Real Voices interview: Nichola Dean

Read or watch an interview with Nichola, who has achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism

How does your condition affect your life?

I’ve got achondroplasia, which is a form of dwarfism or restricted growth. We’re quite happy with the term ‘dwarf’. I’m a lot shorter than average: 4 feet 2 inches. I’ve got the same life as everyone else, but I can’t reach everything. For example, I’ve just moved into a new home, and everything in the kitchen is too high. We need car-pedal extensions to drive. And cashpoints can be awkward. So there’s a practical impact. We have to adapt to the world, it’s not the other way round.

Nichola Dean

Nichola Dean

What situations do you find most difficult?

People staring, sometimes even pointing. Some people find it funny, I still get shocked by that. It’s partly the fault of the media, stereotyping dwarves. And partly people who aren’t happy with themselves, using playground tactics. That is getting better though, and there’s no point getting angry. For every one person doing it, there are 100 that aren’t.

How do you find people react to you now?

I’ve been to university, I work at the BBC. I never came across any discrimination in those worlds. As long as I can do the job, my height isn’t a problem. I can sense if someone wants to ask about it, and tend to mention it first.

How do you wish they would react?

I wish they wouldn’t react. I’d love there to be a time when my kids can go anywhere and no one reacts. Racism has moved on, no one falls silent and stares if they see an Asian or African person. I hope it’s the same with dwarfism in 20 years’ time.

Have you or would you consider treatment?

No, never. The leg straightening was due to pain. I disagree with leg lengthening. I’m happy with who I am, I’m pro-difference. We can’t all look like everyone else. People should be different.

Downloadable resources

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘How We Look’ in June 2008.

Physiology, Genetics and genomics, Health, infection and disease
How We Look
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development