DENVER (CBS4)– Katie Haynes is not defined by her size.
“Personally, I like to be called Katie because that’s my name,” she said.
Yet she knows many people aren’t sure how to describe her stature.
“A lot of people think dwarf is unacceptable, but midget is acceptable whereas it’s the other way around,” she told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
Given the history of what she calls “the m-word,” Katie says it is a hurtful, humiliating and dehumanizing term.
“The m-word was used to describe people of short stature when they were in the circus and deemed as ‘freaks.’ Much as ‘The Bearded Lady’ and stuff like that,” she said. “We’re not freaks, we’re people.”
Katie said she was bullied nearly her entire life by people using the “m-word” to put her down. That’s why she is upset to see the Denver County Fair featuring an event called Extreme Midget Wrestling.
“I think it’s kind of irresponsible of the fair to hire people who use that term and to showcase it as midget wrestling and to advertise it as midget wrestling,” she said.
In a statement to CBS4, a spokesperson for the fair said they book specialty acts “without prejudice,” adding the wrestling group owns the naming rights to their event. Managers with the wrestling production declined an on-camera interview, but told CBS4 the wrestlers do not have a problem with the word and what they do is not meant to be demeaning.
“Honestly, for me, that’s their profession. That’s what they choose to do, which is awesome,” Katie said. “But it’s just the terminology that’s associated with it. I would be happy with anything else other than the m-word.”
Katie is not alone in her fight to erase the m-word. She is a lifetime member of the Little People of America, a nonprofit organization that provides support and information to people of short stature and their families. The group has long battled to stop people from using the derogatory slur.
“We’re people, but we’re little,” Katie said. “’Little person’ is more acceptable.”
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.