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22-year-old woman who is ‘stuck’ in the body of an eight-year-old opens up about her struggles


A 22-year-old woman who is ‘stuck’ in the body of a little girl has opened up about how her childlike appearance makes dating extremely difficult, saying her ‘romantic life sucks.’

Shauna Rae’s stunted growth is a side effect of her surviving brain cancer as an infant. At 3 feet, 10 inches tall, she is the average height of an eight-year-old and is frequently mistaken for a child.

She is documenting her journey to self-acceptance in the new TLC reality series ‘I Am Shauna Rae,’ and ahead of Tuesday’s premiere, she sat down with People (the TV Show!) correspondent Segun Oduolowu to talk about her life.

Shauna explained that is she is rarely treated ‘like a normal human,’ and when she is considering going out with a guy, she has to screen them first.

‘I have to have in-person conversations before we even think about going on a date. I have to know how this person reacts in public areas,’ she said.

‘I have to know if they’re going to be able to deal with all the issues I have because I can’t date someone unless they can take all of that on. And it’s a lot to ask someone to take on.’

In a clip from the show, she elaborated on her dating woes, saying: ‘I think I’ve dated like seven people. I attract creeps, a**holes — you know the typical “bad boy picture” situation — and idiots.’

When she met with a blind date in one episode, he confessed that he thought he was ‘being punked or something’ after she walked up and introduced herself.

Shauna was six months old when she was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer and underwent chemotherapy that rendered her pituitary gland almost dormant, stunting her growth.

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She explained during her interview with Oduolowu that she first realized she wasn’t growing at the same rate as her classmates when she was in kindergarten, but it didn’t start to affect her mental health until she was in junior high school.

When she was 16, her doctor told her that her bones had fused and she wasn’t going to grow anymore. She was just a few inches shy of 4 feet.

‘It was a very difficult time,’ she recalled. ‘It probably was the lowest time of my life, because I always imagined that I would be tall. And getting that news, it just kind of was like a hammer crashing into glass.’

‘I kind of isolated myself in a way so I could find myself and be happy with who I am,’ she added, ‘because at the time I wasn’t happy with who I was. I started doing online school, and I just really focused on me and what I wanted to do, and who I was as a person, and bettering myself.’

Shauna believes her story is ‘relatable to everyone’ because she has struggled with feeling different her entire life.

‘And it’s not my situation that makes me relate to other people, it’s the feelings,’ she said. ‘It’s the emotional things that we go through. A lot of people have different circumstances, but it’s the same emotional turmoil that we go through.’

Her childlike appearance has also affected her family, and in a preview clip from the premiere, she explained how wearing makeup and dressing her age has led to her mother getting ‘negative attention’ from judgmental strangers.

‘Shauna likes to dress up like any other 22-year-old,’ her mom Patty explains, ‘but we go out together and she gets looks like “Oh wow, what is she doing? What is that kid doing?” her mom Patty said in a sneak peek shared by People. ‘And then I get the looks of “How could you? How could you let your child dress like this?”‘

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Shauna said her mother tries to explain that she is an adult who can make her own decisions, but they ‘don’t believe her’ and ‘call her a liar.’

‘I feel horrible for my mom because I don’t deal with all the backlash because they don’t think it’s appropriate to come up to a child and say these things,’ she shared. ‘They think it’s appropriate for them to come up to the mother, which isn’t appropriate at all in my opinion. And I know it affects her.

‘I think she covers it up very well, but I think it’s one of those thoughts at the late of night that comes up into her head. If someone had commented on me that day, she would overthink it until she fell asleep.’

Patty admitted she does ‘think about it all the time’ as her eyes welled up with tears.

‘I don’t know why I’m getting upset. It’s just, I feel so… I guess almost guilty that she will have to go through this for the rest of her life,’ she said.

‘It doesn’t seem like there’s going to be a time that is just going to be okay, or is going to be normal for her.’

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