If you attended the Gutsy Girls Adventure Film Tour in 2019, you’ll no doubt recognise my guest on Sparta Chicks Radio this week; Melanie Stamell.
Mel is an inventor and adventurer who has tried it all: kayaking, climbing, caving, mountain biking and, her favourite, skiing.
Mel also has a rare form of Dwarfism and so most commercially available sporting and outdoor adventure equipment doesn’t fit or suit her.
Luckily Mel grew up with an interest in fixing things (initially with sticky tape) and parents who taught Mel and her two sisters - who also have Dwarfism - from an early age to adapt and find ingenious ways to get around the challenges their height presented them.
That interest not only led Mel to get a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering but develop the skills to adapt or make from scratch her sporting and adventure equipment including kayaks, paddles and wetsuits.
In this episode, we discuss:
* where the idea for the documentary orientated from
* how she discovered her love of the outdoors and why she would make sleeping bags for her Barbie,
* what prompted her to build a kayak for her final year project as part of her Masters degree at University,
* how her 400km road cycling trip through Europe came to be featured on the BBC (and why she gets frustrated when the media focuses on her Dwarfism),
* some of the barriers to entry she faces including the need to stand on the roof of the car to transport her kayak,
* why she says the ‘disgusting’ portrayal of dwarfism on television and in the media is even worse than not seeing anyone who looks like you,
* why asking for help is a privilege and why she’s ‘unsympathetic’ to people who can’t or won’t do it,
* the coping mechanisms she uses when the Imposter Complex or her self-doubt bubbles up, and
* why being upside down in a kayak isn’t the scary part of a trip.
Notes and resources: