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Shauna Rae, a 22-year-old woman with a rare medical condition that makes her look like an eight-year-old girl, is poised for stardom with a new reality show, premiering on TLC Tuesday.
The show, “I’m Shauna Rae,” shows Long Islander Rae trying to do normal adult things, like drinking in a bar or trying to get a tattoo to the bemusement of others. But one of her biggest challenges, she told The Post, is dating adult men.
Rae said most of her romantic relationships start out as friendships, where she feels comfortable. But she avoids meeting “creeps” in nightclubs and bars because she questions their motives.
She said she sometimes gets approached in bars by guys “who just stare from a long distance and then, after checking me out, they come up to me.”
It’s a huge turn-off for the former coffee shop worker who gives them the cold shoulder.
“It’s all about that feeling they give me as a person,” she said.
Rae, whose chemotherapy treatment for brain cancer at the age of just six months led to a dramatic stunt in her growth — she stands at only three-feet-10 — also struggles to deal with admirers who talk down to her as if she has the brain of a third-grader.
Describing men who think that way as “idiots,” she said: “I view myself as intelligent and I think, when people first see me, they don’t see me as intelligent. They still don’t understand that I have that intelligence there.
“I tend to find guys that are just one-dimensional and don’t actually have any depth to the conversation. [A deeper connection] is what I’m looking for. I feel like: ‘if I can teach you something, you can teach me something’ — that’s what I look for in relationships.”
The challenge of building “trust and respect” is often dispiriting. “I don’t really try to bother myself with dating because it’s such a long process for me,” she admitted.
Nonetheless, she is optimistic that she’ll meet Mr Right from an initial friendship. “That’s the most trustworthy and comfortable way to do it,” she said.
Rae told The Post that she is not a fan of dating apps and prefers to connect with guys via more old-fashioned means like “coincidental” encounters or an introduction by mutual pals.
However, in one episode of the show, she is encouraged to “try other opportunities” and “outlets” and post an on-line profile on a dating site. In the trailer, she is shown meeting a man on a blind date, who later reveals he thought he was being “punked” when she first appeared.
She said she tries to “stay in the positive with my mind now,” but things weren’t always that way.
At age 16, she said she felt “anger” and “sadness” when her endocrinologist told her she was “stuck” in terms of her growth and development. “There was grief there,” Rae recalled. “I went through every stage of grief for it,” adding that the biggest struggle was accepting the fact she would not get any taller.
She started taking growth hormones at the age of eight but the on/off intervention was stopped for good when she entered puberty. “I reached the finish line, you could say,” Rae said.
Thankfully, the dark times appear to be behind her. She said joking about her situation tends to diffuse any awkwardness with strangers who wonder about her appearance.
“I’ll say things like: ‘Yeah, I jump [over] counters! I can do this and this,’” she continued. “It’s a case of ‘if I can laugh about it, so can you. You don’t have to feel like you’ve offended me because, at the end of the day, you’re being educated.’”
Rae, an aspiring actress who lives with her mom, stepdad and three sisters in Suffolk County, said she agreed to be on TV because she wanted to “inspire others.”
“I would like to reach out to anyone who feels different,” she said, adding that she likes to be identified as a “short person.”
“If I can do it, they can do it. I’m in their corner.
“At the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way… I am who I am because of my body.”
“I’m Shauna Rae” premieres tonight at 9pm EST.