This article originally appeared on VICE Germany.
Ihab Yassin stands a little over four feet. He is one of the 100,000 little people currently living in Germany, as estimated by the German Association for Little People. In the UK, the number of people with a restricted growth condition is strangely just 6,000.
The general definition of restricted growth—or dwarfism—is when an adult person's height is under 4 feet 10 inches, but that diagnosis can be caused by a number of medical conditions. In Yassin's case, it's achondroplasia—a genetic defect that caused his upper body to grow to a regular size, while his arms and legs are much shorter than average.
He calls himself "Little Parkour Hulk" because, for the last six years, he has been running and climbing on gates, stairs, bridges, roofs, and walls for fun. When Yassin's not doing parkour, he's studying for a computer-science teaching qualification or volunteering at a daycare center. He says children respond to his size in many different ways—some are anxious, others curious. Because children are basically drunks without any sense of shame, they're not afraid to ask him any question about his size that comes to their mind. We decided to follow their lead and ask him ten questions of our own.
VICE: Does it suck to be short?
Ihab Yassin: No, I don't think it's shit to have dwarfism at all—it's never bothered me. Of course, there are situations where I have to rely on other people's help, like in the supermarket if I can't reach certain stuff. But I don't find it embarrassing, so I have no problem asking for help. And I can unapologetically look at women's butts. That's pretty cool.
Has anyone ever accidentally farted in your face?
No. If that happened, I would hold my nose and quietly cross the street. No one has ever done it on purpose to me, either.
Do you date other little people?
To me, the most important thing when I date someone is that we have common interests. Looks do play a role in dating, and I look for women who have a positive attitude and who don't wear too much makeup. But I don't care if she has dwarfism or not.
Have you ever had a relationship with a tall woman?
No, I've never been in a committed relationship. But I'm also not the type for one-night stands. And anyway, most women—whether they are a little person or not—are into "normal" tall guys.
Does it hurt when women dump you because of your size?
Not so much—I've resigned myself to the fact that our society sees a certain kind of perfection as the norm.
Do you laugh at jokes about little people?
My friends make jokes about my size, and that's fine. I also like the German saying "Lügen haben kurze Beinen" ["lies have short legs"]. If someone rhetorically asks me if I'm disabled, I always say something like, "Yes, it says so on my disability card—do you want to see it?" I think it would be shit if strangers approached me just for being a dwarf, but that luckily never happens. Nevertheless, I like making fun of my size, too—I only dress as an elf at fancy dress parties.
How do you feel about the fact that things like "dwarf-tossing" are actual activities people can do at parties?
Fortunately, no one has ever asked if he can toss me or catch me. But, yeah, there are places that hire little people for their height, and I think that stuff should be banned.
Do you buy your clothes in children's departments?
No, because I don't need to. The clothing from the men's department usually fits me in size X or XS, and I wear shoes in sizes 38 or 39 [an 8 in the US]. So I generally buy my clothing at the same places as everyone else. My apartment looks quite normal, too. Wherever I can't reach, I just grab a stool.
Does it bother you when people think you're cute because you're not average sized?
Yes, people have called me sweet or cute in the middle of the street, and that really annoys me. Although whenever that happened—which hasn't been that often—the people saying it were usually drunk. It still bothers me, though. I want people to know me as a person and not reduce me to my size.
What would you do if you suddenly had an average height?
I'm small, so what? I can eat and drink and play football, go out and dance in clubs. I don't feel limited by my height, and wouldn't do anything differently if my height was "normal."