It seems like the discussion surrounding the Miley Cyrus phenomenon and her use of little people at the VMAs has involved (mostly white) women of average height. While that’s valid and can be helpful, I can’t help but wonder why we’re not hearing from little people. An average sized person cannot pretend to understand cultural prejudices and representations of little people without at least consulting an informed source for whom this issue is personal.
Hollis Jane is an actress who also happens to be a little person. For years, she has suffered from discrimination based on her height; she explains that she is “presented with maybe 2% of the ‘real’ auditions that my average height actress friends are presented with.”
Finally, Jane was offered a job as one of Miley Cyrus’s backup dancers at the VMAs, and she took it. As a professional actress, she found the performance degrading: “I was being stared and laughed at for all of the wrong reasons. I was being looked at as a prop…as something less than human,” she writes on her blog. She left rehearsals crying, feeling “ashamed of being a little person [because she was] being used simply because [she was] little.” She felt like the show presented her with the sense of mockery and ridicule that so often follows little people in the media.
Jane’s role in the VMA performance has convinced her that in general, “getting a job purely because you’re a little person [...] is not a good thing.” But she is pragmatic and eloquent in her admission that these are “[her] opinions and [hers] alone.” She leaves room for others who might feel empowered by performing at events like the VMAs, and she doesn’t cast blame on Miley or anyone else.
Whatever your opinion, Jane has opened the door for wider discussions on the media’s portrayals of little people, and she should be applauded for that.
Thanks to Holliseum