01 bb Copyright Ines Barwig

(Image ©Ines Barwig)


I’m Emily Sullivan Sanford and I’m an American woman with achondroplasia, the most common type of dwarfism. Any children I have biologically will each have a 50% chance of having achondroplasia. No choice about any of that.

What I did choose, among many things, was to undergo limb-lengthening throughout my adolescence, which brought me from a height of 4’2” (1.20 m) to 5’1” (1.50 m). You can read about my reasons for doing so here. Over those years, I taught seminars to middle school, high school and college students about dwarfism, limb-lengthening and every social consequence of these issues I could think of. Since then, I discovered I liked being such a loud-mouth so I’ve chosen to continue to write, speak, and argue about disabilities and disenfranchisement in all its forms. I also chose not to have my 60+ scars surgically removed. 

I currently work as a writer, translator and teacher in Berlin. I’m constantly trying to figure out why inequality has survived throughout human history for so long, why truly universal human rights is such a young concept. Chauvinism based on that about which we have no choice – our sex, gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, physical traits, or mental abilities – is so utterly illogical, yet it endures. Call it feminism, call it civil rights, call it human rights, call it battling prejudice or promoting diversity. No matter the label, this blog aims to spark discussion by confronting any hierarchies based on our delusions of normalcy. 

But any “holier than thou” attitude that comes across should be ignored or called out. Because I’m anything but holy.

For questions, comments or requests, contact me here:  paintingonscars[at]gmail.com

Copyright: Unless stated otherwise, all content on this blog is my intellectual property.

Non-commercial use: Feel free to reproduce my text or images for non-commercial purposes, but please attribute my writing to me with an appropriate link to or citation of this blog.

Any other use: Commercial use or alteration is only allowed with my written permission.

The header of this blog is based on an image by Joe Plocki used and altered under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons license.

The identities of many of the unnamed people cited in my blog posts have been altered to protect their privacy.


19 Responses to “About”

  1. progressabilityproject February 18, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    Great site, even better content. I blog on similar issues related to disability at progressabilityproject.wordpress.com

  2. Dance Pundit. August 12, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    I am really looking forward to reading your blog. I started learning about these topics during college but I was never to fully explored them. I am excited to continue understanding those different perspectives.

  3. Inês A. May 7, 2013 at 12:43 am #

    Curious how I found your site… searching about art. And then, I read achondroplasia in a tag. And I started one month ago a site about my daughter Clara and achondroplasia. It will be very stimulating reading your issues! I´m already liking this accidental gathering!


  4. Runaway Nuns and Leprechauns May 27, 2015 at 6:42 am #

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed (that’s how I found your blog).

  5. Runaway Nuns and Leprechauns May 28, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

    Hello Emily, I recently started to follow your blog and was so taken by it that I nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award! If you choose to accept simply go to my blog site and follow the instructions- here is the link…

    Thanks for being such a great blogger!

  6. Runaway Nuns and Leprechauns May 28, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    Ok… the link didn’t post as it should have… I’m trying to re-send it to you..

  7. Runaway Nuns and Leprechauns May 28, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

    …and here it is

  8. khanrose123 May 29, 2015 at 9:29 pm #


  9. G.U.M August 21, 2015 at 11:19 pm #

    Hi! I really like your blog, and I was wondering if you are a millennial (born 1980-2000)? Our site focuses on the millennial blogger and reader, so we like to verify before reblogging material.

    • Emily Sullivan Sanford August 25, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

      Yup, born 1981. Thank you for your interest and apologies for the lateness of this reply.

      • G.U.M August 25, 2015 at 6:06 pm #

        It’s a-ok. Thank you!

  10. jjbova82 October 30, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

    I really like your Blog. I kinda stumbled upon it, but it’s amazing. What are you teaching in Berlin?
    I am trying to decide what to write a blog about. Yours has kind of inspired me to write about my personal life, and what I have been through, and what I believe. Thanks for the awesome Blog, and keep up the good work.

    • Emily Sullivan Sanford October 31, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

      How kind of you to say!

      I’ve been teaching English to adults and children for over 10 years now, and I also teach seminars and workshops for teachers and their stidents about diversity.

      I wish you all the best in your endeavors. Have fun with your new blog!

      • jjbova82 November 3, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

        Not a problem. Keep up the good work. I am slowly learning Italian, and hope to be fluent someday, but I don’t know that I could ever teach.

  11. crookedbynature November 30, 2015 at 6:25 am #

    I’m excited I found your blog, so far i’m loving reading your stuff. Also your about page is awesome.

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