Jyoti Amge, 26, is the world’s smallest woman. Standing just 2 feet tall and weighing only 12 pounds; Amge’s powerhouse personality is barely contained in her very tiny body.
In India, she’s heralded as a goddess, but ‘Jyoti doesn’t believe shes a god,’ said her mother, Ranjana Amge. ‘She wants to be an actor and behaves accordingly.’
Already well known for her role in ‘American Horror Story;’ the Indian actress is now the focus of a new TLC miniseries titled, ‘Extraordinary People,’ which airs tonight at 10pm ET. It follows Amge as she visits the United States to pursue her acting career and soak up the enormity of American culture.
Cameras accompany her as she navigates through bowling alleys, shopping malls, pizza parlors and supermarkets- all while suffering with two permanently broken legs -an injury she sustained after a freak accident in childhood.
The first installment of a new TLC series, ‘Extraordinary People’ focuses on Jyoti Amge, an Indian actress who is the world’s smallest woman, weighing 12 pounds and standing just two feet tall. Above, Amge holds up a pizza slice that is almost half her size
Jyoti Amge poses on her 18th birthday with her mother Ranjana (left) and an official certificate from the Guinness World Records. She replaced American born, Bridgette Jordan who previously held the record 27.4 inches
Jyoti Amge’s small size prevents her from doing most things on her own. ‘I can’t go anywhere by my own choice,’ said Amge, who relies on family members to help her conduct daily activities. Above, she stands on the sink to conduct her morning routine while her sister helps straighten her hair. ‘I can’t turn on the tap, I can’t open the door, I can’t go to the bathroom unless someone takes me and whenever I go out, I have to be carried’
Joyti Amge is trumped in size by a nine month old baby she meets at a super market. Amge (who is the size of a three month old infant) often gets mistaken for being a baby. ‘The best way not to look like a baby is to dress like an adult. But that’s hard when you can only shop in the infant section’
‘Sometimes I feel this world is not made for me,’ she said.
Limited by her short height – Amge can’t go outside alone for fear that people might trample her. ‘I’m so small, people can’t even see me,’ she said.
Basic activities like using the restroom, opening doors, turning on sink taps and walking must all be conducted with the help of family members. ‘Since childhood my life hasn’t been very normal because of my size, I can’t lift heavy things.’
Jyoti Amge, who lives in India with her family, is the youngest of five siblings; all of which are normal height.
Her mother, Ranjana sensed something was different during her pregnancy with Jyoti. ‘She never moved in my womb like our other kids.’ When Ranjana went for a checkup, doctors told her that Jyoti wasn’t even visible on the sonogram.
Weighing less than three pounds at birth, doctors gave Jyoti a poor prognosis for survival. ‘They told us that she only had hours, if she lived at all,’ said her father, Kisan. Despite the odds stacked against her, Jyoti survived and began to develop like a normal baby at first.
‘She learned to walk on time, her teeth grew in on time, she learned to feed herself on time, she was a regular child for a while,’ explained her mother, Ranjana. But it soon became obvious that Amge wasn’t hitting normal development benchmarks and doctors diagnosed her with a growth hormone deficiency when she was a toddler.
It was only during filming for her TLC documentary that Amge, now 26, was properly diagnosed with ‘primordial dwarfism.’ The rare genetic condition affects less than 100 people in the United States and begins developing in the early gestational stages of a fetus. Primordial dwarfs are characterized by their high-pitched voices and proportionate bodies.
Jyoti Amge poses with executive producer Ryan Murphy on the red carpet for ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show.’ Jyoti has been acting since she was 8-years-old but she said: ‘After I did American Horror Story, I became very famous’
Amge suffers from a rare genetic condition known as primordial dwarfism. There are less than 100 people in the United States with her form of dwarfism which is characterized by their high-pitched voices and proportionate bodies
One of the more important reasons for Amge’s visit is to America is to meet with a doctor about her legs. Both of them have been broken since she was a little girl after a freak accident occurred on a family vacation. The reason her feet looks big is because she has to wear larger shoes to accommodate her leg braces
Amge was born weighing less than three pounds and doctors gave her only hours to live. Despite the odds stacked against her, Jyoti survived and began to develop like a normal baby at first until she stopped meeting normal benchmarks as a toddler
Shopping for clothes is a challenge for Amge who wears a size ‘3 months’ in baby wear. Nonetheless, it doesn’t stop her from finding clothes that looked age appropriate on her shopping spree in America. She told the sales clerk: ‘I’m looking for clothes to go out in at night’
Now at age 26, Jyoti is well acclimated to operating at a lower altitude, ‘the whole world is above me,’ she tells TLC. For whatever she’s lacking in height, she makes up for in charisma.
Primordial Dwarfism Facts:
Primordial dwarfism is responsible for some of the smallest people in the world. Adults typically don’t grow taller than 40 inches and often have a high-pitched, squeaky voice due to a narrowing of the voice box.
It’s a rare genetic condition that prevents the fetus from growing normally, which means it can’t be treated like other forms of dwarfism with growth hormones.
Less than 100 people in the United States and Canada are diagnosed with primordial dwarfism, giving the chances of being born with it 1 in 3 million.
Characteristic facial features can include a prominent nose and eyes with an abnormally small mouth. Unlike other little people, primordial dwarfs often have proportional bodies, just smaller in size.
The average adult brain size is about that of a 3-month-old infant but it typically doesn’t affect intellectual development.
