Montzingo is originally a YouTuber, but became a TikTok star after his videos blew up during the pandemic. Users loved Montzingo's wholesome relationship with his mother, who has dwarfism. Montzingo -- who is the only person of "average height" in his family -- has created popular content about accepting who you are.
TooFab spoke with the social media star and his co-author, Sands, who opened up about valuing the importance of making one's differences their strengths. As the two detailed their life story and the development of their friendship, one message remains clear: loving yourself improves not only your life, but also the relationships within it.
This core message makes their new book "Little Imperfections," perfect not only for kids, but also for people of all ages as Montzingo and Sands hope to touch the lives of every age group and inspire them to value their self-worth. "Little Imperfections" comes out on November 1st. Hard cover is available for pre-order now, and when the book comes out, four variations including paperback and e-book will be available everywhere books are sold. Each book also comes with a QR code that shows a video adaption of the story.
Learn all about Montzingo and Sands' bond, the book's message and more in the Q&A, below!
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Peet, your platform explores being the only average-height member of your family. What was that like growing up?
Peet: Well, see to me growing up in a little family is just like normal, I guess. So, I feel like it would just be weird to think of anything else, you know having parents or family that is taller than me. With that being said, growing up that way, it was definitely an experience. You know, I was definitely able to do things like hide things on the top shelves. So as a kid, it definitely had its perks, but you know, as I was growing up, I started to realize all the different things that could be problematic having dwarfism, the health issues, and things like that. So I feel that it's really been a wild ride just kind of understanding it, and I still am obviously. I am obviously not a little person, but I feel like I really empathize and connect with them.
That's amazing, thank you for sharing that. So, Rocky, how did you guys meet, and what really started your bond?
Rocky: That's a great question, so this story goes back almost 10 years ago. The year I think is 2012, and I was kind of living in a ramshackle apartment south of Hollywood Boulevard. For a long story short, I had to get out of that situation, and I needed to find a roommate stat, or else I was going to be homeless. So I logged into Craigslist and the first listing I saw was this guy named Peet who needed this place in East Hollywood. He had the lease all signed, and just needed a third roommate to solidify it. So I contacted him. I drove over. I met him that day, and I said, "This guy seems like he's not going to kill me, so this is good." And I handed him my first month’s rent, and said, "Okay man, let's do it." And so we met very, very randomly on Craigslist. The friendship sort of blossomed, and now I can't escape him.
The best relationships come from random occurrences. So, Peet, you have a lot of videos with your mom and your family. What's that bond like? And Rocky, what has it been like seeing that relationship?
Peet: So the bond, especially with my mom, it feels very like "we get it." It feels very natural. Like, growing up, we always had a special kind of bond, and you know I wish I had another word for "mama's boy," but I don't. I just really am a mama's boy. I'm just a lot like her, and so because of that we're able to be on the same wavelength for things. That's why the videos come so easy, and it's always fun when we're together.
Rocky: In terms of seeing the bond, Peet and I have a shared unique experience because starting at a certain point in our lives, I think for Peet it was age 11, and for me, it was age 13, we were both basically raised by our mothers exclusively. Like I said, I've known Peet for 10 years and because we lived together for so long, I kind of became intertwined in the family dynamic as well. I've been a part of Peet's sister's lives and his brother's. And I've met his brother's kids and I've done Thanksgiving with his mom at her house, and to me, it was just sort of an extension of my family where it's just a mom and son energy. I never thought twice about the dynamic, it just kind of always was [like that]. There's obviously a lot of love there, and they have a lot of fun, and it’s impossible not to have fun when you’re with them too.
Peet: Well unless we're forcing you to film a video for us.
Rocky: Well yeah, that is not fun, for sure, comes with the territory at this point.
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You guys have a beautiful bond. What inspired you guys to come together and write this book? And what do you hope people take away from this book?
Rocky: Obviously, Peet has been posting these videos, and he and I have been posting videos kind of like this for a really, really, really long time. You know, we were doing vlogs before Vine was even a thing, and we have private videos on YouTube that if ever got released would be highly embarrassing. So it just kind of felt natural, and then he had this amazing thing happen to him during COVID when his TikTok kind of exploded and his YouTube blew up alongside it. And he contacted me one day, and he said, "You know most of my videos that do the best are around this wholesome content where I have really, really simple messages that display me and my mom interacting with one another." The credit really belongs to him where he says, "I want to write a children's book, and put all these messages into one thing where people can sort of read my story, front to back. And I need help writing it, so do you want to do this with me?" And we were dumb and said, "Yeah, that sounds simple, let's do it!"
Peet: Yeah and children's books ... we thought it was going to be really easy, throw a couple [of] pictures together and put a couple [of] words in. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into because children's books are the hardest, especially because you know we wanted it to look sexy and magical, so we have the dust jacket, and you know all these things. We're very creative. We're not very business oriented. So yeah like overall we're super impressed with the product and hope it touches a lot of people's lives, like not only kids who are maybe going through something or maybe feel like they don't fit in, in whatever way they don’t, but also for adults. There's a very deep message, so just because of that, we are banking on it hopefully touching people’s lives, so it's worth all the headache for us. It's been like years, almost. We're a year and a half in the process, and that is way longer than we thought.
