I was born into a family of very petite people – let’s face it – with a mom who is now under 5 feet (she was 5 feet 2 inches in her prime), and a dad who stands at 5 feet 4 inches tall ( he hasn’t shrunk much), genetics pretty much guaranteed I would be born a shrimp. I have wavered between acceptance and resentment for the “shorthand” that genetics dealt me. The cons of being short are offset by the pros, which oddly are sometimes the same, but in different situations take on a negative or positive connotation. Size may matter (in some instances), but unless your life’s aspiration is to become a professional model or athlete, height really doesn’t matter so much. The unfortunate thing is that height discrimination exists. It is more a state of mind than body when my petite stature has impacted me negatively. In other words, I have suffered from “height envy” in certain situations – from the superficial to the sublime.
I have observed many behaviors in tall strangers that I do not detect in petite strangers. For one thing, really tall people seem totally and completely oblivious about other people’s space. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have nearly been obliterated by tall people running right into me as if I don’t exist. Do they think I am insignificant because of the small space I inhabit? I use the term strangers because I personally know a handful of really tall people who are very kind and considerate, but they know me. I don’t know how they act in public among strangers – for instance in the grocery store.
I have put together a list of pros and cons of being short in an increasingly tall world – one that has gotten statistically taller according to science. Over the last 150 years the average height of people in industrialized nations has increased an estimated 10 centimeters (or four inches). So it is not my imagination, folks.
Pros of Being Short in a Tall World
- Sneaking into the front of a crowd and not blocking anyone’s vision
- Finding coins because of my close proximity to the ground
- Being called cute or adorable
- Being a girl and not a guy
- Invisibility when/where it is better not to be noticed
- Buying Capri pants and wearing them as full-length slacks
- Buying shorts and wearing them as Capri pants
- Being agile and fast in situations where it counts
Cons of Being Short in a Tall World
- Not being able to see a damn thing in a crowd when I cannot sneak to the front
- Not being able to reach anything on upper shelves at stores and even in my own home
- Risking life and limb to climb up on counters and shelves to reach things
- Being called cute or adorable and not sexy and beautiful like that damn long-legged blonde – maybe it is blonde envy rather then the height thing
- Being overlooked - at deli counters without numbers, at parties, board meetings, art gallery openings, etc.
- Being forced to shorten petite size slacks by a few inches and regular size slacks by a freaking foot or more
- Wearing tops and blazers with sleeves that cover my hands
- Not having that extra height to put away winners on the tennis court
- Having an exquisite daughter who cannot model because she inherited my short genes and cannot wear tall jeans … she reminds me of this frequently
The fact of the matter is that the world is sexist when it comes to height. It is a lot more acceptable to be a peanut when you are a female. I was never called little puke, scrawny, puny, or the like – nor bullied because of my petite size. But I was and continue to be ignored in public – tall people just don’t look down. I find it really odd that so many short woman go for tall guys. My own personal experience with tall guys was disastrous – the tallest guy I ever dated was a clod – in every possible way including physically, but especially emotionally. I am very happy to be with Jeff – a sweet guy who is close to my height and coincidently the same height as my dad.
For all you short people out there – you know we are in good company. There have been a lot of famous short men and famous short women throughout history. There are decidedly more websites featuring famous short men than short women. Here are a few of my favorite famous people with their heights:
- Woody Allen – 5 feet, 6 inches
- Ludwig Van Beethoven – 5 feet, 3 3/4 inches
- Bob Dylan – 5 feet, 6 inches
- Michael J. Fox – 5 feet, 4 inches
- Judy Garland – 5 feet, 3 inches
- Dustin Hoffman – 5 feet, 6 inches
- Curly Howard – 5 feet, 5 inches
- Ellen Page – 5 feet, 1 inch
- Edith Piaf - 4 feet, 8 inches
- Pablo Picasso – 5 feet, 4 inches
- Natalie Portman – 5 feet, 3 inches
- Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – 4 feet, 11 inches
- Martin Scorsese – 5 feet, 3 inches
- Reese Witherspoon – 5 feet, 2 inches