Between America’s love of cable TV and its tendency to be nosy about the ins and outs of other people’s lives, reality TV shows are huge winners in terms of audience engagement and social media followings. Learning about other people is one way to encourage inclusion and acceptance of diversity, and TV shows following the lives of little people are no exception.
Maybe it’s the fact that little people have more challenges in life than the average person, but viewers are drawn to shows about their lives and anecdotes about their experiences. Whether they’re on the big screen or not, little peoples’ appearances alone invite questions and comments from strangers. Luckily, many people are open about their lives and are willing to share with anyone and everyone to inform and educate the general public.
While you might be surprised to learn that little people can birth genetic children both with dwarfism and without, it’s a scientific fact that is perfectly illustrated by these fifteen little people and their not-so-little families. Many grace our TVs with their big personalities, and others are lesser known but their daily lives are no less interesting because we don’t get a glimpse into them weekly.
15Mom Of Two Sees Daily Challenges
Freelance writer and stay-at-home mom Tiffanie DiDonato doesn’t let being a little person slow her down. In fact, she now has two children despite her rare form of dwarfism. The married mom has diastrophic dysplasia and stands 4 feet 10 inches tall. She reached this height after having limb-lengthening surgery as a child, which helped her add over a foot to her height.
As a mom, DiDonato told People it’s a struggle to keep up with her young, who is of average size, son and the new baby, but she makes it work by choosing her battles as a parent. Some modifications in the house help her manage daily tasks, but she still works hard to keep up with both her average-sized children while managing often debilitating pain that is a side effect of her condition.
14Twin Mom Confirms Worst Fear
Little Women: LA mom Elena Gant has twin sons with her husband Preston. Both babies spent time in the hospital after they were born, but the real heartache came when the parents received genetic testing results. One of the twins is a little person, and the other is average sized. Gant was quoted by People as saying that she feels like it’s her fault, but also that she and her husband will always support the boys and be there for them when things get hard.
Obviously it’s not mom’s fault that genetics played out in this situation- it’s not that crazy to have fraternal twins with different genetics, so Gant shouldn’t blame herself for her baby’s condition. Besides, who better to lead him through life as a little person than his own mom?
13Mom Risks Life For Family
Mom Stacey Herald is only 2 feet 4 inches tall, and doctors warned her against ever having children since they didn’t think she’d survive childbirth. Still, Herald and her husband went on to have three children, all of whom were born early via C-section due to their mom’s genetic condition. Herald has Osteogensis Imperfecta, and it not only stunts her growth, but also causes brittle bones, Motherhood In Style reported.
Of Herald’s three children- two girls and one boy- one child is average height, while the other two inherited their mother’s condition. Daughter Makaya was born measuring 18 inches long, about an average sized baby, but she was already more than half her mom’s height. It seems that after the birth of her third child, who has experienced serious health issues, Herald sort of dropped off the media radar.
12Single Mom Struggles To Control Son
Michelle Harris wrote about her pregnancy and her son’s birth for The Guardian years ago, before she knew whether her son was a little person or average-sized. Later, the Daily Mail elaborated on Harris’ struggles as part of the BBC’s program A Special Kind of Mum. At two years old, little Treziah was almost as tall as his mom, and she admitted that handling his behavior was challenging, to say the least.
Still, this mom overcame serious odds to even birth her baby boy, and luckily he was born completely healthy. For mom, though, having an average-sized child was just the beginning of a long road. When she and her partner split, Harris increasingly had to depend on family to help her cart her newborn around and accomplish daunting tasks like shopping and taking care of her son and her home.
11Dad And Daughter Duo Take On The World
When Rich Willis’ daughter Cherry was born, he was coming off a string of surgeries that left him unable to walk, Caters News reported. While Cherry learned to crawl, Willis re-learned how to walk. They even learned to ride bikes together. The two were practically inseparable as Willis took a medical retirement and stayed home as a full-time dad while his wife works.
Willis and his daughter cook, clean, and play together, even riding bikes (Willis on his specialized cycle) alongside each other. As amazing as their early years were, Willis notes, when Cherry started school, that was the end of their endless days together. However, he commends her for being an outgoing and very accepting little girl who has only benefited from her dad’s unique way of living his life.
10Dramatic Deliveries For Mom Of Two
When Jasmine Arteaga gave birth to her second baby, reality TV cameras were rolling to catch all the drama. The delivery didn’t go as easily as Jasmine had hoped, so her second son was welcomed into the world with a little fanfare. By all appearances, she recovered well from the delivery, and later told People she plans to dedicate her life to her two sons. She shared a video with People where she chose the new baby’s name and talked about her challenging pregnancy.
By all appearances, both of Arteaga’s sons are average-sized, which isn’t surprising since her husband is also average-sized and doesn’t suffer from dwarfism. Photos of Arteaga’s older son cuddling the new baby show a happy big brother. Luckily, Jasmine made it through her uncomfortable pregnancies and delivered two beautiful boys who she says will grow up to be best friends.
9Famous Dad Stays Humble
Martin Klebba is most well-known for his role as Marty in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but he’s also a pretty down-to-earth guy who started a foundation to benefit little people and spends his downtime with his wife and kids. He told Ability Magazine that while it’s frustrating to deal with people’s misconceptions about little people (plus the design flaws that make his everyday life difficult), he focuses on family and friends rather than the negative.
Klebba’s son, Alec, is average-sized, although it’s hard to pin down any details on daughter Makenzie. The actor is relatively private about his personal life, but we’d bet money he’s a super hands-on dad. After all, much of his career is spent being physically active and pretty buff- at least for most of his movie roles.
