Reality TV star Shauna Rae is just like any other 20-something. She’s splashing around the dating pool and working on gaining independence from her parents. The only catch? The 23-year-old looks like she’s closer to age 8.
“People don’t understand that I’m an adult,” the Long Island native says in the first episode of the new season of her TLC reality series “I Am Shauna Rae.”
The show’s second season premieres at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1, and follows Rae as she looks for love and considers whether she wants to pursue a college degree in business or veterinary science.
Rae was born with brain cancer and underwent chemotherapy as a child. The treatment impacted her pituitary gland, causing pituitary dwarfism. She’s been in full remission from cancer for years but stands just 3-feet-10, and weighs around 50 pounds.
“If you look at me, you see an 8-year-old,” she told The Post. “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.”
Rae told The Post that as she’s navigated the dating world, she’s been able to suss out creeps who are interested in her for the wrong reasons.
“I’ve just developed the ability to spot someone who may not have the best intentions because they give themselves away,” she said. “Their questions are very targeted towards my physicality … They’re learning about me like I’m a specimen in a lab.”
In the new season, Rae is set up on a blind date with Thomas, a 20-year-old volunteer firefighter who also has pituitary dwarfism and is 4-feet-8. Although her lips are sealed on her relationship status, she revealed that “There was this extra understanding” to their dynamic.
“He didn’t have to sit there and have a medical talk with me, which is what I have to do with most men that I date,” she said. “It was nice I didn’t have to walk him through that.”
Rae is currently learning to drive using hand controls since she’s too short to use pedal extensions. She’s also focused on trying to gain financial stability so that she can move out of her parents’ house.
While her day-to-day life is in many ways similar to other young adults, her stature causes numerous complications.
“I’ve had multiple issues with people not believing me when I told them my age. One thing that happened recently was I went to a [lab] to get my blood taken … I was trying to leave, but some employee wouldn’t allow me to, because they thought I was a child leaving without a parent,” she said.
Rae offered to show them her ID, and she also pointed out that she has tattoos and piercings. But the employee got their supervisor.
“They all denied the fact that I was an adult, and they would not let me leave the property without an adult to take me home,” she said. “It got to the point where I had to leave when they weren’t looking. It was so extreme.”
The experience left her feeling quite distraught.
“It’s painful when society doesn’t accept you for who you are,” she said. “I want people to not question me when I say who I am. I’m OK with showing proof, if necessary. But if you’re a typical regular Joe off the street, then you need to take me at my word.”