TLC's Shauna Rae Recalls When She Stopped Growing at Age 16: 'It Was the Lowest Time of My Life'
Shauna Rae is opening up about her journey to self-acceptance ahead of the premiere of her new TLC show, I Am Shauna Rae.
The 22-year-old was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer when she was just 6 months. Though treatment helped her into remission, it also left her pituitary gland almost dormant and stunted her growth.
As a result, Shauna now stands at 3 feet and 10 inches tall, which is the average size of an 8-year-old. "I am a 22-year-old woman stuck in the body of an 8-year-old," she described herself in a previous trailer for the series.
During a recent conversation with People (the TV Show!) correspondent Segun Oduolowu, Shauna said she's often not treated "like a normal human" because of her appearance.
"And that's all I'm asking for, is for people to treat me like a normal human," she said.
"I believe that my story is relatable to everyone because I've felt different my entire life," Shauna continued. "And it's not my situation that makes me relate to other people, it's the feelings. 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."
She also reflected on how her condition affected her as a child and teen, noting that she first realized she wasn't growing at the same rate as her peers around kindergarten, but it wasn't until junior high that it began affecting her mental health.
Then, at 16, she learned that she wasn't going to grow anymore.
"It was a very difficult time," Shauna shared. "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, 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," she said.
As for dating, Shauna says on the show that her "romantic life sucks" — "I think I've dated like 7 people. I attract creeps, a-holes — you know the typical 'bad boy picture' situation — and idiots."
Speaking to Oduolowu, she added that she has to make sure any potential partner understands her situation.
"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. 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," she said.
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Shauna later said she hopes viewers who watch the show can learn from her optimistic outlook.
"Being positive is just the best advice I can give, because at the end of the day, the only person that controls how you feel is yourself," she said.
I Am Shauna Rae premieres Tuesday (10 p.m. ET) on TLC.
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