When Seattle native and artist Peet Montzingo was born, he had a 75 percent chance of turning out like his parents and siblings, all of whom are little people. But that didn’t turn out to be the case — in fact, Montzingo, who now stands well over 6 feet, found himself as the odd one out as early as an 8-year-old.
“Imagine you feel like the head of your household at 8 [years old],” he told In The Know. “In certain ways, it really was awesome because my older brother is athletic and I’m very artsy, so — the combo of us two — I’d always just get on his nerves, and he’d try and beat me up but he couldn’t.”
Still, Montzingo often questioned whether he’d fit in his family. There were times when he wished he was also a little person. On other occasions, he’d worry about what his friends would think if he were to invite them to his home.
“There’s a bunch of different things that you don’t really think about being in a little person family,” he said. “But then, at the other side, I think it’s weird in other people’s situations when they are in an average-sized home. I think it’d be so odd if my mom and dad were taller than me, I wouldn’t even know what to do.”
Over time, Montzingo learned to worry less about the differences in his family and focus more on educating those around him, he said. In recent weeks, for example, the artist, who moved to Los Angeles as a member of the band 5 West, has been destigmatizing dwarfism by sharing playful TikToks of himself and his mother Vicki. The clips come at an opportune time — October is Dwarfism Awareness Month.
“You know, you grow up and you think of your mom as like, you know, your mom and then when you get older, it’s a totally changed dynamic,” Montzingo said, adding that he only started including his mother in his TikToks while quarantining at her home. “It’s fun now. We’re making memories as adults.”
“It’s a son’s job to annoy his mom,” he wrote in the TikTok’s caption.
The TikTok has since received over 28 million views and more than 37,000 comments.
Another TikTok shows Montzingo waking his mother up with the trombone and subsequently playing sound effects as she sorts through the mail.
While most of the TikToks are lighthearted in nature, the purpose, as Montzingo said, is to normalize conversations about — and with — little people. The artist also created a video in recognition of Dwarfism Awareness Month.
“A lot of the audience on TikTok are Gen Zs, and, with the Gen Zs, a lot of them aren’t old enough or haven’t experienced life enough really to have met another little person or really know much about little people,” he said. “So it’s awesome to educate them in a way … it’s fun to kind of, like, make fun of it a little bit but kind of be like, ‘No, but, really, this is how you’re supposed to talk to them.'”
For her part, Montzingo’s mother, who has more than 350,000 followers on TikTok, has been soaking in her newfound celebrity.
“She’s super excited,” he said. “She just is. It’s just a lot. She’s trying to juggle everything.”
*This story was updated to include mention of Montzingo’s video, which recognizes Dwarfism Awareness Month.
If you enjoyed this story, you might want to read about the TikToker who shows what it’s like to live with an extremely rare form of dwarfism.
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