Cyrus’ shenanigans demean little people

When Miley Cyrus appeared at the Europe Music Awards, people wondered what inappropriate behavior she would engage in this time. During an award acceptance, she lit up a joint. In focusing on that, people overlooked something else that I find much worse.

In her opening number, Cyrus interacted primarily with a latex-clad dwarf (the preferred term is “little person”), whom she treated more like a pet than a person. She led the woman around by the hand like a child. The dehumanization of a group of people based on a physical characteristic is disgusting. As a society we don’t tolerate ridicule based on skin color. So why tolerate mockery of people with a genetic condition?

Being a little person isn’t just about being short. There are many health problems that go along with the condition, including spinal cord compression, breathing problems, poor muscle tone, hydrocephalus, bowed legs and swayed backs. Little people have been mocked and discriminated against for centuries, relegated to circus freak shows and midget wrestling. Fortunately, it seems that lately we have become more socially conscious. But someone with the visibility of Cyrus can undo that forward momentum with her crass stupidity.

Perhaps the woman on stage wasn’t being victimized per se. Perhaps she felt empowered; perhaps she was well-paid; perhaps she’s Cyrus’ biggest fan and was thrilled to be there. That’s all beside the point. The inclusion of this spectacle endorsed the depersonalization of little people. Cyrus’ actions support the notion that little people are akin to children, akin to pets that need to be led around by the hand. Perhaps this individual wasn’t victimized, but the performance victimized little people in general. And no one even noticed.

Erin Maynard