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The "M" Word

Did you know that the word "MIDGET" is offensive to the dwarfism community?!?! Well.. if your answer was NO then let me tell you why. If your answer was YES... let me remind you why.

The M word is offensive because it comes from the days of sideshow/freakshows and the circus era where people with dwarfism had no other option of employment outside of the circus. People with dwarfism were objectified and exploited --- AND CONTINUE TO BE TODAY. (We'll get to that at a later point)

History of the word: While these days, the word midget is employed all too frequently mostly as an epithet to taunt short-statured individuals, that was not always the case. Part of the problem in attempting to discourage the use of the word midget currently is that it was once used both routinely and comfortably in the entertainment world. In fact, the organization now called Little People of America was previously called “Midgets of America” during the first two days of existence after actor Billy Barty and a group of approximately twenty short-statured performers founded the organization in 1957. The name was changed in 1960.

Midget is a term that was originally coined in 1865, referring to an extremely short person with limbs similarly proportioned to his body as an average-size person's. The word is thought to be first seen in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Old Town Folks: “Now you know Parson Kendall’s a little midget of a man.” The origin of the word midget formed from the word midge "small fly" + -et, so that a midget is etymologically a "very small fly". P.T. Barnum indirectly helped popularize "midget" when he began featuring General Tom Thumb (person of short stature) in his circus. By 1884 it referred to an extremely small person who was publicly exhibited as a curiosity in freak shows or circuses. By 1930 we find the word being used for small vehicles or aircraft.

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