A man who dated a 23-year-old woman trapped in the body of an eight-year-old girl has given an update on their romance, explaining that they’re now focused on building their ‘friendship’ after he was branded a ‘creep’ and accused of only being attracted to her ‘because she looks like a kid.’
At just three-feet, 10 inches tall and weighing 50 pounds, Shauna Rae Lesick is the average size of a third-grader.
Her stunted growth is a side effect of brain cancer treatment that she received as an infant, and unfortunately, her disability has made it hard for her to find love.
However, the 23-year-old recently connected with a 26-year-old man from Wales named Dan Swygart, and their meet-up was documented in a recent episode of her TLC reality series, I Am Shauna Rae.
But after Dan appeared in the show, he was bombarded by a slew of backlash from people who questioned his motives, and called the pairing ‘weird’ and ‘disturbing’ due to her ‘childlike appearance.’
Now, he has clapped back at the haters, while admitting that they’ve decided that they’re better off as friends rather than romantic partners.
A man who dated a 23-year-old woman trapped in the body of an eight-year-old girl has given an update on their romance, explaining that they’re now focused on building their ‘friendship’
Shauna Rae Lesick, who is just three-feet, 10 inches tall and weighs 50 pounds, recently connected with a 26-year-old man from Wales named Dan Swygart over social media
They went on a series of dates, which were documented in her TLC show, I Am Shauna Rae, but Dan received a slew of hate afterwards. Now, he has responded to his critics
He shared an Instagram video addressing the backlash, and he admitted that they’ve decided that they’re better off as friends rather than romantic partners
‘Me and Shauna are just good friends, we’re getting to know each other,’ he explained in a recent Instagram video.
‘But I think it’s absolutely disgusting, the attitude of some people. She’s been through so much in life.
Shauna’s stunted growth is a side effect of brain cancer treatment that she received as an infant. She is seen center with some friends
‘She survived cancer as a child, she’s always felt different and was treated different by society. How dare you take away her right to have a connection, a friendship, a relationship with someone else?
‘Who are you to say that she can’t have that? I am absolutely disgusted by some people’s attitudes towards her and my friendship with her.’
Dan previously explained that he reached out to Shauna after watching the first season of her show and becoming ‘inspired by her emotional strength.’
He then sent her some flowers and a card saying: ‘Go live your best life. Wishing you all the happiness you deserve.’
They eventually started messaging on social media, before he flew out to her hometown in Long Island, New York, where they went on a series of dates, all of which, were showcased in the show.
In Dan’s Instagram video, he admitted that ‘despite all the hate,’ some ‘amazing things’ have come out of his appearance in the series.
‘Me and Shauna are just good friends,’ Dan said in the video. ‘But I think it’s absolutely disgusting. How dare you take away her right to have a connection with someone else?’
Dan said he hoped others who may be suffering from a disability could watch the show and feel hopeful that they too could form a ‘connection with someone’
After connecting online, Dan flew to New York to meet Shauna last year. They went to an aquarium, an escape room, and made sushi together
He said he hoped others who may be suffering from a disability could watch it and feel hopeful that they too could form a ‘connection with someone.’
‘I’m so proud to have had that positive impact on the world,’ Dan continued.
‘So many people who have disabilities or they have friends and family who have disabilities have reached out and said, “Thank you for showcasing that.”
‘It’s OK to build a connection of friendship with someone who’s different by society standards.
‘It’s given so many people hope that despite them being different, they too can find an amazing friendship and connection with someone.’
During the episode, Shauna gushed about how ‘similar’ she and Dan – who has a knack for traveling and is often jetting off on various vacations – were, explaining that it was his adventures that ‘piqued her interest.’
The pair spent their first day together at an aquarium and escape room, and were joined by her 18-year-old half-sister, Rylee.
In another part of the show, Dan came over to her house to make sushi rolls. She introduced him to her mother and stepfather, Patty and Mark Schrankel, who soon started interrogating him.
Patty asked him things like how often they talk, which Dan said was almost daily at that point, and what his intentions were.
Although he looked visibly uncomfortable during the questioning, Dan was open about how he wanted to take their daughter around the world with him on his travels.
After the episode came out, he was branded a ‘creep’ and accused of only being attracted to her ‘because she looks like a kid’ on social media
‘I think Dan would be a really good match for Shauna because he’s very smart [and] adventurous,’ her stepfather told the camera afterwards.
‘Shauna’s smart but not very adventurous. I think he could pull her out of [her] comfort zone but still make her safe.’
‘I’m not really irritated by my family when they bring up those future questions,’ Shauna said in her confessional.
‘I haven’t talked about it with Dan. I’m kind of letting it go as it may, but it’s nice kind of try to see if he can answer it.
‘I haven’t actually really thought about if Dan and I were in a relationship and how that would look.
‘I assume that we would probably try long distance, but I’ve been in a long-distance relationship and it’s not my cup of tea.’
Shauna was six months old when she was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor.
She had surgery and underwent three years of chemotherapy – and while the treatment was successful, it made her pituitary gland – which monitors and regulates many bodily functions by producing hormones – almost dormant, stunting her growth.
She was able to grow another eight inches with the help of synthetic hormone injections, but when she was 16, her doctor told her that her bones had fused and she wasn’t going to grow anymore.
