A popular travel blogger slammed social media users for their ableist comments ripping on his romance with a 23-year-old reality TV star who looks like an eight-year-old girl.
"I am not a creep," said Dan Swygart, a 26-year-old who started dating the star of the TLC reality series I Am Shauna Rae.
Shauna Rae has pituitary dwarfism.
Her condition was the result of receiving chemotherapy for brain cancer as a child, which impacted her pituitary gland and stunted her growth.
Due to her younger appearance and weighing 50 lbs and standing 3'10 tall, dating has been a struggle for Rae–who has been in full remission from cancer for years.
That was until Swygart pursued her after watching the first season of her show. He said he reached out to Rae with flowers after being inspired by her strength and personality.
Since then, the pair have been seen going on a series of dates, which were shared by them on social media. When Swygart–who is Welsh-British–was slammed online for pursuing Rae, he vehemently defended their friendship in two Instagram Reels.
He said in one of the reels posted on Sunday:
"Me and Shauna are still just good friends getting to know each other. But I think it's absolutely disgusting the attitude of some people."
"She's been through so much in life. She survived cancer as a child, she's always felt different and been treated different by society."
"But how dare you take away her right, her human right, to have a connection, a friendship, a relationship with someone else?"
"Who are you to say that she can't have that?"
Swygart continued saying he was "absolutely disgusted" by some people's attitudes towards their relationship.
"I cannot believe some people who deny her the right to have a friendship or connection with someone else."
"She is a human being, she is a cancer survivor, she's got disability, she had dwarfism."
"Who are you to take away her right to have a friendship and connection with someone? How dare you? How dare you?"
Those who found themselves relating to Rae's situation expressed their admiration for Swygart's statements.
In a second reel, Swygart explained how he met Rae and why he decided to reach out to her.
"The way me and Shauna met was I saw the first season of the show and I was really inspired by her emotional strength so I sent her some flowers and a card to say go live your best life, wishing you all the happiness you deserve."
"I did the show knowing I was going to get some hate but it's very important to remember that Shauna is an incredible 23-year-old woman who has a disability."
"So as you're building a connection with her, it's important to acknowledge her disability and look past that and build it with who she is as an individual."
"As soon as you say she can't have a real-world connection with someone else, you dehumanize her, which is absolutely disgusting.'
"She is a human being, she deserves to have relationships and connections with whoever she wants."
"I think some people aren't emotionally mature enough to understand that you can have a deep connection based on personality rather than just on looks," he added.
People continued praising Swygart.
Last year, Rae confided in The New York Post about how she was constantly underestimated due to her tiny frame.
“If you look at me, you see an 8-year-old."
"But I think if you take the time to look at the details in my face, in my hands, the maturity in my body—and I think if you take the time to actually talk to me—you really understand that I’m a 23-year-old.”
The future of their romantic status however is uncertain as her British paramour returned to the UK where he lives.
Rae, who remains a resident of Long Island, New York expressed not being keen on long-distance relationships.
“I haven’t actually really thought about if Dan and I were in a relationship and how that would look."
"I assume that we would probably try long-distance, but I’ve been in a long-distance relationship. It’s not my cup of tea.”