Life expectancy is roughly 30 years but the oldest current living primordial dwarf is 75.
Less is never more for the flyweight diva who attracts attention wherever she goes with her outsize personality, infectious laugh, love of makeup, flashy manicures and over-the-top accessories.
She began acting in India when she young, appearing in her first music video at 8-years-old. As her story became more well known, people traveled across the country to meet and see who they thought ‘could be some form of a goddess.’
‘Jyoti doesn’t believe shes a god,’ said her mother, Ranjana Amge. ‘She wants to be an actor and behaves accordingly.’
Eventually she caught the attention of producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk for the hit television show, American Horror Story, who cast her as ‘Ma Petite’ opposite of Jessica Lange in season four.
‘After I did American Horror Story, I became very famous,’ she said with a massive smile.
Jyoti’s infallible self-confidence is palpable but she admits that wasn’t always the case. She explained how she felt alienated as a child in school when she was forced to watch her classmates play outside through a window. ‘I used to think to myself, why am I like this?’
With a masters degree in fashion, she loves shopping but like most things in her life, finding clothes to accommodate her miniature size is a challenge. Fully grown, she shares the same size as a three-month-old baby.
She tells TLC: ‘The best way not to look like a baby is to dress like an adult. But that’s hard when you can only shop in the infant section.’
‘I’m looking for clothes to go out in at night,’ explains Jyoti to a mesmerized sales clerk. Seconds later, the pint-sized fashionista steps out of the dressing room, blowing a kiss to the camera while modeling a leather jacket and a matching, micro-purse that keeps her lipstick and cell-phone. (‘She needs that so she can talk to boys,’ joked her manager, Tim.)
Jyoti is a self-described ‘flirt,’ but admits that she’s never actually kissed a boy. ‘If I find someone attractive I make him my close friend and nothing else because I am so short, our lives are too different.’ Like a lot of primordial midgets, Jyoti has not gone through puberty and therefore is incapable of having children.
Another scene follows Jyoti navigating though a supermarket. Trumped in magnitude by the endlessly long aisles, Jyoti stands no taller than the lowest shelf housing super-sized cereal boxes, 32 ounce soda bottles, and 5 pound bags of rice. ‘I love American super markets because they have a lot more choices than Indian markets – such as chips, cookies, and my favorite, hot cheese puffs.’
She introduces herself to a nine month old baby who already seems gigantic in comparison. ‘Even children are big to me,’ she says.
But size isn’t the biggest thing holding Jyoti Amge back, it’s actually her legs. For the past decade, she’s suffered from bilateral fractures that make it impossible for her to walk longer than ten minutes without experiencing excruciating pain.
Jyoti Amge loves the opportunities in the United States. ‘I’ve been to many countries, but the U.S. is my favorite,’ she told TLC. ‘Whatever I wanted to do, I was able to do after coming to America. Here you can be the master of your own life’
Amge said: ‘I love American super markets because they have a lot more choices than Indian markets – such as chips, cookies, and my favorite, hot cheese puffs.’ She adds: ‘But I sometimes wish I could shop on my own’
Jyoti Amge loves clothing so much that she has a masters degree in fashion. ‘We can change clothes but we can’t change our size,’ she told her friend, the actress Erika ‘Amazon Eve’ Ervin who has the opposite problem, standing 6’8″. Above, Jyoti applies her makeup in the morning
Jyoti’s outsize personality, infectious laugh and flashy style attract attention wherever she goes. ‘Jyoti is more famous here than in India,’ said her sister. ‘Everybody recognizes Jyoti, be it at the airport or the mall’
As her story of her unlikely survival became more well known, people traveled across India to meet and see who they thought ‘could be some form of a goddess.’ Her mother said: ‘Jyoti doesn’t believe shes a god. She wants to be an actor and behaves accordingly’
Above, Jyoti Amge as ‘Ma Petite’ in American Horror Show. She told TLC: ‘I can’t change my size, but I can change my circumstance….My dream is to become a great actress and make a name for myself. Fingers Crossed’
Jyoti Amge is the focus of the first installment in TLC’s ‘Extraordinary People’ series which airs on Thursday, July 9 at 10pm ET. The show spotlights those with extremely rare conditions who face overwhelming challenges in their everyday life
She sustained the injuries while on a family vacation in Kashmir, India. Her father slipped and fell while carrying Jyoti down a snowy mountain and her legs got twisted and mangled in the process.
Jyoti has yet to find a doctor who will take on the risk of operating on her tiny legs, so she is forced to walk with braces and manage the pain with medicine. ‘I have good days and I have bad days but I don’t know if anyone will ever be able to fix my legs,’ she laments.
Along with business and pleasure, meeting with American medical experts for her deteriorating limbs was one of the more serious reasons for her visit. ‘I have fame, I have friends, but because of my legs, I cant live my life to the fullest,’ explained Jyoti. ‘I just want my life to get better.’
In order to accommodate her leg braces, Jyoti has to wear shoes twice her regular size, which makes her feet appear larger. But worse, the leg braces prevent oxyen from properly flowing to her feet, causing her legs to be whittled down and susceptible to infection.
Powerful things often come in tiny packages and Jyoti Amge has become something of a legend and inspiration. But she insists: ‘Whatever I wanted to do, I was able to do after coming to America.’
And while at times, it can seem like Jyoti Amge is living a life by proxy of her caregivers, she adds: ‘Here you can be the master of your own life.’