Friday, August 7, 2015

5 Things You Absolutely Do Not Get to Say to Me

If you know me at all, you know that I'm a peacekeeper. I'm pretty quiet and I typically try to fly under the radar-- especially in public. I hate causing a scene, because I know that my appearance alone draws enough unwanted attention, so I usually try to balance that out with a calm personality. However, I use the words "typically" and "usually" because there are always exceptions. And this is one of them. 

Since turning 21 earlier this summer, I have come to learn about the whole new world of the bar scene. Like any other senior in college, I enjoy going out with my friends on weekends and catching up over a drink or two and dancing. Always dancing. But along with the fun comes a lot of intoxicated people and I know all too well the results of combining alcohol and dwarfism-- or any difference for that matter. At the beginning, I learned to just accept people's rudeness and move on and try to focus on having fun with my friends. My parents raised me to not let my disability stop me from enjoying life and going to the bars is definitely part of enjoying life-- can I get an amen from someone in the back? 

This whole new experience has brought a lot of ups and downs, but for the most part the good has outweighed the bad. And I believed it always would. And then last night happened. Some friends and I set out with the "work never ends but college does" attitude, determined to have a great Thursday night. But it was ugly, due to some unwanted and rude people saying very inappropriate things. I have spent the day reflecting on the things that happened and that I should not have to accept. 

Here are the 5 things that you (read: probably not actually YOU, but people in general) do not get to say to me anymore:

#1 "HOLY SHIT I LOVE LITTLE PEOPLE!" 

Not one single conversation that has started with this line has ever ended well, yet people keep using it. On any given weekend night, I hear this line shouted from across the dance floor or bar as a sad attempt to gain my attention. Don't even bother asking, because no, you cannot take a picture of me to put on your snap story. I came to have a drink with my friends and have some fun after a long week of work. I do not care to hear about how much you love Little People Big World. And no, for the love of Jesus himself, I am not a cast member from Little Women: LA. Also, might I add that there would be a problem if I entered a bar and approached a group of people, shouting, "I LOVE BLACK PEOPLE!"? It is not-- and never will be-- ok to refer to people only by their appearance. When you acknowledge me only for the fact that I am a person with dwarfism and you, for some reason, think that's awesome, then you have objectified my physical disability to mean more than the other things that make me who I am-- my personality, my dedication to my education and future career, my friendships and willingness to meet new people, and probably my really embarrassing laugh. Yes, I do wholeheartedly believe I am an awesome person who… also has dwarfism. You can leave it at that. 
On the other hand, if you enter the bar, see me from across the room, and run towards me yelling, "Oh my god it's Courtney!!!!" followed by a hug and more screaming, chances are you're one of my sorority sisters and we haven't seen each other for like the last 18 hours, so we're about to take a photo for Instagram. That's fine. 
Otherwise, goodbye.  

Alternative option: Wave, ask my name, and come dance with me and my friends. We are some great people who know how to have a great time and it doesn't really matter that I am a little person.

#2 "You're every guy in here's dream." 

Nope, I'm just going to stop you right there. I don't want to hear about your fantasies of having sex with a little person-- or midget, the term you probably used. You only feel that way because of the disgusting things that you have seen in the media. Having sex with someone who is smaller than you will not make your penis appear larger. Your comments are objectifying, offensive, and way beyond intrusive. In response to any variation of this line, I will probably just turn away from you and towards my friends, because I really suck at coming up with something to say to your face. Please don't offer to buy me a drink if I've already stopped conversation, because then I'm really going to have to find something to say to make you leave and you won't like it. You'll get a little butthurt and that leads us to #3. 

Alternative option: If you want to approach me at the bar and tell me that I'm beautiful, cool! I already know that I am, but it doesn't hurt hearing it respectfully from someone else. Introduce yourself. And if we vibe well and you care to offer to buy me a drink, I'll probably accept. I'm not scary. 

#3 "What, you don't like me because I'm (insert a race, religion, or other identifying group here)?" 

