Disclaimer: This Article was First Published On Finallynews.com and is published here with approval.
It's not easy being a human. We are all struggling to achieve the perfect image of what a person should look like, even though there's no such thing as perfect. But some people who are born with special conditions have it even harder.
However, some of them have defied the odds and are breaking the boundaries, superficially in bodybuilding. You're about to read some of the craziest stories of little people pushing themselves and exceeding everyone's expectations.
As humans, we're unique
The beautiful thing about humans is that we all come in different shapes, skin tones, and sizes. You'll rarely see two of the same people. We all come from different backgrounds, and that's what makes us interesting as a species.
Though we all are trying to aspire to a certain beauty standard, the thing is, it's impossible we can all achieve that goal. Why? Because we're all born differently. It's about time we start to embrace those differences and see them as beautiful.
Not all people are built the same
As we all know, no two people are the same. We're built differently. Some of us are tall, some of us have broad shoulders, others are long and lean - we're all different. And these differences, though beautiful, are being challenged. While we're all different, society doesn't celebrate those differences.
Instead, when someone is different or stands outside the social norms of beauty, they're viewed as weird. But those are the people who are making the difference the world needs to see.
Bodybuilders aren't one-size-fits-all
When it comes to beauty competitions, bodybuilding tends to admire those who have perfect bodies. They're muscular, they're toned, they're firm. What's not to admire? People who bodybuild spend their days weighing out their food, weight lifting, and preparing themselves for bodybuilding competitions.
It's all about having the nicest looking body in the category you're competing in. While most bodybuilders look alike, some are different from the rest and stand out as they're not your regular bodybuilder.
People who defy all odds
In every industry, you have unexpected people pushing the boundaries. In modeling, you have Madeline Stuart, the world's first professional model with down syndrome. Winnie Harlow is also another model who s unique for her vitiligo skin condition that discolors her entire body.
People all around the world are changing beauty standards and redefining what it means to be beautiful. One man in India is changing what it means to be a bodybuilder in a big way.
Meet the world's smallest bodybuilder
Say hello to the world's smallest bodybuilder, Pratik Mohite. And when we say the smallest, we mean it. Born and raised in Maharashtra, India, Pratik is 3 feet and 3 inches tall. Yet, don't let his size fool you. Though he's the world's smallest bodybuilder, he can pack a serious punch.
At first, he saw his size as a challenge, but now he sees his size as his biggest strength. But getting to this point in his life wasn't easy. He worked through physical and mental challenges to get to where he is now.
Bodybuilding started as a struggle
Now, you see Pratik shining as a bodybuilder, but getting to this place wasn't a walk in the park. Not only did Pratik have the physical challenge of learning how to lift weights designed for a typical adult body, but he also needed to overcome the mental struggle with accepting himself for who he is.
Moreso, he also needed to understand that he was capable of doing anything he put his mind to. Though he's the world's smallest bodybuilder, he's not the weakest.
Pratik didn't have an easy childhood
Pratik was born disabled but didn't realize his differences until he started to go to school. That's when he noticed he wasn't the same as the other children. And, as we all know, kids can be mean. Pratik was teased heavily by the other children for being different.
The sad thing is that Pratik was born this way. It's not something he chose; this is who he is. Bullying can have drastic effects on a child's self-confidence and self-worth. And it certainly had an impact on Pratik.
His parent's words helped him push through
Accepting yourself for who you are isn't easy, especially when you're an impressionable child. For Pratik, he relied heavily on the wise words of his parents. When coming home from school after being bullied, he asked his parents what was wrong with him and how he could get the kids to like him.
They told him something very wise. His parents encouraged him to face his bullies and play with them. Once they saw who Pratik was as a person, they would forget his differences. And that's what happened.
He followed his uncle's footsteps
As the years went by, children from his school were used to Pratik, and many became his friends. However, he wanted more from his life. Throughout his teenage years, he watched his uncle lift weights. His uncle was in the army and would work out to stay in shape.
Pratik started to copy his uncle while he worked out. With time, he started to see his body change in a positive way; Pratik became stronger. But he didn't want to stop there; he wanted to compete.
Pratik decided to join a bodybuilding competition
After seeing his body become stronger and stronger, Pratik decided to take his works out to the next level and prepare for bodybuilding competitions. This was something entirely new for him, but he knew this is what he wanted to do.
The gym he was working out at organized a bodybuilding show, and his friends encouraged him to give it a try. At first, he was hesitant and a little self-conscious, thinking people would make fun of him. But what happened was the complete opposite.
