I've been asked by an overwhelming number of people this week if I'm offended by Lifetime's new reality series, Little Women: LA, a docu-series chronicling the adventures of a group of girlfriends who all happen to be little people. At a towering 3'10," I'm grateful that anyone values what I think about life as a little person. Last year, I too, was approached to be part of Little Women: LA, untitled at the time. I declined before I could get details on the show's concept because I was working with another production company that posed a conflict -- but, I digress... When asked the question, am I "offended" by Little Women: LA? Initially, my thought was, I've got bigger things on my mind, no pun intended. Then, I realized Little Women: LA may be worth addressing, after all, little people remain the objects of ridicule in most forms of entertainment.
I am not particularly offended by the new series Little Women: LA, but I am offended by the portrayal of women on a good number of reality shows, in spite of their height or physical abilities. In fact, I find it more offensive to presume the cast of Little Women: LA are being exploited any more than any other person vying for the reality spotlight. To suggest the cast of Little Women: LA is being victimized by reality TV is to suggest these women are not capable of making their own decisions. Little people are often patronized or dismissed; it's dehumanizing.
I do not personally know the cast of Little Women: LA, but there's no doubt in my mind that they are free-thinking women who made the conscious decision to participate in a reality series. No consenting adult has ever been tricked or enslaved into reality TV, these gals are just giggin'! Someone posted on my Facebook page that they would not be watching or supporting Little Women: LA because of its 'sideshow' quality. As much as I appreciate the poster's solidarity with the dignified treatment of little people, isn't all reality TV kind of a sideshow? Why not boycott all reality that parades women in a negative light, like the Real Housewives franchise that at times makes me feel horrified for womanhood.
There was a time when little people in early circus sideshows were victims willing to exploit their afflictions to make a living; I don't believe that's the case with Little Women: LA. Perceptions of little people remain in the Dark Ages, but I maintain that on some level, reality TV may actually serve as an equalizer when viewers see that little people can be just as boring, catty or as wonderful as anyone else. The women of Little Women: LA have the right to work in whatever entertainment medium they choose, and most importantly, make their own decisions. When was the last time you saw a little person in a commercial that was not playing the faceless role of "midget-in-a-costume," but just an average person endorsing a product? Things are progressing but work opportunities are very limited for little people in entertainment. Why is a little person's pursuit of starry-eyed ambitions less valid than any other reality personality?
Little Women: LA premieres Monday, June 2, at 10/9c on Lifetime. I'm not sure I'll be watching but I will certainly be supporting any little woman's right to do what she chooses with her life and image, regardless of my personal point of view.