Little People Can Still Dream Big

In television and the movies, little people often have been portrayed as oddities, but now many little people are fighting back against those stereotypes.

While they may be plagued with health problems, many don't view their size a handicap and have used their diminutive stature to their advantage in a world that wasn't built for them.

For example, Terra Jole, who also is known as mini-Britney, has taken Las Vegas and the Internet by storm with her Britney Spears tribute act.

Donning the stage in costumes that mimic Spears' signature look, Jole belts out the pop stars hits and dance moves.

Her videos are among some of YouTube's most watched and her newfound celebrity has her hanging out with A-listers like Elton John and Lindsay Lohan.

Her stature has gotten her a lot of work as an entertainer, including working as an elf and a singer.

"When I went to L.A., they're like, 'Lie on your resume. The shorter you are, the more of a chance you'll have of getting the job.' And it's so true," Jole said.

While being little may draw some initial attention, Jole, who does her own singing and headlines a Las Vegas revue called Little Legends, hopes her talent is what will ignite her career.

Jole said she sees it as a steeping stone to her ultimate goal.

"Hopefully one day it's the Terra Jole-show instead of the mini-Britney show," Jole said. "But right now I'm still singing for a living and I'm doing what I love to do."

And while Jole is happy to cater to audiences interested in seeing little people performers, others may view the act as exploitive.

"Everyone has to make an individual choice of what is the right career path for them, but it is hard when people are choosing roles that are primarily perpetuating stereotypes," said Dr. Jennifer Arnold, also a little person.

Arnold doesn't take issue with performers like Jole specifically, but she does want little people to move away from old stereotypes because many people associate little people with things like circus acts.

Arnold opted for a different path.

After spending much of her young life in and out of surgeries, she decided she wanted to enter the medical profession. She saw no reason why her three-foot three-inch size should prevent it.

"For the most part, the stature was not that big of a deal," she said. "I was little and I had to make accommodations."

Now Arnold now works Stony Brook University Medical Center on Long Island, N.Y., and knowing her physical limitations, she decided to work with other small people – the littlest babies in the neo-natal unit.

Her colleagues have taken notice, not of her small stature, but of her big commitment to her duties.

"Within 10 to 15 seconds of meeting her you really her size really doesn't become a big issue," said Dr. Shetal Shah, an assistant Professor at Stony Brook University Medical Center. "It's more the brain and the intellect and everything that she is bringing to our care of children here. "

Both Arnold and Jole said they only want others to view little people in a respectable fashion.

"Really we're just like everyone else trying to find love and find success and find happiness," Arnold said. "The next time you see a little person just don't think of them as an oddity; just think of them as another person."

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