Two Foot Tall Teen Review: Tiny Chancer
BODYSHOCK: TWO FOOT TALL TEEN, Thursday 11th June, Channel 4, 9.00pm Alert Me
It’s hard enough being a teenager these days, let alone imagine being a teenage girl who is fated never to grow bigger than a six month old baby.
This is Jyoti Amge’s reality. Her culture and upbringing have only served to exacerbate the situation, as she is trapped between a religious rock and a scientific hard place.
Jyoti’s condition has meant that she has never grown past her twenty three and a half inch stature, and at sixteen years old she only weighs nine pounds more than she did at birth. A recent injury, where Jyoti slipped on ice and fractured both her legs, has failed to heal and she needs an operation if she has any hope of ever walking unsupported again.
In my view Jyoti’s main problem is her parents. Perhaps I’m a cynic but after watching Growing Up Without A Face I’ve seen a mother put her child through pain, for her own good. Juliana’s parents were willing go to any lengths to ensure their child could have as normal a life as possible. In Jyoti’s case, religious and cultural influences play a huge factor in the decision to have surgery.
There is an overwhelming sense that Jyoti has been spoiled. In their best efforts to ensure their fragile child is protected, her family have gotten used to being at her beck and call. Carrying Jyoti’s things, helping her walk and so on. They have had to be protective over their child who almost died at birth. As a result, they find it especially difficult to see her go through any amount of pain, and refuse surgery after Jyoti find’s blood tests too painful.
I can’t help but think that if they just stopped fussing and let the doctors do their job, the little girl would have a much better chance at life than she does now. Yet, I am privileged to sit here with my Western preconceptions, staunch belief in the health system and have no experience of having my own children, so it’s easier said than done.
After Jyoti’s survival, against all odds, her family have come to see her as a gift from god – she has taken the form of a goddess and they must dote on her accordingly; even respected Sadhu’s – Hindu holy men – coo and fawn over Jyoti. Every sixteen year old girl is a princess, but to be told that you are a goddess must go to one’s head at times.
In the end, Jyoti refuses surgery in favour of a quick fix solution the doctors brand the product of “ignorance and naivety” – a trip to a healer who guarantees bone-fusion after three applications of ointment.
Unsurprisingly, Channel 4 don’t wait around to see if this works.
Read Sally’s review of Extraordinary People: Growing Up Without a Face for true heartbreaking relevance (or gaudy, medieval style gawping at some of nature’s crueller targets).