Rocky: Yeah, we thought it would take a week.
Peet: That's true. We thought, "Yeah, we could get done in a month and release everything and make a video about it." Because we also did a video version of the book as well, so a lot of illustrations in the book, each chapter is kind of based on the frames that were in the video. Kind of like a new way to experience the book with the video. So a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in this project, but we’re really happy with it.
You both are advocates. How do you both advocate for the little people community?
Peet: I advocate obviously through this book, through the videos I do. I go to a conference almost every year called "Little People of America," and it's a place where a lot of little people can come together, and build relationships and have things that they can use and buy that's customizable for them at this convention. So you know going there, and just through every day, walking around and people talking about dwarf-tossing, and I'm like, "Oh this is my opportunity to educate somebody the best I can." So just in kind of way I can.
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Rocky: And I think Peet advocates more on an explicit level because he has a platform now, and I guess my role is a bit more mitigated in the sense I feel like my job is mostly to support him, especially through this process, like how can I help him tell this story and distill this really complicated but beautiful message down into a few words that rhyme.
Looking at media representations of little people -- what do they get right, what do they get wrong? And what do you hope changes in the future?
Peet: So there's definitely been a lot of progression for sure, especially with Peter Dinklage because he was supposed to do a new adaptation of "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs," but he basically said, "I'm not going to do that because it’s not fair you’re typecasting dwarfs and little people." So there's definitely a lot of progression, but at the same time there's not that many little people out there, so it's hard to make a movement out of something that has been one way for so long, and that is so misunderstood. A lot of people think, "I'm under 4'8" so I'm a dwarf." And it's just like, "No, it’s really not that simple." There's a lot of work to do. but there's definitely been a lot of good progression.
One of the themes of your book and platform is taking your weaknesses and reforming them as positives. How do you guys take your weaknesses and reframe them as positives, and what impact has that had on your life?
Rocky: I think everybody in the history of humanity from the dawn of time has always felt, whether they admit [it] or not, a little different. Right, I feel like being misunderstood and feeling like you don't fit in, and wondering where your place in the world is, it's a pretty common theme of the human condition. And oftentimes, especially now with social media, it's really easy to compare ourselves to what we think we should look like or we think we should be making or what we think we should want. And really, Peet and I have always believed, somewhat naively, that our biggest "weaknesses" are always the things that make us unique, our biggest strengths. Your perspective that you grew up with that no one else has allows you to see the world in your own unique way. And everyone has that special something, and it's about being able to turn inward and embrace that. For me, I grew up in Arizona in the 90s as a half-Asian, half-Jewish kid, which was kind of weird back then, and there was a lot of identity issues that took me a while until my adulthood to embrace and see, "You know, this isn't bad, this is actually the thing that makes me who I am." I'll hand it over to Peet, so he can talk to you more about that.
Peet: Basically, it's the same. That's the beauty of it, everyone has their own thing. So if you can just identify what it is, what you think is your weakness, and make it your strength, like really go into that nitty gritty place and discover yourself and embrace who you are unconditionally, it also helps you connect with other people. It helps, that's the main message of this book, it’s not even just "dwarfism awareness," it's more just my life. It's just that. No matter how you feel different, if you have one arm, if you just don’t get along with your teammates, no matter what it is, it's just how you can use that as your strength instead of your weakness.
Rocky: It's about embracing the things that make you feel different. Often the things that make you different are the things that make you beautiful.
Exactly, a lot of this is about self-worth. So what would you say to someone who is still discovering their self-worth and now going on that journey?
Rocky: I would say be kind. Be kind to yourself mostly, and know that you're on exactly what you're on, a journey, and it takes a while to get there. And I feel we can be really mean to ourselves, and the moment we start embracing what makes us different and loving those things, it's kind of the turning point when we begin to love ourselves.
Peet: Reflecting outwards, I feel, we feel, that everyone feels that way at one point, and it will happen. You just have to keep loving yourself, like Rocky was saying.
One more question, and it's kind of fun. Peet, you've had experiences with the infamous Cecil hotel, and I was wondering if you both have had any creepy supernatural encounters. Do you guys believe in ghosts or spirits? What's your take on that, especially with Halloween right around the corner?
Peet: Yes, I definitely believe that The Cecil is haunted, only because of the things I've seen from living across the street. Now people actually live there, it's a homeless shelter, which is great, but before anyone was there, the things I would see like curtains moving and windows opening and closing by themselves and doors and figures and dark shadows. It came to the point that I started making videos about it, and people were like, "You're lying because where's the proof?" So I started trying to record the proof, and I started doing live streams, and people were like, "Oh my God, I see it too." I could go on like this forever. Yes, it's creepy, and I live alone, so I get as much garlic and salt and Bibles and whatever else as I can.
Rocky: I believe it too. You know, I obviously don't live by The Cecil, but I remember when Peet was moving into that apartment, and I was the one who told him what that building was. He goes, "Check out this huge place I found, and the rent's super cheap." And I looked across the street and said, "Dude, this is why it's super cheap." And I definitely didn't visit him for a couple [of] years because I was afraid of it, but there might be another book in the future between us about haunted hotels, who knows?
"Little Imperfections: A Tall Tale of Growing Up Different" is available on November 1. Click here to pre-order now.