Yes, exactly! I'm trying to end this shitty conversation with you because you're Mexican! No, actually, I don't like you simply for the fact that my asshole meter is alarming right now and you stink of complete, utter bullshit. I like to consider myself a very friendly person. I will carry on a conversation with literally anyone-- people waiting in line at the grocery store, my pharmacist, cute elderly people at church, the mailman, you name it. I got that trait from my mom, the lady who will tell her life story to anyone who will listen (even if they didn't want to hear it). THEREFORE. If I am acting in anyway that indicates that I do not want to talk to you, you probably did or said something to piss me off, whether or not it included points #1 or #2 and NOT because you have purple hair, are Atheist, speak a different language, are wearing a Packer's jersey, etc. 

Alternative option: "I'm very sorry that I offended you. Can you tell me what I did wrong so that I may fix it?" I'm a super forgiving person and I understand that some people make mistakes due to being uneducated. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt if you seem sincere.

So if you're like my mom, you've probably read this far and are thinking, "Gosh, Courtney, maybe going out to the bars is not the greatest idea. How about you find somewhere safer to hang out?"

I'm just going to hit you back with a big NO. Because I have heard this line too many damn times:

#4 "Well, that's what happens at bars." 

No. I refuse to believe that. I will not believe that. Saying such a thing puts the blame on the victim-- ahem, me-- suggesting that I shouldn't go if I don't want to be offended or violated. As a 21-year-old female college student, I have every right as the next person to go out with my friends on the weekend and grab a couple drinks, dance, and maybe even talk to a cute guy or two, then eat leftover pizza for breakfast the next day with my roommates and binge watch Netflix as we recover. 
So, no, the things I have experienced is not what "happens at bars." That's what happens when people are uneducated, rude, and haven't been raised by their mamas to love and accept other people for their differences. I won't stop going out with my friends because of my bad experiences. I do not have to sacrifice my fun weekends because of the actions of others. Instead, I will fight against it and hope that maybe one day, these people will understand that I don't have to take their shit.  

Alternative option: "How about we try a new bar and see if we can meet some new people elsewhere?" You can't run from bad experiences, but I am always up for trying something new. Even better? "Hey, I know when we go out tonight, there may be some rude people out there, but we are still going to make it a fun night." Damn right we are.  

Last, but definitely not least, here's the kicker of them all. As my friends and family and people who love me, you have probably said this to me as an attempt to help, without realizing that it's not helpful at all… but that's ok. We're all learning. In the future, just try to please take this off your List of Things to Say to Courtney When She's Upset:  

#5 "Don't let it bother you" / "Those people don't matter." 

It bothers me. That's why we're here. That's why, at 10pm on a Friday night, I'm laying in bed writing this instead of hopping on the bus to The District to order another Funky Monkey at Daiquiri Factory or dancing on the speakers at 2nd Ave. I'm not going out tonight. I'm speaking out tonight. 
Unless you are a 4'2", blonde hair, blue eyed, 21-year-old, female, Communication Sciences and Disorders major at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois with Achondroplastic Dwarfism, YOU do not get to tell me that I shouldn't let it bother me. Unless you are Courtney Lynn Simross, YOU do not get to say that those people don't matter. You've never cried on the bus ride home because you overheard guys laughing about how they'd love to "f*ck a midget" but that they'd make sure to wear a condom because they "don't want one of those kids."   

Alternative option: "Yes, this hurts and it's unfair. What are we going to do so that it hopefully doesn't happen again?" Hint? Education and awareness. Always. If you love me, you'll join me in this fight. It's not fun. But I know that one day people will catch on and stop being so rude. One day.     


22 comments:

  1. This is absolutely amazing. Fantastic writing and a great way to speak out. Keep being you and educating the world. You're awesome. :)

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  2. Your style of writing is perfect with the insertion of humor into a situation where I’m sure you just want to slap a few faces. I sure would! You are, and always have been, beautiful which inevitable attracts men. Let’s face it, a large portion of them flunked, “How To Behave With A Woman To Whom You Are Attracted 101,“ or forgot to register for that class in the first place. Recently, I’ve been reminded of the ones who have completely missed, “How To Behave In Society 101.” Education and awareness is definitely the key. There are some, though, who seem to feel they are entitled to just being rude and others who are too stupid (and I purposefully didn’t use the word uneducated) to know that they are being rude. I’m not sure that anything will ever help them. The world in which we live just doesn’t seem to see people as just people without categorizing them in some manner.