8TV Actress Graces Little Women Show
Tonya Banks has been in the TV industry for over 30 years, her website’s bio notes, but she decided to join Lifetime’s Little Women: LA show to show people what it’s like living with dwarfism and still kicking butt in showbiz. In addition to her acting chops (she’s been on several TV shows and in a handful of films), Banks also raised an average-sized daughter on her own (dad Kerwin apparently wasn’t around much).
The single mom never let being a little person or being a single parent drag her down, and continues to show every mom what it means to be a boss- regardless of size. Banks even has her own product line of “Lil Boss’ products, featuring glam activewear that caters to little people (and average-sized people too).
7Dwarf Dad Rejects Ridicule
Peter Dinklage is practically a household name, especially after his role in Game of Thrones. He was quoted by Just Luxe as saying that he wouldn’t reduce himself to the level of playing an elf or leprechaun, and would rather go for serious roles than contain himself to being the punch line of every dwarf joke. Now that he’s a dad, Dinklage has even more reason to take himself seriously.
Daughter Zelig will look to her dad for guidance throughout her life, and he’s setting an example that will teach her self-respect and confidence. Plus, we can tell the two are already close, since he’s always photographed in public carting Zelig around and playing with her. This dad might be a little person, but he’s playing a big part in his daughter’s life.
6Little Parents Big Charlie
In 2010, TLC and Discovery Health began airing a show about the lives of Craig and Becky Hennon, both people with dwarfism, and their baby. While Craig and Becky both have dwarfism, their son Charlie is average-sized, leading to more parenting challenges than most parents are used to. The couple even hesitated to have Charlie tested, but it was both a relief and disappointment to find out he was average sized.
In early episodes of the show, Craig and Becky show the modified crib they use for Charlie, which slides open with a door on the side rather than a conventional crib- which the parents wouldn’t be able to get their baby out of. Plenty more escapades kept the show going through eight episodes, according to Wikipedia, but with TLC’s new rollout of other programs about dwarf families, the Hennons (and not-so-little Charlie) soon faded into obscurity.
5Mom With Dwarfism Told To Get A Surrogate
People reports that when Traci Harrison Tsou started planning her family, a doctor told her to get a surrogate because they didn’t believe she could carry a healthy baby to term. Tsou proved them wrong, though, and delivered her average-sized baby boy perfectly healthy and happy.
Tsou’s husband is also a little person, making the odds even higher that their son Jacob would wind up inheriting his parents’ genetic condition. This baby is a miracle in more than one way, both because doctors didn’t think he’d survive, and because genetics worked out in his favor. Sadly, many people with dwarfism deal with a lot of negative health effects, something that no parent wants for their baby. Luckily, Tsou and her husband have little Jacob as proof that doctors are sometimes wrong.
4Third Pregnancy For Little Women Star
Part of the Little Women: Atlanta crew, Tanya Scott shared stunning photos of her third pregnancy, a baby whose debut is being kept under wraps until the show’s next season airs. While we don’t know yet whether the new baby inherited mom’s dwarfism, Scott’s son does have dwarfism, while her daughter does not. The two toddlers are close in age, and Scott’s Instagram pics show their sweet sibling bond.
With three little ones so close together, Scott definitely has her hands full, and parenting one or more children with dwarfism would pose a whole host of unique challenges. At the same time, she also seems to have the support of her children’s father, although tabloids had them splitting up between the second and third pregnancies. Fingers crossed for the best outcome for Scott’s newest arrival.
3Chilean Mom Overcomes Fatal Situation
When Leslie Mardones of Chile fell pregnant with her second child, doctors urged her to have an abortion, Pravda Report explains. But Mardones was adamant that she would deliver this child, just as she did her first. But Mardones has Morquio syndrome, a rare condition that affects her bones. Mardones uses a wheelchair and is less than three feet tall, but that didn’t stop her from birthing two babies.
Mardones’ first child had to stay in the hospital for a month after she was born, weighing less than two pounds. Her second child, a son, arrived three months early and weighed a little over 2 pounds. But the mom of two now average-sized children said she was thrilled to beat the odds and survive to nurture both her healthy children.
2A Lost Son And One Daughter
Little Women: Dallas star Emily Fernandez is another reality TV mom with dwarfism who has a child that’s average sized. Tragically, Fernandez’ second child, whose dad is different from Ava’s, was born with his mom’s type of dwarfism. He had bleeding on his brain and experienced seizures while he was in the womb and after.
While we’re sure Fernandez was thrilled to give birth to her daughter without any complications, her second birth wasn’t so simple, even though son JJ was smaller due to his condition. After three months of suffering, In Touch Weekly reported, Fernandez and her partner decided to take their baby boy off life support and let him pass peacefully. The reality TV star was open with fans about her son’s passing, and commemorated him with a series of photos.
1Famous Family Shares Life As Little People
When TLC first picked up the Roloff family, their four young kids were dealing with daily life and picking on each other while they did it. Mom Amy and dad Matt are both little people, and of their four kids, one has the same condition as his parents. Twins Jeremy and Zach may have shared a womb, but they didn’t share the genetic predisposition to dwarfism.
Zach is a little person like his parents, while twin Jeremy and younger siblings Molly and Jacob are average-sized. Now that the twins are adults, and parents themselves, fans of the show were all aflutter over whether the guys’ children would be little people or not. As it turns out, Jeremy’s gene for dwarfism is recessive, making it highly unlikely that his child would have the condition. Zach carries the dominant gene, though, and his new son is a little person too.
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