Jyoti Amge was declared the world’s smallest woman by Guinness World Records nearly a decade ago. Now she is the focus of a new TLC special called Extraordinary People, which aims to celebrate “several truly extraordinary people who have persevered despite great adversity.”
In the special, Amge, whom viewers may recognize from American Horror Story: Freak Show, and her family “visit the U.S. from India to explore career opportunities and soak up American culture, from bowling to shopping to pizza. But Jyoti is also in America for a far more serious reason: she is hoping to find a doctor to address a debilitating health issue she has endured for years.”
Ahead of the new special, here’s what you need to know about Amge’s condition.
Amge Has A Form of Dwarfism Called Achondroplasia
Achondroplasia is a genetic disorder where a person’s torso is generally of average size but his or her arms and legs are shortened. Other symptoms include an enlarged head and a prominent forehead. According to the United States National Library of Medicine, the average height for a woman with achondroplasia is four feet, one inch.
Amge is an outlier for someone with achondroplasia, as she stands just two feet tall and weighs just 12 pounds, according to TLC’s press release for the special. But she still struggles with complications from her condition, particularly the way achondroplasia can lead to spinal stenosis and pain, tingling, and weakness in the legs that make walking difficult.
That is part of Amge’s journey on Extraordinary People: World’s Smallest Woman — 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.
“TLC honors people from all walks of life in our programming,” said Rick Holzman, SVP Programming & Strategy, TLC. “These specials tell the unique and remarkable stories of people who face overwhelming challenges every day of their lives. And, while their conditions are extremely rare, those at the center of each story yearn for love, understanding, and a sense of belonging. We at TLC are proud to be the platform to share their stories, their struggles and their strength.”
Amge Was Awarded the Guinness Title in 2011 When She Turned 18
Guinness officially declared Amge the world’s smallest woman on her 18th birthday in 2011. Amge took over the title from Bridgette Jordan, an American who stood 2 feet, three inches tall, which is about three inches taller than Amge. Unfortunately, Jordan passed away in 2019.
But in a video chronicling Amge’s award, 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.”
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.”
World’s Smallest Woman airs Thursday, July 9 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on TLC.