He won gold
When he got up on stage, people started clapping. And after his performance, people came up to him asking for selfies. They were telling him they were big fans, and it made him feel appreciated and accepted. When Pratik was born, the doctors told him he wouldn't be able to walk.
But if those same doctors saw him now, they would have been shocked by his progress in life. In his first bodybuilding competition, he won the gold medal. This is only his first trophy.
Pratik isn't the only one pushing boundaries
Yes, Pratik's story is inspiring and rare, but he's not the only one who's pushing the limits and changing social norms. There are other disabled people around the world entering bodybuilding competitions despite their physical challenges.
If anything, these people show us the power of the human mind and that nothing can stop you when you're dedicated to reaching your personal goals. It's time you met Caleb Mutombo, another bodybuilder who's defying the odds.
Meet Caleb Mutombo
Pratik, though the smallest bodybuilder in the world, isn't the only small bodybuilder in the world. Caleb Mutombo has a body most men would kill for, and now, he's shaking the bodybuilding world up.
The 19-year-old bodybuilder lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, and suffers from an undiagnosed disability that has him growing at a much slower rate than the average person. Though he certainly has his fair share of personal obstacles to deal with, he's not letting them get in his way of becoming the best bodybuilder out there.
Everything changed when he was 14-years-old
When you're a 14-year-old boy, the world is an exciting place to be in. You have minimal responsibility; you get to hang out with your friends and enjoy dreaming. But when Caleb was 14-years-old, he was dealing with a serious problem. He stopped growing.
Now, if he was 6 feet tall, this wouldn't be a big deal. But at the time, Caleb was only 3 feet and 7 inches tall. For anyone who's been a kid, being the short guy in school isn't easy. Especially when you know that you won't get any taller.
Caleb's life was full of obstacles
Caleb and Pratik's childhoods sound all too similar. They both struggled with self-acceptance and grew up with their fair share of bullying and teasing by other children. While Pratik was supported by his friends and family when he started to work out, Caleb didn't receive the same support.
He told the Metro, "When I started out, a lot of people didn't believe I could do it. I faced negativity and prejudice." When trying to improve yourself, it's hard to do it without the support of your loved ones. But Caleb didn't let that stop him.
He uses his disability to inspire
If you couldn't tell by now, Caleb is a very mentally determined man. Instead of letting the criticism get to him, he decided to use his disability to inspire himself and other people around him. This is a beautiful thing to realize.
Yes, he has a disability, but he's not the only one in the world who struggles with a physical limitation. But look what Caleb has done even with a physical limitation. How inspiring is that for people with and without disabilities? It's amazing.
He's doing this for himself
While he hopes his story inspires other people who are dealing with their own obstacles to continue reaching for their dreams, he's doing bodybuilding for himself. He said: 'I do bodybuilding because I love it. I love to see my body grow; I love to feel full of energy and fit at the same time.'
While people are going to say what they want about him, there's one thing they can't say, and that's 'he's a quitter.' This is how it is When you're doing something for yourself, and no one's opinion can change it.
He's not stopping at bodybuilding
Did you honestly think Caleb would stop at bodybuilding? Then you haven't been reading because Caleb doesn't have any limits for himself. Now, Caleb is training to become a personal trainer in hopes of using his determination and willpower to inspire other people to work out and be the best versions of themselves.
He's also training himself to become a professional bodybuilder as well. He has a lot on his plate, but I'm pretty sure he can achieve just about anything.
A man of many talents
Lastly, there's one other man we want to talk about, and his name is Lee Liston. A freelance actor from Utah, the 26-year-old has many talents, one of them being weight lifting. He's the tallest out of the men we talked about, with a height of 3 feet and 11 inches.
But though he has a couple of extra inches on him, it doesn't make his life's story any easier. However, he found his passion in life accidentally. You're about to see what happened.
Lee has a special type of dwarfism
Lee has a specific type of dwarfism called Achondroplasia, which is the most common type of short limbs. The condition affects how the bones develop, specifically in the upper arms and thighs. It also affects the skull and facial structure as well.
It's a genetic mutation that occurs when the egg or sperm is being formed. Around one in 25,000 people are born with Achondroplasia. Anyone can be born with this condition; however, once a person has the condition, it can be passed down to future generations.
His childhood was filled with tears
When any child sees themselves as different from the others, it's not easy to understand or handle. They don't want to be different; they want to be "normal." And for Lee, he struggled to understand why the other kids were mean to him.
He told the DailyMail, 'When I was younger, I remember running into my dad's room crying and yelling, "I hate being little, I don't look like other kids, all they do is stare and call me a midget!"
