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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK
'To find love, I had to learn to like my height'
At 28, Caroline Miller is looking for love, having never had a proper boyfriend. Nor has she met another dwarf, scared that seeing a "mirror image" will knock her fragile confidence. Here, she tells of finally meeting other "little people".

At home in Jersey in the Channel Islands, I'm the only resident dwarf as far as I know.

Until I went to the Dwarf Athletic Association Games in Birmingham last May, I'd never met anyone else like me. I went to compete in the hockey and badminton, but also to finally meet other people of restricted growth.

It was a nerve-racking and emotional time for me - arriving at the games to suddenly be faced with the reality of meeting my mirror image - but it wasn't how I imagined it to be when I came face to face with people with my condition.

The moment I stepped into the hotel was that feeling like when I've been away and arrive back home. By the end of the games, I didn't want to leave as I was having such a wicked time.

After years of being the only one, it was quite a shock to find myself among people who looked like me. It was weird to meet people who didn't stare at me but accepted me for who I am.

But in the end, it was like finding another family; the people I met will be a part of my life from now on.

Down with love

For years I probably did think I was unattractive and that men wouldn't fancy me. That used to make me suspicious when men chatted me up - I suppose I thought they were just doing it for a laugh, or out of curiosity. Until I went to the games, I couldn't imagine I would ever find someone who would want to be with me for me, for who I am.

Caroline Miller
Caroline says she has "blossomed"
I used to feel quite self-conscious in the street, but now people look at me because they recognise me from adverts on the telly [her story is told in a BBC documentary, details below]; not because they think I'm 'abnormal', as I used to assume.

After the Birmingham games, I'd really begun to believe that men just might, after all, find me attractive. So last July I went to Boston for the Little People of America conference.

I met someone special on my last night there, and we've stayed in touch ever since. This month I'm off to spend one night with him in New York; yeah, I know it's a long way to go for a weekend, and I'm not even travelling by Concorde. My friends think I'm mad, but you do these things for love. And besides, life is so short - why wait?

New woman

It took me 28 years to come to terms with my condition; it was only watching a documentary about teenage dwarves last year that spurred me to seek help. Now I feel that my inner self has blossomed; I've got more self-confidence and I like myself as I am.

Birmingham games [photo by Dwarf Athletics Association]
The games were a life-changing experience
It has truly been a life-changing experience and I have so many people to thank for that - especially Penny Dean, of the UK's Restricted Growth Association, who I now think of as my 'Mainland Mum'.

I just hope my experiences show anyone else out there that they are not alone. All it took for me was a telephone call to the association, and I found that there was nothing to be scared of.

One Life: Size Doesn't Matter is broadcast in the UK on BBC One on Wednesday, 1 October at 2235 BST.

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