In a video shared to Instagram in December, Dan first defended his relationship with Shauna, insisting that he built it over ‘who she is an individual,’ rather than her appearance
In the clip, Dan admitted that he knew he was going to get ‘some hate’ when he agreed to appear on the series, but called it ‘absolutely disgusting’ and ‘dehumanizing’ to Shauna
‘You are dehumanize her, which is absolutely disgusting,’ he said. ‘She is a human being. She deserves to have connections with whoever she wants.’ Shauna is seen with a friend
Dan’s visit to the Dtates ended with him hanging out with her while she bartended a charity event. They shared an awkward slow dance before he left.
‘I’m sure that I’ll see Dan again,’ she told the camera. ‘He’s coming back.’
After the episode came out, many people flooded the comment section on YouTube with their thoughts about Dan and Shauna’s relationship, with some people calling it ‘concerning,’ ‘uncomfortable,’ ‘creepy,’ and ‘not right.’
‘Sorry but the fact that he spotted her online and contacted her on purpose makes me feel uncomfortable since looks are usually the first and most important impression you get online,’ one person wrote.
‘It would be totally different if they got to know each other by coincidence in real life and he got to love her for her character and was sort of seeing past her childlike appearance.
‘Dan almost seems especially attracted to her BECAUSE she is tiny which is concerning. I am sorry.’
‘I’m sorry, but any man that wants to date her – there is definitely something not right with him,’ another added.
‘Yes, she is 23, but she looks and talks like an eight-year-old. She also does not act like a mature woman. She is childlike.
‘If any man or woman can honestly say that they can see her as a “sexual woman,” they are either lying or sick. PERIOD.’
During the episode of the show, Shauna gushed about how ‘similar’ she and Dan – who has a knack for traveling – were, explaining that Dan’s adventures are what ‘piqued her interest’
In one part of the show, Dan came over to her house to make sushi rolls. She introduced him to her mother and step-father, Patty and Mark Schrankel, who couldn’t resist interrogating him
In the show, Shauna (seen throughout the series) said that she wasn’t interested in a ‘long-distance relationship’ and since Dan lives in the UK, she wasn’t sure what was next for them
‘Yeah this is super strange and the parents should watch out … Why would he go out of his way to be with someone who still at the most looks 11 years old?’ asked someone else.
‘I’m a guy and Shauna seems very naïve about the world and there are men who are very charismatic or good looking that can use people.
‘It’s OK to build a connection of friendship with someone who’s different by society standards,’ Dan said in his Instagram video. Shauna is pictured
‘I hope he’s legit and if he is she is very very lucky since predatory men are more likely to be into her.’
‘Guy 100 per cent has a fetish. Despite how nice of a young woman she may be, she STILL looks like a child,’ a different user said.
‘I don’t know about this guy… I still think it’s creepy,’ agreed another viewer, while a sixth message said, ‘He looks at her a bit weird. I think he’s got a weird kink. Idk.’
‘Oh yeah, he’s a creep who just wanted to be on TV,’ someone else wrote.
‘Yes, she is an adult, but she looks like a kid. Her body looks like a kid. It’s sad that this is probably what most guys that want to date her are like, but it’s the truth,’ another person said.
In a video shared to Instagram back in December after the episode first aired, Dan defended his date with the reality star, insisting that he built his relationship with her over ‘who she is an individual,’ rather than her appearance.
‘It’s very important to remember that Shauna is an incredible 23-year-old woman who has a disability,’ he said.
Shauna was six months old when she was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. She is seen as a baby
She underwent three years of chemotherapy – and while the treatment was successful, it made her pituitary gland – which produces hormones – almost dormant, stunting her growth
When she was 16, her doctor told her that her bones had fused and she wasn’t going to grow anymore. She is seen recently
After Dan’s visit ended, Shauna told the camera, ‘I’m sure that I’ll see him again. He’s coming back,’ however, it now seems like they’re focused on being friends. She is seen recently
‘So as you are building a connection with her, it’s important to acknowledge her disability and look past that and build it with who she is an individual.
‘She’s this incredible, inspiring 23-year-old woman who just happens to be a little bit short.’
Dan also admitted that he knew he was going to get ‘some hate’ when he agreed to appear on the series, but called it ‘absolutely disgusting’ and ‘dehumanizing’ to Shauna.
‘As soon as you say that she can’t have a real-world connection with someone else, you dehumanize her, which is absolutely disgusting,’ he continued.
‘She is a human being. She deserves to have relationships and connections with whoever she wants.
‘And I think some people aren’t emotionally mature enough to understand that you can have a deep connection based on personality rather than just on looks.’
His parents, Helen and Steve, who live in a small rural village in North Wales, also leapt to his defense afterwards, telling DailyMail.com exclusively that Dan and Shauna’s relationship was not romantic despite them going on dates in the show.
Helen said: ‘Daniel rang me and told me the story has gone everywhere. They are just friends. There is no relationship. They are friends.’
‘He has appeared in their show and that’s the extent of it. That’s it, it’s as simple as that,’ Steve added.
‘He looks at her and thinks she is a tremendous person despite her disability, she’s only small.’