True story: I'm tiny

This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/amazing/challenging things. This is the story of Kelly, who is 4’11’ and 85 pounds.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m was born and raised in Los Angeles, but now reside in sunny San Diego. I’ve always loved science, so I earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and worked in cancer research for almost seven years.

As I started to make money in my career, one of the main things I wanted to improve upon was my wardrobe. I had acquired a love for clothing, fabrics, tailoring, and the idea that clothing can make you feel beautiful and confident. As I shopped for my dream wardrobe, I was hit with the harsh reality that nothing was made for someone my size, and I had to search for solutions to be able to dress the way I wanted to.

I started to blog about my adventures in shopping for petite clothing, and soon a small community of women grew around my blog. I fell in love with the community and my ability to help other women build their own wardrobes. Now, at 28, I’ve quit my job in the biotech industry and am currently starting a career in online media.

How small are you? Is your family petite as well?

As a full grown adult, I’m about the size of an average 12 year old. I’m 4’11” tall, weight about 85 pounds, and have a very small frame. I wear between a size US4.5-5 (EU 34.5-35) shoe, and find that even size 00 clothing is too large and ill-proportioned for my size. My mom is 4’10”, so I’m very happy to say I beat her by one whole inch! My maternal grandfather was short, as was my maternal great-grandmother.

Growing up, were you smaller than your friends?

I was always the shortest in my class, and luckily, I was generally well liked growing up, so I didn’t get teased too much for my size. Aside from being picked up a lot, it never really bothered me, and I rather liked being unique. I don’t think I ever realized just how small I really am until I met a similar-sized girl in college. I remember thinking, “oh my, she’s sooo tiny!”, and then the shock from learning I was actually a whole inch shorter than she was! It was an eye-opening realization to see how I must look to other people.

People must comment on your size all the time. What are some of the things you hear most? How do you feel when people make these comments?

Oh boy, I’ve heard it all. I’m a bit of an oddity, so people ask to pick me up all the time and are fascinated with how much I weigh. I find humor in my short stature, so I have no problem indulging people in the nitty gritty of my stats or allowing them to lift me up. I also get asked quite often if I’m legally a Little Person or dwarf. And the answer is, no, I’m not. I’m just short.

How does your size affect your daily life?

It does in a lot of ways actually…a lot of which I’m only realizing as I get older. My posture is affected as chairs, couches, car seats, and restaurant booths are not made for someone with my short thigh measurement, so I often find myself slouching to sit comfortably. I’m very independent, so it’s difficult for me to admit that I need so much help lifting and reaching things. I just got a puppy, and it’s frustrating to me that I’m afraid to take him to dog parks by myself because I can’t protect from him from larger, aggressive dogs the way an average sized person could.

I also have to take great care with the way I dress because I easily pass for a much younger person in youthful styles strictly because of my size. It may sound great to some people, but imagine being treated condescendingly at work because a co-worker thinks you’re “just a kid” when you have almost as much experience as they do. It’s really frustrating.

Where do you find your clothes?

There are only a handful of brands that make modern, stylish clothes in petite sizes. I need petite sizes for their shorter proportions (like higher bust, waist, and arm holes), so I’m pretty much stuck with the same three brands, those being Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor LOFT, and Banana Republic. I shop a few other brands that run small, but those three make up the bulk of my wardrobe. I shop their smallest petite sizes, which are only available online, and then often have to get those tailored down to fit properly. It kills my wallet!

Are there benefits to being so petite? Drawbacks?

Being so petite makes me unique, which I really like. Everyone remembers me, and I tend to stand out in a crowd. If I wasn’t so tiny, I think I’d be a very boring person. However, being so tiny makes me a bit vulnerable. One time, a complete stranger came up from behind me and picked me up off the street. He meant no harm, but it really scared me, and made me realize how easily I could be walked off with if I’m not careful.

What advice would you give to other small ladies?

Learning about good fit and tailoring was life changing. Clothing has made such a huge difference in my life, and I’m able to walk into a room like I’m 6 feet tall when I feel like I look good. Putting the extra effort into shopping, proper fit and tailoring does amazing things, both professionally and personally.

Any questions for Kelly? Are any of your particularly small?

P.S. The other side of the coin: True Story: I’m 4 inches taller than my husband

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