By Charley Sutton @charlsutton
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Videographer / director: Carlos Chiossone
Producer: Charley Sutton, Ellie Winstanley
Editor: James Thorne
Born with a type of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenital (SEDc), Julie Bond Genovese stands at 4ft 3in tall and says her condition has been a ‘mind-blowing and heart-wrenching all-you-can-hurl rollercoaster ride’ and she grew up believing she was ‘cursed.’
The counsellor from Dover, New Jersey, describes the way children with dwarfism are measured, talked about by doctors, and put through surgeries, which creates an inner sense of being a ‘broken person.’
She said: "I grew up thinking I was a genetic mistake, a freak of nature and it was a time of deep shame and isolation.”
But Julie says that the years of operations, stares, bullies and rejection has made the 53-year-old the strong woman, mother, wife and successful therapist that she is today.
She said: "I was the problem. I completely defined myself by my physical appearance, by my dwarfism, and by the things that were wrong instead of looking at the things that were right.”
Julie now spends her life helping people with all areas of their life; including work stress, family issues and relationships.
She said: "Being born with dwarfism, doctors were always trying to fix me from the outside, but you really need to start from the inside.
"I worked hard to change my belief system from feeling like a victim to feeling more empowered and I made that transformation.
"Now I want to help the other people do the same."
Because of her stature, Julie believed she would never find love and was too scared to date throughout school.
She said: “When my girlfriends talked about their crushes and their first kiss, I became the one that would be supportive of them and excited for them. But nobody asked me.
“I thought: ‘Well I don’t like this body, so no one else is going to like it.
"I was desperate for boys to like me probably from 6th grade. I think for the most part I pushed any idea of it because it was so terrifying to be rejected.
"In general, dating just brought up all the insecurities I had. I had such deeply engrained insecurities and many Little People have this.
"I went through high school without knowing anyone who was ever interested in me; I had lots of crushes and lots of broken hearts but never went on a date or prom.
"I didn’t have my first boyfriend until I was 26 and I had already begun to work through the idea that I was pushing people away, not that I was being judged so harshly by the outside world."
But after leaving university, she worked in a self-help bookstore and began reading books by personal growth authors like Wayne Dyer, which helped her develop her own confidence.
That new-found confidence enabled her to start dating her future husband Bill - who is an average height of 5ft 6ins - when they met at a mutual friend’s house. The couple now have two sons, Spencer 16 and Kyler 12.
Julie said: “When I started to read self-help books and personal growth philosophy, that’s when I started to realise: ‘I am in my way.’ I can have as good a life as I believe in and it wasn’t about what the doctor’s opinions were.
"Most people feel separate and isolated and when I realised that, the more I understood that I was just like other people. I wasn’t so different.
"I met my husband when I was 31. We were both invited to a friend’s house.
“He didn't see difference. We just felt a connection.
"I later heard from Bill that I said, ‘Hello' to my friend and he said: ‘You know I heard your voice before I saw you and what I heard was the joy."
Bill said: “What I like most about her is that she doesn’t just lie back and just say, 'I can’t do it’”
"Most people are doubtful about coaching because it creates doubts within themselves. But once people talk to Julie, it’s easy to talk to her. She brings in her experience.”
Julie is also an artist and used to sell her drawings in the bookstore, but a shoulder injury due to her condition meant she couldn’t work. She began pouring out her heart in emails to her friends and family – and eventually Bob and Julie realised she was writing a book.
Her memoir Nothing Short of Joy was published in 2010 and she is now a counsellor, self-help coach, and inspirational speaker – she coaches people in her house, or via Skype, and she gives talks at events and conferences to adults, and even to classes at local schools.
Her methodology involves breaking through the BS (belief systems!) to stop the worries that are holding you back so that you can fulfill your desires and find your joy.
Julie said: “I think my job as a coach is to help people find their own truth that has been buried under these beliefs.
"As a life coach I am sharing what it took me years to realize - that you are enough.
“We are incredibly unique. No one else in the history of the world will be us. There will never be another Julie.”