By Stephanie Stijkel
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Videographer / director: Jason Blalock
Producer: Stephanie Stijkel, Ruby Coote
Editor: Shiona Penrake
Choon Tan, 25, from London, was born with a rare condition called X-linked spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia tarda, a form of dwarfism that affects around one in 150,000 people.
For the first few years of his life, neither Choon nor his family were aware of his condition.
It wasn’t until his early teens that his mother noticed a difference.
Choon told Barcroft TV: “I learned that I have this condition when I was about 12 or 13 years old.
“My mum first noticed that everyone else was growing a lot taller than me, so she took me to the doctors, they did all the blood-tests, all the x-rays and then they diagnosed me with the condition.”
With his short stature, people often assume Choon is a lot younger than his actual age.
Choon said: “I actually had a guy on his bicycle screaming at me ‘Young man, what are you doing out at this time of night?’, I turned around to look at him and he said ‘Oh, I’m so sorry!’.”
And at school, his height meant that Choon was vulnerable to being bullied.
The constant torment from other people chipped away Choon’s confidence and it made him very insecure.
“It made me quite depressed at the time because I didn’t have that confidence,” he said.
“I just didn’t know what I was going to do with my life, I thought what’s the point of being alive?”
The turning point came when Choon left school to go to college - it was a fresh start for him, and he was adamant to make the most of it.
“I started working out, going to the gym, training five times a week,” he said.
And it was there where things took a massive turn for him, as Choon was spotted by a professional bodybuilder who offered to coach him and take him to competitions.
At his very first competition, Choon was awarded a trophy for his conditioning and a love for professional bodybuilding was born.
Choon said: “Bodybuilding helped me in my self-confidence because it showed me that I couldn’t change my height, but I could change the way I look, I could change my confidence and how I express myself to people.”
In 2015, Choon was officially named UK’s Shortest Bodybuilder, a title he wears proudly.
The trophies and appreciation Choon received for his bodybuilding affected other parts of his life as well, it gave him the confidence to pursue a career in acting and performing.
With his Instagram account he tries to inspire other people who might be struggling with their own insecurities.
Choon added: “I think my message for anyone who wants to get into fitness is to just take that first step and start doing it.
“Because you will have amazing changes in your life, and it changed my life.”