It can happen to any child. Growth Hormone Deficiency affects many children round the world making them smaller than average. Early teens in particular face daily bullying by peers and adults alike. In an era where body-shaming is unacceptable, this film, shines a light into the hidden world of what GHD children go through, giving them a voice and the protection they deserve.
Our diverse participants represent a constellation of different experiences on the journey of GHD. From all corners of the world, they call for acceptance, kindness, understanding and a change of perception of what #shorter means. Interspersed between the emotionally piercing stories are testimonies from doctors, psychologists, celebrities, and parents highlighting how rife unconscious bias is and how daily micro-aggression and innocuous banter, when piled up, directly leads to depression, social anxiety and in extreme cases, to suicide.
Lionel Messi was diagnosed with GHD at 12. If Barcelona didn’t pay for his treatment of daily injections, he would not be given a chance to become one of the greatest footballers in the world. Synthetic GH replaced the hormone his pituitary wasn’t making, restoring his strength, energy and overall health.
Chloe, 13, in the US, had to be home-schooled as her size was a constant source of bullying. Her parents moved states and changed jobs, in order to get insurance approve the treatment. Every year they fight insurers with the power to determine their child’s height and overall health.
Nathan Hansen, American Ninja Warrior champion stopped growing at 12 due to GHD, with treatment he is now is 5’2. He defied all odds to win the hardest of competitions.
In the UK, Billy, 15 and 4’11, discovered he was GHD after a 10-year battle with the NHS. Billy has been forcibly locked in cages, physically thrown in the bins and spat at. In the nick of time he got on the NHS program hoping to reach 5’7 for an easier life.
Matthew, 18, however, missed the boat, due to his parents concerns not being taken seriously by peadetricians. Matthew, 5'1", is currently a recluse in his bedroom, feels isolated and faces a challenging future. With treatment he could have reached mid parental height which could have put him at 5’8.
These stories are woven together, as we witness the teens’ isolation, coping mechanisms, triumphs and set-backs, but also the pressures their parents feel.
Travelling throughout the UK, the US, and further, we juxtapose cultural differences and outlooks and pose the question ‘Who determines what height is acceptable, especially when it varies from country to country?’
Dir: Katerina Philippou-Curtis, Producers: Nicola Black (Blackwatch TV), Paul Sng (LS Productions)