In my opinion, people with disabilities are the world’s best stupidity magnets. I base this on a simple question I posed last year, to about a dozen Facebook groups related to dwarfism and disabilities. The question was “What are the stupidest things people have said to you?”
I was FLOODED by responses that simply stunned me by the level of ignorance, and/or sheer meanness behind the comments and questions the able-bodied throw our way.
As I read these stories, I had to keep reminding myself that intelligence varies widely from individual to individual, and no one has their IQ stamped on their forehead. Still, it is difficult not to get sarcastic or mean right back at some of the really stupid things that have been said to those of us who have a disability.
What stuns and upsets me the most is, the people saying these stupid things often believe they are sitting on some sort of higher moral ground, are claiming to be “just curious”, or trying to offer “kind advice”. No, they are simply being stupid, and often cruel.
What follows are those moments that make all of us want to say “WTF? Did you just say THAT?”. (My own imagined and sarcastic responses to these silly people are italicized, indented, and labeled “Frank: “)
Mary: I’m a paraplegic and my “favorite” comment is, “If I was in a wheelchair then I would kill myself!” My response to that is “Why wait?”
Mark: I got a sister with a shorter leg, she finds it very difficult to walk, so people keep telling her not to do this or that or she may fall and get hurt…and she HATES it…and they also say “you got such a pretty face…”, like saying “in contrast with your ugly body”…and she hates those “compliments”.
Frank: “And you shouldn’t say things like that, or YOU might get hurt!”
John: “Have they thought about growth hormone?” No, our doctors who are the best skeletal dysplasia specialists in the world for children NEVER THOUGHT TO TRY GROWTH HORMONE!
Frank: “Have you ever thought of MINDING YOUR OWN BUSINESS!” or, “No, but they did suggest THE RACK!”
Liz: Hands down my favorite one ever was: “Well, he will always be able to find work during the holidays – Santa needs an elf!”
Clara: Sister Ferdinand in First Grade, ‘You know life is going to be very very hard for you but when you die you get to go see Jesus’……yes that was very helpful Sister….
Martha: “O she’s so cute! You should put her on TV.”
Frank: “What? How am I supposed to balance my kid on top of our super thin LCD television?”
Donald: I mess with people too. One guy (he was nice enough and genuinely interested) asked why our son was wearing a neck brace. I answered “He got in a bar fight. You should see the other kid.”
June: I honestly can’t say the most offensive because it’s truly horrible. I can tell you it was regarding men and waist height.
Ralph: How long is he going to live I was like well we don’t know how long we’re are going live for it’s all up to God.
Frank: “How long is he going to live? Longer than YOU, especially if you keep asking stupid questions like that!”
Jason: On a lighter note, one of my cousin’s kids, after we found out Brody would have dwarfism asked “Are there any people who have elfism?” I found it funny.
Karla: “Hmm what will he do when he grows up? He could be an actor on television!” As though that was his only option.
Frank: “There’s this bar in our neighborhood, and they do this dwarf tossing thing every Friday night.” Then you snap a picture of their reaction, and post it here. (Pardon my dark sense of humor, I’m a dwarf, and have these fantasies of freaking people out whenever they say something REALLY silly).
Bonnie: My son Tavish, who was born with dwarfism, is a waiter in a restaurant at a ski resort. He is FREQUENTLY asked if he is the actor Peter Dinklage. Actually the usual question is, “Aren’t you that guy from Game of Thrones?” Tavish’s response is to whisper, “Shhhh! No one can know. I am researching for a role.”
Mike: “Are you sure she won’t grow out of it?”
Stephanie: When I was in my chair at the grocery store, some creepy dude asked me if he could feed me a sample of guacamole since it was up high! I said, nope, but you can get away from me now!
Armen: “Can you leave your bed?” No the giant wheels on the side of my ass don’t go anywhere. “Can you have sex?” Not with YOU!
Kate: I tell those rude people that ask bedroom questions that if the belly buttons line up everything else goes into place(with a straight face) till they walk away then me and hubby crackup.
Paul: ‘I’m going pray for god to fix, dear’.
Charlotte: People point at my child often. The most recent lady said “A real life little midget!”
Frank: “Look, a real life a-hole”.
Samantha: I received a private message once which started like this (roughly translated) “Oh my god! A dwarf? Eww…I pity your baby. He must be god’s punishment for your mistakes and sins.”
Darla: When I took my LP grandson places I had people tell me the following: “What the hell is that supposed to be?”
Darla: Also, “Oh! A dwarf! They’re so popular right now, I want one!” When a child commented, we always took time to explain to them why he was small. Never miss an opportunity to educate children. Sometimes the adults aren’t worth your time.
Frank: “Oh yes, aren’t dwarfs ADORABLE? We’re starting a collection, and we’ll call them Sleepy, Dopey, Happy, Doc…..”
Michelle: My son has Primordial dwarfism and we get a few comments most days – best one yet though, a woman turned round in a shop and exclaimed “Oh! Is it real?”
Frank: “Are YOU for real? Apologize this instant or I will wash your mouth out with soap!”
Rose: I actually had a nurse ask me why I had another child when I told her my son was born with dwarfism and that they were testing my daughter for autism. I honestly was so shocked, and kind of hurt.
Maria: I was pushing my grandson in a cart at the market, when this elderly woman starting talking with him. She asked me how old he was and I told her he was year and a half. She said that he can’t be, he is too small. I told her he was born with dwarfism. She just stared at him and then finally said I never saw a baby one. I always wondered what they look like as a baby. I started to walk away, but she grabbed hold of my basket and said please don’t go. My husband will get a kick out of this. My daughter came around the corner just in time to pull me away.
Frank: “Lady, you will get a kick in the shins if you don’t apologize this instant!”
Lola: I have a twin son that was born with no left hand & I had a coworker (a supervisor too) ask me if he was right handed!!! Wtf – like he has a choice!!
Frank: “No, he’s left stumped you genius!”
Harvey: Another thing that irks me is “How do you drive?” and “Are your parents short like you”?
Frank: “Are your parents stupid like you?”
Denise: People have asked me “Are your parents normal?”
Frank: “I AM normal, what’s wrong with YOU?”
Martin: As a wheelchair-user, I get the same type of comments. When I come back with sarcasm (“How long you been in the chair?” “About an hour. Before that, I was on my bed getting dressed.” “Were you born in a wheelchair?” “Yeah. Poor Mom was in labor for a week. It was like trying to squeeze a football through a straw.”), I’d be accused of being “angry” and having “a chip on my shoulder.”
Paula: I am blind, and some of the things people have said we’re just outrageous. I have been asked everything from how do you walk, All the way to how do you pour a glass of water by yourself without spilling it?
I do my best to educate folks, but sometimes it is hard to refrain from slapping some of these idiots. Both of those questions were posed conveniently when I was doing the action in question. Some of the other questions I have been asked include, but are not limited to: how do you dress yourself? Do you want me to come in the bathroom stall with you to help? How can you be blind if you can open your eyes? Do blind people have sex? That one was asked by a guy that shortly after inquired whether or not I would go on a date with him.
I have also been told that if I believed in God I wouldn’t be blind, and all I need to do for a cure is to pray harder.
Closing note from Frank: If I slapped people for every stupid thing they’ve said about my disability, I’d have one more disability in my hand.