January52013

Heightism: The “Socially Acceptable” Discrimination

Can we all, as a society, stop acting like shorter men are somehow inferior human beings to taller men?  This is something that has been annoying the crap out of me recently. 

I started getting angry about this topic about a year ago.  My best friend gave me an otherwise charming book called How to Walk in High Heels: A Girl’s Guide to Everything by Camilla Morton.  The gift was lovely and thoughtful, and I adore most of it.  The book has a lot of decent “girly” type advice for various situations, and it’s helped me several times.  

But there was just one little excerpt in there that I found horribly offensive:

If your escort is shorter than you in your highest heels, dump him immediately.  Pointless.  A pair of Manolos lasts a lifetime, and you shouldn’t compromise style for love.” 

WHAT?? Firstly, a man being shorter than you, no matter how well he treats you, makes him suddenly unworthy of your time or attention? Secondly, what does his height have to do with how stylish you are?  Thirdly, if you dump him because you like your shoes better, it’s not love.  Just.  Saying. 

I hear this mentality from almost every girl I ever talk to about guy preferences: “He’s nice, but he’s shorter than me.”  ”I like tall guys because I feel like they can protect me.”  Stuff like that.  All the time.  

What’s worse is that when I say something simple like, “I don’t really have a height preference, it doesn’t really matter to me if a guy is taller.”  The response is inevitably, “*SNORT* That’s easy for you to say — you’re short.”  

This is true.  I’m about 5 feet tall when barefoot.  Is it statistically likely that a majority of men are going to be taller than I am?  Sure.  But that’s not the point.  If I found a perfectly wonderful guy who was 4’8” tall, I would not like him any less than I would if he were 6’ tall.  In fact, I’d even still wear high heels, for two reasons: 1. Because I like wearing heels, and 2. Because I wouldn’t feel the need to alter my wardrobe choices for the sake of diminishing the fact that we have a height difference. 

What about feeling protected?  Well, I feel much safer walking around at night with a man, any man, than without one.   His height doesn’t make him unable to deliver a swift sock to the jaw should someone try to harm me.  

What about feeling all small and adorable?  Pff, I’m small and adorable no matter who I’m standing next to.  His height doesn’t change the fact that I’m totally small and adorable.  He can still wrap his arms around me, can’t he?  

(EDIT: this paragraph was left out the first time I published it, but I wanted to add it in, because it has to do with the topic)  Furthermore, when I happen to find myself interested in a man much taller than me, some of my taller female friends disgustedly say stuff like, “Why do short girls always steal the tall guys?”  As if tall guys are the only acceptable ones, and short girls should only choose guys who are height-proportional to them in some way.  As if we should pay attention to height at all, instead of getting to know them as human beings. It takes all within my power to testily point out that just because they’re heightist, they don’t need to accuse me of being so as well.  When I like a guy who is 6’3”, as I already said, I’d like him just the same if he were 4’7”. 

Now, I’m not going to lie.  Am I terrified that some of my female friends might be offended by this blog post?  Yes.  But this is something I find important, and I’ll explain why a couple paragraphs from now. 

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having personal preferences regarding the type of person you would date.  For example, I prefer men with whom I can have an intelligent conversation.  This doesn’t mean that if we can’t have an intelligent conversation, he’s stupid.  It may be that he and I are intelligent about different subjects.  But I have a preference toward men with whom I can have an interesting, thoughtful discussion about something we have in common.  I also have physical preferences.  I don’t happen to find especially muscular men physically attractive.  I wouldn’t reject one if I felt an emotional and mental connection to him and he happened to be pretty buff, but as far as what I find physically appealing, personally, I am more drawn to men who don’t have “washboard abs.”  

People have preferences.  I get it.  What I don’t like is that so many women act  like shorter men are defective in some way — as I said before, they say stuff like, “He’s cute/nice/funny/smart/&c., but he’s short.”  As if being shorter than her is so egregious, it cancels out every single admirable quality he may possess.  I also hear stuff like, “He’s a great guy, but he’s shorter than me — he’d be great for a short girl.”  What that says to me is, “He’s a great guy, but not good enough for ME to consider…he can find someone on his level.” 

Now, here’s why this is important to me.  Girls complain about guys doing this same thing all the time.  ”Why do guys only like blondes with big boobs?”  I hear frequently (and sometimes feel, because I’m human and sometimes have thoughts that aren’t perfect).  ”Why do guys only like girls with long hair?  Who are skinny?  Who are tan?  Girls who play sports?  Girls who wear dresses?  &c. &c. &c.”  

I am a women, and I hear other women’s complaints about men’s perceived preferences daily.  I feel those same things that these other women feel — that I am somehow inferior to other women who have x quality, and I only have y quality.  But women, if we feel that men always reject us for some physical quality, why do we feel totally OK with treating short men as if they aren’t worthy of our consideration as romantic possibilities?  As if him being shorter than you makes him unworthy of your consideration, or worse, that it negates all of the good things about him as a person?  

If you think the discrimination against short men isn’t a problem in society, you should probably see this video.  Everyone should, in my opinion. 

Food for thought.  

If you want me to talk about heightism toward any other group, let me know. (I know tall women, for just one example, feel it too). 

For more information about heightism toward short men, check out The Social Complex.

 

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