ADRIAN, Mich – Amy Roloff may be small in stature, but she is large in heart, motivation and wit. The star of TLC reality show, “Little People, Big World” returned to her home state of Michigan to captivate a full house at Adrian College’s Dawson Auditorium on March 12.
The event, part of the James Borland Convocation Series is part of the College’s annual Disabilities Awareness Week—an awareness that Roloff brought full circle throughout her address to the audience. Despite having a smaller-than-average body, Roloff’s limitations were often subject to her own perception of self, rather than her physical limitations. She went on to explain that her self-defeatist attitude clouded the reality to make what was possible seem beyond her reach.
She began her story by describing herself as a package, “Isn’t it more important what I say, than how I look? No matter how good that package looks on the outside, there has to be something more on the inside.”
“Attitude is everything,” Roloff added.
Throughout the talk, she continued to speak on overcoming her own mental stigmatisms associated with having dwarfism. Her stories of social awkwardness and lack of self-purpose struck a chord with nearly every member of the audience.
“I am different,” Roloff said. “I am a little person, short statured. I am a dwarf.”
A Detroit-native, Roloff grew up in a home that she describes as “great,” with a supportive, yet not a coddling environment. She recalls her father’s words of wisdom her first day of school – a day she was filled anxiety over the impressions of others.
“People may not like you, but so what? They may make fun of you, but who cares?“ Roloff recalled her father saying. “‘God does not make mistakes, there is a reason and a purpose why you’re here. Now go enjoy the journey.’”
Roloff earned a business degree from Central Michigan University, quipping that she wasn’t sure if she applied to the small liberal arts college that was acting as her host. “I might have been turned down,” she joked. She noted her original intention was to go into teaching – a career her self-doubt would talk her out of.
“I was too focused on the negative ‘what ifs,’” she said. “I was trying to figure out where everyone was putting me. I made the impossible much easier than the possible. My biggest impossibility was me.”
She acknowledged that fitting into someone else’s world creates a lack of focus for personal direction. “I may not be the perfect package, but I am good with me. Let’s help each other to be the best we can be.”
While she acknowledged that she doesn’t particularly enjoy being on reality television, she has no regrets. As a result, the Amy Roloff Charity Foundation and the Coalition for Dwarf Advocacy was founded.
The Roloffs run a farm in Oregon, where they live with their four children – Jeremy, Zachary, Molly and Jacob. Like his parents, Zachary Roloff has dwarfism.
“I don’t worry about the ‘what if’s’ anymore,” she says of being mom. Her new approach is a can-do attitude and figuring out how.
At the end of her speech, Roloff took a moment to address the audience about the recent statement regarding her separation from her husband, Matt. She noted she was reluctant to address the issue – but optimistic for a positive outcome.
“It makes me very sad, although I make light of it,” she said. “I take my marriage very seriously. I hope we can work things out.”
Her stories – full of heartfelt recollections of family and life – inspired and ignited a passion to overcome the impossible, to believe and to have faith.
“We are all one of a kind masterpieces, why not sign your name to yours and your life. Sign it with a smile.”
At the conclusion of the event, Roloff met with the audience and signed copies of her books “Little People, Big Values” and “Short and Simple Family Recipes.”