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Midget

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Title: Midget  
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Midget

Singer's Midgets toured the US from 1910-1935 and were "enormously successful".[1]

Midget (from midge, a sand fly[2]) is a term for a person of unusually short stature that is widely considered pejorative.[3][4][5] [6] While not a medical term, it has been applied to persons of unusually short stature, often with the medical condition dwarfism,[7] particularly proportionate dwarfism.[8][9]

It may also refer to anything of much smaller than normal size, as a synonym for "miniature,"[10] such as a midget cell, a midget crabapple, MG's Midget, Daihatsu's Midget, and the Midget Mustang airplane; or to anything that regularly uses anything that is smaller than normal (other than a person), such as midget car racing and quarter midget racing; or a smaller version of play or participation, such as midget golf; or to anything designed for very young (i.e., small) participants - in many cases children - such as Disneyland's Midget Autopia, Midget AA hockey, and Midget football.[11]

History

Charles Sherwood Stratton as "General Tom Thumb," circa 1861

Merriam-Webster dictionary states that the first use of the term "midget" was in 1816.[8]

Dwarfs and midgets have always been popular entertainers, but were often regarded with disgust and revulsion in society. In the early 19th century however, little people were romanticized by the middle class and regarded with the same affectionate condescension extended to children, as creatures of innocence.[12] The term "midget" came into prominence in the mid-19th century after Harriet Beecher Stowe used it in her novels Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands and Old Town Folks where she described children and an extremely short man, respectively.[13] P. T. Barnum indirectly helped popularize the term "midget" when he began featuring General Tom Thumb, Lavinia Warren and Commodore Nutt in his circus.[14] "Midget" became linked to referencing short people put on public display for curiosity and sport.[13] Barnum's midgets, however, were elevated to a position of high society, given fantasy military titles, introduced to dignitaries and royalty, and showered with gifts.[15][16]

Such performances continued to be widespread through the mid part of the twentieth century, with Hermines Midgets brought from their performances in Paris to appear at the 1939 New York World's Fair,[17] the same year that MGM released The Wizard of Oz, which featured 124 midgets in its cast, most of which were from the Singer's Midgets troupe.[18][19]

When interviewed for a 1999 piece, performers engaged in ongoing "Midget Wrestling" events stated that they did not view the term "Midget Wrestling" as derogatory, but merely descriptive of their small size;[1] however, others responding to the piece disagreed, with one stating that the performances themselves perpetuated an outdated and demeaning image.[1]

As of the 21st century, the word became considered by some as a pejorative term when in reference to people with dwarfism.[13][1][7][20]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Adelson, Betty M. (2005). The Lives Of Dwarfs: Their Journey From Public Curiosity Toward Social Liberation. Rutgers University Press. pp. 295–.  
  2. ^  
  3. ^ Miller, P. S. (1987). Coming up short: Employment discrimination against little people. Harv. CR-CLL Rev.
  4. ^ Adelson, B. M. (2011). Dwarfism: Medical and psychosocial aspects of profound short stature. JHU Press.
  5. ^ Gentry, R., & Wiggins, R. (2010). Individuals with Disabilities Are People, First--Intervene and They Will Learn.
  6. ^ Webster's II New Collegiate Dictionary (2nd expanded ed.). Boston & New York:   Entry for midget: "1. An extremely small person who is otherwise normally proportioned."
  7. ^ a b Shapiro, Arthur H. (2000-09-01). Everybody Belongs: Changing Negative Attitudes Toward Classmates With Disabilities. Psychology Press. pp. 284–.  
  8. ^ a b sometimes offensive : a very small person; specifically : a person of unusually small size who is physically well-proportioned.: midget Entry for Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  9. ^ Kennedy, Dan (2005-05-23). "What is Dwarfism?". American Documentary. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  10. ^ The World Book Dictionary. World Book .com. 2003. pp. 1315–.  
  11. ^ Driver, Bruce; Wharton, Clare (2004-10-20). The Baffled Parent's Guide to Coaching Youth Hockey. McGraw Hill Professional. pp. 15–.  
  12. ^ Ashby, pp. 50–51.
  13. ^ a b c Kennedy, Dan. "P.O.V. - Big Enough. What is Dwarfism?". Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  14. ^ Thomson, Rosemarie Garland (1996). Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body. NYU Press. pp. 191–.  
  15. ^ , December 2005.Jack & Beverly's Images of Special SubjectsEntry for: Charles Sherwood Stratton (AKA General Tom Thumb) and His Circle.
  16. ^ 1863 pamphlet, Press of Wynkoop & Hallenbeck, New York (Robert Bogdan Collection) The Disability History Museum."Sketch Of The Life, Personal Appearance, Character And Manners Of Charles S. Stratton, The Man In Miniature, Known As General Tom Thumb, And His Wife, Lavinia Warren Stratton; Including The History Of Their Courtship And Marriage, With Some Account Of Remarkable Dwarfs, Giants, & Other Human Phenomena, Of Ancient And Modern Times, And Songs Given At Their Public Levees"Exhibit:
  17. ^ Cullen, Frank (2004). Vaudeville Old & New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America. Psychology Press. pp. 507–.  
  18. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (2013). The Making of the Wizard of Oz (75th Anniversary Updated ed.). Chicago:  
  19. ^ Page 193The Making of the Wizard of OzGoogleBooks Image for
  20. ^ Ross, Susan Dente; Lester, Paul Martin (2011-04-19). Images That Injure: Pictorial Stereotypes in the Media. ABC-CLIO. pp. 285–.  
  • . University of Kentucky Press.With Amusement for All: a history of American popular culture since 1830Ashby, LeRoy. 2006.
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