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A UNIVERSITY lecturer with dwarfism has revealed how she was picked up and moved by a man trying to get to a bar as she opened up about the abuse and ridicule she has faced throughout her life. Dr Erin Pritchard from Bangor has been asked to dress up as Hello Kitty to amuse a child, and gets people taking photographs of her all of the time.

The 33-year-old comes across ignorant people every day but refuses to be made to feel inferior.

Erin, a lecturer in Disability and Education at Liverpool Hope University, said: "I was in a nightclub once and a man was trying to get past me. He just picked me up and put me down a few feet away. I did kick out, but you just feel powerless.

Get Wales "A toddler was staring at me in a clothes shop. I said 'Hello' and walked away. Then, a little later, I heard a woman shouting 'Here she is!' It was the toddler's mum. She placed her daughter in front of me so she could carry on staring. Why would a grown woman encourage that? "I have had plenty of parents egging their children on to point and laugh at me. I asked one parent what was so funny - he said 'You!' I do say things back, but I won't repeat them.

"I was in New York and a teenage girl, who was part of a group of teenagers, tried to get a photo of me as I walked past her. My friend stopped her by putting her hand in front of her phone. She then walked back to her gang and they all started shouting, 'Come here midget. I want a photo of you midget'. And then one demanded that I perform a sex act on him. It was really threatening and I felt vulnerable.

"People try to take photographs all the time. I was standing by some traffic lights when a motorist stopped by the crossing. His passenger rolled down his window and pointed his phone at me to get a picture. They then drove off laughing. "A woman once asked me to dress up as the cartoon character 'Hello Kitty' for her daughter's birthday party - telling me 'She finds people like you hilarious.'" ."

Erin, who stands at 4ft tall, has disproportionate dwarfism, which is characterised by short limbs and an average-sized torso. It also presents mobility difficulties and back problems. In cases of proportionate dwarfism, both the limbs and torso are unusually small.

She said: "My message to people would be that dwarfism is just another disability. You wouldn't hire out a wheelchair user or a visually impaired person on a stag night to laugh at them, so why are people still doing this sort of thing for dwarfism? the latest North news at "Do you really think it is acceptable to see someone as a form of entertainment, just because of their disability? If you want to think dwarf entertainment is fine, the next time you are walking in the street think about whether you would like it if someone was constantly putting a camera in your face and ridiculing you."

Social media has merely added to the amount of abuse people with dwarfism face, with many people feeling free to make hurtful and humiliating comments online. "I have reported the use of the term midget to Facebook several times - as have other people with dwarfism and groups on Facebook for people with the condition. We all get the same message back, that it does not contravene their community standards," added Erin.

"The lack of progress is really frustrating. And if you don't laugh when someone says something on Facebook or when they shout at you in the street, then you are told you have a chip on your shoulder or called a snowflake. I just want people with dwarfism - or any other disability - to be treated with respect."
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Feb 6, 2019
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