Midget (from midge, a sand fly) is a term that is widely considered pejorative for a person of unusually short stature, often one with the medical condition dwarfism, particularly proportionate dwarfism.
Merriam-Webster dictionary states that the first use of the term "midget" was in 1816. 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. P. T. Barnum indirectly helped popularize the term "midget" when he began featuring General Tom Thumb in his circus. "Midget" became linked to referencing short people put on public display for curiosity and sport.
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. 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small size; however, others responding to the piece disagreed, with one stating that the performances perpetuated an outdated and demeaning image.
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- Merriam-Webster Dictionary Entry for midget: sometimes offensive : a very small person; specifically : a person of unusually small size who is physically well-proportioned.
- Kennedy, Dan (2005-05-23). "What is Dwarfism?". American Documentary. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
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