicago, NYC, LA, and Atlanta all have appeal. I just want to get somewhere that I feel like I have a chance of blending in. I will never truly be able to be anonymous, but I’ll try.