The one place where he was accepted
When Lee was older, he started to go to the gym and work out. But in the beginning, he wasn't extreme. He was simply working out to stay fit. But eventually, as his muscles grew, he noticed that people at the gym cared more about his muscles than his height.
When he realized this, he became more interested in working out and took it to the extreme. How extreme? Oh, it's extreme. Now, Lee goes to the gym six days a week. Was that really what pushed him?
An internet troll changed his life
Though his younger years were rough times for him, they didn't get any easier as he got older. After he started to find his passion for working out, he was receiving a lot of criticism online.
At first, he didn't let it bother him, but what really pushed him to take his working out to the next level was an internet troll. One troll told him that he's too small to work out seriously and enter a competition. Well, those words only made him want to work out even harder.
His workout regime is extreme
Lee isn't joking around when it comes to his fitness regime. When he puts his mind to something, he goes all in. Lee follows a strict diet regime and says he doesn't struggle with staying on track. And the proof is in his body.
Lee bulked for three months, where he would eat 1855 calories per day, which is double the amount he needs for his body mass and height. He added: 'I don't really like bulking because I love looking lean, so it can be hard.' But it looks like he manages to pull through.
He gets stared at for the right reasons
Before, he felt people would stare at him because of his size. However, after working out, he feels more confident in himself. And now, he's getting stared at for the right reasons.
He said, 'I feel more on the level of others around me; when people stare, it's not because I'm different, they stare because I have muscles. Anywhere other than the gym, I'm seeing as a little person, but when I'm in the gym, I'm respected because of my muscles - I'm seen as an equal.'
He tried this luck on reality tv
As an actor, Lee wants to be in front of the camera. But it wasn't until he started working out when he decided to try out for risker shows, such as competition reality tv shows. Lee started training heavily to audition for Dwayne Johnson's 'Titan Games' but was unsuccessful at making it through the auditions.
It was something he wouldn't have done before, so just making that move was a huge step for him. He said: 'I trained for months for the audition and put everything I had into it, but after I didn't make it, I went to FitCon where I met some well-known fitness celebrities.'
Weight lifting changed his mindset
Lee was so determined to work out; he even entered into a bodybuilding competition - his first one. Luckily, he has the support of his friends and family to help him achieve his goals. For Lee, weight lifting changed his life for the better as now he truly loves who he is, both inside and out.
He said, 'But I've come to embrace my size, which has always been a challenge; there have been days that I wake up wishing I wasn't little, but I think my confidence grew over time.'
He doesn't let the critics get to him
Even though he's staying determined and sticking to his plan, that doesn't mean it's been smooth sailing. Until today, Lee receives a lot of criticism from people online. Many critics, mostly unqualified, claim he's too small to enter bodybuilding competitions or reality tv shows.
For him, the critics are just noisemakers. He said, 'Once I found out who I was, what I wanted, and what I could do, the rest became noise.' And he's continuing to fight for his dreams.
One brand was inspired by his story
When we see fitness and bodybuilding influencers, they all look a certain way. In other words, they're all tall and muscular. However, one brand was inspired by Lee's story and decided to include him in their 'Weight of the World' campaign.
He said, 'This is where the brand Gymshark saw me, and then they got in touch about their 'Weight of the World' and the rest is history!' The campaign was created to challenge people to change and encourage them to work out. After the campaign, people loved Lee's story and flocked to his Instagram.
He's paving the way for others with dwarfism
When it comes to Lee, Pratik, and Caleb, they are doing more than simply showing their determination and strength. They're paving the way for other people who see their dwarfism as an obstacle.
Lee said, 'Parents of kids with dwarfism have asked me advice on how to give their child confidence because they weren't prepared to have a child with Achondroplasia like me. It's so cool that I can be an advocate and ambassador for it.' These men are helping children with dwarfism to see their potential in life.
Size doesn't matter
In life, if there's one thing we have learned from these stories, it is that size doesn't matter. What really matters is how you use what you have. Whether you're short, tall, skinny, or fat, it doesn't matter. You are who you are.
But you can decide what you want to do with your life. These men were all born with physical challenges, yet, they refused to let their disability get in the way of their dreams. One step at a time, they're getting to their goals.
You can achieve your dreams
It's normal for all of us to have self-doubt and believe the critical voice inside our heads. However, that voice is only working to hold you back from taking a risk. In reality, you can complete your dreams, regardless of how wacky or extreme they may be.
Neither one of these men expected to become bodybuilders; all the odds were against them. Yet, they were able to overcome the negative voice inside of their heads and work towards what they wanted.