Commentary

Another Point of View

Unless you are one of the very rare people who for whatever reason never reached it, you were once four feet tall.
Unless you are one of the very rare people who for whatever reason never reached it, you were once four feet tall. Yeah, you. I’m guessing you were about eight or so, and I’m sure you remember. Remember bank and airline counters being over your heads? And you just couldn’t wait until you were tall enough and old enough to drive! Part of growing up was getting taller and taller as time went on. Obviously, now you know that’s not a universal fact, but I have run into the occasional person who is surprised that I, at four feet two and one-quarter inches (yes, I still count the quarter when I’m feeling silly), drive a car. I use hand controls personally, though a lot of people use pedal extensions to accomplish the same thing.

So it was pretty cool when I heard that a little person (hereafter abbreviated LP) was going to be on the Race. I figured that of all the reality shows out there, this one was the likeliest to treat her with respect from the get-go, which was mostly true. (The chocolate factory challenge was fine in and of itself, if it weren’t for the obvious reference to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. That one left me with decidedly mixed feelings once I heard that the reference was not an accident.) Charla had to be up to the physical tasks or she wouldn’t have applied, and her main problem actually racing would probably be a distinct lack of speed on foot. That turned out to be true, though I don’t think it ever really hurt the team. It would not be hard for most people to beat Charla in a footrace. I also assumed her biggest obstacle in this whole thing would be dealing with other people’s attitudes, since I knew that a lot of people, specifically other racers (in general, that is, I am not implying anything about your most/least favored racers), have probably had very little exposure, if any, to LPs outside of the media. The media is, to say the least, often unfriendly toward us, so you get a distorted picture of people who are, in the end, like anybody else. After all, Charla’s successful in business and married. You don’t often see that in the media unless it’s on a Very Special episode of something that’s All About Little People or something. (Ick!)
I am willing to believe that Charla was certainly thinking, “This will show them,” but that she also just wanted that million bucks.
I know Charla came across as a bit preachy in interviews about how she can do anything anybody else can do, and I saw a lot of accusations of hypocrisy online concerning what she’d said vs. her asking for and accepting extra help. The preachiness, I’m sure, was at the network’s “suggestion.” I bet they make sure that whatever else a racer says in interviews, they also say whatever the network wants to hear; combined with careful editing, ta-da! You get Preachy Charla. I am willing to believe that Charla was certainly thinking, “This will show them,” but that she also just wanted that million bucks. I mean, who wouldn’t? As for hypocrisy, well, I guess I can see where those complaints were coming from, but I have to strongly disagree. Sure she can do things like anybody else. Sure Charla was more than willing to ask and accept help from people on the Race. I don’t think that’s any worse than pretty young women using their looks to get extra help. It’s a race! If you can get ahead without actually breaking any rules, then go for it! Besides, sometimes the best way to accomplish something is to ask for help; occasionally there are things you just have to get a hand with to get done at all. It’s not a matter of wussing out so much as conserving your time and energy. I bet in everyday life she turns down as many offers as she accepts, and doesn’t go asking for help unless it’s a genuine need. I’ve turned down many offers to get things off of high shelves, or whatever, when I didn’t want or need what was there. More often, I have to go find somebody to reach high stuff that I do need.

As for the conspiracy theories...well, obviously that was BS, or their last leg would have been changed to non-elimination when production realized they were last. First, this is a game show, and game shows are very very tightly regulated. Second, were I in the Race, I wouldn’t want any accommodations made for me beyond what everybody else gets (such as smaller hockey equipment that actually fits, or cold weather gear, or whatever – a matter of sizing, not special help). I wouldn’t try out for it because I’m not physically up for it, and the only way I could compete would be with extra help. No way. Charla was much better equipped for it than I am. I find it very insulting that first people were saying, “She can’t do this!” and then when she got out there and did it saying, “She still couldn’t have! She must have had help!” I mean, she raced quite well. She did have Mirna’s assistance. She got to the halfway mark.
And now we get to the subject of Mirna.
And now we get to the subject of Mirna. While she certainly does have a dramatic streak a mile wide, I think a lot of her behavior toward Charla on the Race came out of both a sense of protection and some long-running frustration. (I am not talking about the “Come on, Charla!” stuff; I think that’s more encouragement than anything, even if it sounded a bit obnoxious.) And if Mirna being overprotective got them both ahead in the Race, I’d be willing to bet that Charla just shut her yap and went along with it. In real life I’m sure she’d tell Mirna to back off if she wanted or needed to. But this was not a normal situation! I know that some of the rudeness I’ve encountered really upsets my family, sometimes more than it does me. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to actually ignore the starers, but I’ve gotten pretty good at acting like I’m ignoring them, while thinking things like, “My boyfriend thinks I’m really hot, so who cares what this idiot thinks?” Mirna, I’m sure, is sick and tired of people thinking Charla is something strange or different on sight, and doesn’t want her upset by them. This can easily translate into overprotectiveness.

All of this being said, I enjoyed Charla and Mirna as racers, and it’s a shame they were eliminated, Charla’s dwarfism notwithstanding. I particularly appreciate that they showed Charla, warts and all. (The Very Special Episodes notwithstanding, we’re just people. Really short people. Consider the non-angelicness of her making faces at other racers.) And I’m glad they cast her in particular. Who knew that by the time they were eliminated, the dwarf on the team would be viewed as the normal one of the two? Not me, that’s for sure. In the end, I think I especially appreciate that. My apologies to Mirna.

(For tons of general information on dwarfism, see www.lpaonline.org. For information on SMD, my particular type (very different than Charla’s), plus a couple of related ones, see www.ksginfo.org.)