    On another point, if I saw you dancing on speakers at 2nd Ave., I would definitely want a photo simply because you were dancing on speakers. Of course, I’d have to share it with Caitlin and then file it away for possible use as future blackmail. Do you do tables? Have you been on those speakers? You don’t have to answer those questions in case your mother’s reading your blog. I love you!!! Keep up the good work!

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    1. Haha, yes! I have been on those speakers! I'm pretty sure that bar wants us to dance on them, and it's pretty much just a joke between me and my friends anyways. I've secretly always wanted to dance on a bar, but I have to find the right time and place to do so-- I hate causing a scene!

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  3. I love this - thank you for posting it! I am the mom of a 29 year old Achon SON who, believe it or not, has also had some bad experiences while out with his friends. Like you he doesn't let it interfere with his social life. Education and awareness. Thank you for spreading some "awareness".

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  4. People like you are the one's who make it easier for those who may not have a voice to speak for themselves! I am currently following to sweet babies on Facebook, Prayers for Baby Ethan & Light and Love for Rocco, both with some sort of dwarfism (possibly still undiagnosed). Anyway, what you are doing may take time since there are so many ignorant and self centered people, but you are making their future days easier! Keep up the great blog and I would love to see you on the speakers showing people how to have fun and to love! Have a happy night!

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  5. You're an amazing lady! I've followed you on Instagram for a couple years now and I hope my Zoey, who is 8, and happens to have Achondroplasia, will be as strong and passionate as you are! Thank you for writing this.

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  6. You go girl!

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  7. Sometimes speaking out is more important than going out. You're an amazing writer and will make big changes.

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  8. Preach Courtney! Amen to you and your courage to speak out. I applaud you.
    -Sarah

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  9. Oh my head. You made me laugh out loud - thank you! YOUR mama done good.

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  10. Love it. especially #5. Get told that all the time even by closest friends, family and even counselors. I actually don't go to bars because of stuff like you've said, but u are absolutely right, we shouldn't have to stop going out because of jerk people. :-)

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  11. Very well written, and very representative of the way most LP women feel.

    Daniel Margulies, Past National President, Little People of America

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  12. Hilarious and all too true! Well-written! This 32 y.o. brown-haired achondroplastic dwarf thinks we would get along very well! I love this piece!

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  13. Nice words Courtney, you are beautiful inside & out. I have a 3yo daughter with achondroplasia & I hope she grows up to be as courageous as you, Regan

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  14. I am recently interested in dwarfism and its social reception. Do you know Warwick Davis? I agree completely with his attitude for his condition and I admire how he faces the critical remarks on his satirical series. He is absolutely the best advocate for little people that I could ever imagine. I also share his views on political correctness. I like how he defends his show "Life is too short". What is your opinion on his attitude?

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  15. Love your blog! As a parent of a 16 year old daughter with dwarfism I think you are a real role model and I will be getting her to read this if she hasn't already. Thank you xx

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  16. So fresh from a very evolved young woman. Kudos.

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  17. Courtney, I am a 40 year old 4 ft achon too. I was in your exact same position when I was your age. And congrats for you for being able to write about this. I often wished I could yell to the world back then about the haters but alas I couldn't. I had to cry and write in my journal but it never gave me the satisfaction. But the satisfaction is that this is now out in the world. We can't change those people. Even at 40 and I'm from Canada, I get hey do you know anyone from Little People Big World and I get those same comments. My advise my girl.....keep dancing, keep going to the bars, keep having a great time. I had my protectors around me as I was much like you...quiet but when I got angry watch out....hear me roar...My suggestion...dance and when you can't ignore them move, dance to your hearts content, and when they stare on the dance floor and you feel the stares and can't ignore it any longer get lost in the music and close those eyes. That's what I did. Music is a part of my soul. Music was my escape and my girls helped me, protected me, and the boys who came later and there are some good ones, I even danced with them while I was on the speaker and they were on the floor so we were the same height...lol...they are around...good luck girl....Don't let these creeps blacken your heart....it did mine a little and it took me a while for me too get my self confidence back....you are Woman Hear you Roar!

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  18. Very cool, i've dwarfism as well, i'm from Brazil, I used to write about my story to let people know but I give up, reading your text maybe I'll get back again, thanks a lot.

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