Anele X on changing misconceptions about people living with dwarfism – ‘We are normal people’

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Anele X wishes for people to treat people living with dwarfism with respect and dignity.
Anele X wishes for people to treat people living with dwarfism with respect and dignity.

She is sassy, confident and stars in the Moja Love reality show, Giants Of The City. The show addresses issues faced by people living with dwarfism as they navigate daily living and deal with being discriminated.

Anele Xaba (33) really is the dynamite that comes in small packages. When she walks into the room, she commands attention, and she knows it. 

“I am very sure of myself and who I am,” she tells Drum.

Anele had an idea of creating a show about people living with dwarfism seven years ago, but it was until she was approached by Moja Love to join the cast of Giants Of The City that her dream came true.

“People told us that the show would be dry and not good enough. But I believed in it so much and I was eager to join."

After working as a producer and director at Urban Brew Studios for many years, in 2018, Anele was retrenched from her job.

“Retrenchment was one of the worst experiences ever. I tried to freelance but it was not working out, and I had no means of making a living and I became incredibly frustrated.”

But luck was on her side and she bagged the show on Moja Love.

“It was such an emotional surprise for me. It meant I was given the responsibility to teach people and my dream can finally come true.”

The show features other adults living with dwarfism, Phinel “DJ Finzo” Sefatsa, Hloniphile “Hloni” Dlamini, and their partners and they all take viewers into their day to day lives.

“There are too many misconceptions about short people,” Anele says.

“We are constantly underestimated. People think we are dumb, we can’t cook, we don’t have a life, we can’t go shopping, we can’t clean, and we are disabled,” she says. 

“When they see us, they see helpless children who can’t have solid careers and we need to live off the government disability grant, and that is not true. We are normal people.”

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Anele says the show has helped to break the stereotypes surrounding dwarfism.

“I’m an adult, a grown woman. I’m just short. I am pretty normal, and my brains functions like any 30-something-year-old,” she says.

On the show, Anele opens up about her relationship with her partner of two years.

“My partner is handsome and he does not date me out of pity or because he is using me. We genuinely love each other,” she says.

Dating has not always been easy for Anele. 

“Back in the day it was a huge challenge, but then through the years, I have learned that to love myself more and to be true to who I am. Being confident makes me attractive. I needed to learn to take care of myself, look after my health, eat well, and work out. We have adult bones in small bodies and staying healthy is very important,” she says.

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Born in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal and the youngest of four kids, Anele’s family helped to build her confidence.

“My family has always been supportive of me and never saw me as someone different. We all did the same chores, and I was never treated any differently.”

In her early teen years, she struggled to accept that she was different.

“I hated people always staring or judging. I doubted myself and my abilities. I had to work extra hard to prove to people that I am being short is not a disability. I’m at a point where I am ready to help people with their confidence issues.”

Anele wishes for people to treat people living with dwarfism with respect and dignity. With season one having come to an end, the cast members are gearing up for season two.

"People can expect more drama on season two; break-ups, pregnancy announcements and marriages."

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