The TLC network is debuting a new special Thursday, July 9 called Extraordinary People, which aims to celebrate “several truly extraordinary people who have persevered despite great adversity.”
The first episode is titled “World’s Smallest Woman” and it focuses on Jyoti Amge, whom TV viewers may recognize from American Horror Story: Freak Show. Ahead of her TLC debut, here’s what you need to know about how tall she actually is and what other media she has appeared on.
Jyoti Amge Stands Just Over 2 Feet Tall
According to the TLC press release, “Standing 24-inches tall and weighing just 12 pounds, Jyoti Amge is the smallest woman in the world. And while this 26-year-old may be pint-sized, that hasn’t prevented her from living a super-sized life.”
Amge was officially declared the world’s smallest woman by the Guinness World Records back in 2011 on her 18th birthday. Amge took over the title from American Bridgette Jordan, who stood 2 feet, 3 inches, about three inches taller than Amge. Jordan passed away in June 2019.
In a video, a representative from Guinness World Records recounted how Amge took the title.
“As always, three measurements were taken over a 24-hour period and the average confirmed the record-breaking height of exactly 2 foot. Jyoti’s diminutive stature is due to a form of dwarfism known as achondroplasia. Despite her small size, she’s got big plans and hopes to carve out a career as a Bollywood actress and model. Until then, like many other 18-year-olds, her first priority is her studies.”
She’s On Her Way to That Acting Career
In 2009, Amge appeared on British medical docuseries Body Shock in an episode titled “Two Feet High Teen.” Then in 2012, she appeared on the sixth season of Indian reality TV program Bigg Boss. But her breakout role came in the fourth season of American Horror Story where she played one of the titular “freak show” members, Mahadevi Patel, also known as Ma Petite. She served as an assistant to Elsa (Jessica Lange) before meeting an untimely end when Dell (Michael Chiklis) snapped her spine and gave her to Stanley (Denis O’Hare), who then gave her body to Lillian (Celia Weston) for her Museum of Morbid Curiosities.
In 2012, Amge met the world’s shortest man, a Nepalese man named Chandra Bahadur Dangi, who was 72 at the time.
“It was an extraordinary moment,” said Marco Frigatti, official Guinness World Records adjudicator, of the meeting (via Fox News). “They’re both such incredible individuals. Everyone knew this was a special moment, and the atmosphere was magical.”
Amge’s Condition is Due to Achondroplasia
Amge has a form of dwarfism called “achondroplasia,” which is a genetic disorder in which the torso is usually of normal size but the arms and legs are short. Other features are an enlarged head and a prominent forehead. The average height for a woman with achondroplasia is four feet, one inch, according to the United States National Library of Medicine.
One serious complication of achondroplasia can be spinal stenosis, which is “a narrowing of the spinal canal that can pinch the upper part of the spinal cord. Spinal stenosis is associated with pain, tingling, and weakness in the legs that can cause difficulty with walking.”
Part of Amge’s journey on Extraordinary People: World’s Smallest Woman is that she is “hoping to find a doctor to address a debilitating health issue she has endured for years — two broken legs. However, if surgery is her only option, will she be comfortable moving forward, given the potential risks?” according to the press release.
World’s Smallest Woman airs Thursday, July 9 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on TLC.