Jonathan Novick is a 22-year-old dwarf who takes viewers on an undercover journey through New York City in his new documentary, “Don’t Look Down On Me.” Throughout his life and on the footage, he captures strangers gawking at, photographing, harassing, and mocking him for his stature. The inspiration for the six-minute documentary came from a lifetime of countless negative encounters that have gotten him fed up.
“I wanted to stop telling people what happened to me and I wanted to start showing people what happened to me,” Novick said in the film. “I wanted to show everyone what a day in my life was like.” By hiding a camera beneath his clothing and walking the streets of one of the busiest cities in the world, he recorded his daily torture to help people understand his perspective and make them self-aware of their own actions.
"The next time you see someone who is different than you, think about what their day might be like," Novick said in the video. "Think about all the events of their life leading up to that point and think about their day — and think about what part of their day you want to be."
Novick doesn’t want to dictate how people think or feel, but just how they act and realize they have the power to change how other people think and feel, whether that be positive or negative. His dwarfism condition achondroplasia is a bone growth disorder and is the most common cause of disproportionate stature. People with this disorder have disproportionately short arms and legs, fingers, and a large head with prominent forehead.
There is currently no treatment or cure available for the disorder. It affects one in every 15,000 to 40,000 live births and has been detected as a gene mutation of the FGFR3 gene, which is responsible for making the protein fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 that converts cartilage to bone. Most people with archondroplasia are born from average-size parents who have a gene mutation in either one parent’s egg or sperm cell before conception.