The Social Complex

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A Blog dedicated to the exploration of height bias and discrimination.


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  • April 15, 2014 8:54 am

    Stop Heightism: High heels are never the answer

    TSC: A beautiful analysis of the recent ABC radio broadcast about heightism by “The Shorter Bloggess”.  As per usual, she does an amazing job and brings out some points that I hadn’t considered.   

  • April 13, 2014 2:02 pm
    Anonymous:  Hi- Any thoughts about starting something like NOSSA? I was a member, and sadly the organization fell apart pretty quickly. I don't know if it was due more to internal conflict, or membership/funding issues as I don't recall what -if anything- was sent to members when it finally shut down. What you're doing here and elsewhere is awesome, but having a formal organization with funding and some marketing/lobbying potential could be very effective as well.

    TSC: I have no plans to do something like this anytime soon.  But, I also agree that an organization is needed. 

  • April 13, 2014 2:01 pm
    Anonymous:  I hope all the short guys in this world aren't discouraged by shallow bitches claiming short guys aren't worth their time. Because trust me when I say that, just like there are men who love tall women, there are also women who really love short men. I am such a woman, and I know I'm not alone. Try to stay strong guys, one day you'll meet the right woman who just plain and simply won't give a damn about being the tall one, in fact, it might even make her like you more. ;)

  • April 4, 2014 1:06 am

    The long and the short of it

    TSC: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation recently published an interesting radio piece about the way short men and tall women are perceived in society, as well as how those perceptions affect their respective lives.  For the most part, the questions and conclusions drawn from the guests on this topic were fair and mature. 

    However, I do have some major criticism of the piece.  I felt that the overall tone of the broadcast was inappropriate and the actual content was lacking in terms of people who could speak intelligently about heightism as a pervasive and harmful social phenomena.  

    At one point they interviewed Howard Goldberg, filmmaker of the documentary S & M: Short and Male, about heightism as it applies to short males and most of what he said was fairly accurate and mildly informative for those who may have never been introduced to the subject.  However, Mr. Goldberg is far from an anti-heightism activist.  In fact, if you listen to the radio program as it aired (which is archived in the form of a link in the article), you’ll notice that one of the last things said in the broadcast was a piece of ludicrous advice from Mr. Goldberg on how we should challenge heightism.  That is, we shouldn’t challenge heightism.  We should stick our proverbial heads in the sand because (as he puts it) “the best thing a short person can do is to completely forget about being short”.  Imagine if NPR in the United States broadcasted an interview about racism featuring a black man who said “the best thing a black person can do is to completely forget about being black”.  Or imagine what would happen if a show was done on sexism and they found a woman to say “the best thing a woman can do is to completely forget about being a woman.”  What would such a statement have to do with racism or sexism?  Likewise, what did Mr. Golberg’s statement (which seems to this author to be verging on a perverse type of self-hate) add to the discussion about heightism?   

    Unfortunately, to some extent, the Goldberg interview fit with the tone of the entire piece.  There was even a segment in which a proprietor of a “shoe lift” shop was interviewed and at no point did the interviewer question whether or not promoting shoes which make people taller is a better route to take than actually challenging the social prejudices which make people want to become taller.  

    Additionally, there was no substantive statistics given about the level of wage discrimination shorter people face in the job market, their odds in finding a romantic partner or obtaining leadership roles, their increased rates of depression or suicides, or their decreased rates of self-reported “quality of life” arising from heightism and various types of microaggressions connected to height related body shaming. 

    Throughout the piece, there also seemed an implicit suggestion that much of heightism was a “subconscious” (a distinction with very little substantive meaning) and therefore blameless prejudice.  And all of that before I even mention the background music selected for the piece.  Ostensibly, the program was about social discrimination and body shaming - but, for some reason, they choose a generic uptempo salsa beat for the background music.  It’s like “today we are going to discuss a serious social ill that very few people talk about because while it’s socially acceptable, questioning it is completely taboo… but first, the smooth yet spicy Afro-Cuban rhythms of José Alberto, ladies and gentlemen.”      

    I can sum up the section on tall women in one sentence:  Sometimes tall women feel masculine because of gender norms but they have Tall Clubs where they can meet even taller men to compensate for these feelings.  The End. 

    Now, don’t get me wrong.  This broadcast was much better than most of what I hear about heightism in the media.  The content and analysis was lacking, but the topic was taken fairly seriously and there was very little blame-shifting (until the very end).  I would have liked to have seen a bit more information about how society regards short people instead of simply how some short people cope with social stigma.  But, the fact that the topic was taken seriously at all (instead of as an opportunity to hurl short “jokes” and engage in body shaming) is a step in the right direction. 

    I highly recommend this broadcast to anyone interested in the topic of heightism.  You should give it a listen at least once. 

  • March 28, 2014 11:47 am

    TSC: An ad for something that might help short or tall people find clothing.  I’ve never used the service and so I can’t vouch for it. 

  • March 27, 2014 11:58 pm
    Anonymous:  Do you think that most people are actively aware of height discrimination and either don't challenge it or actively encourage it, or that most people simply don't think about it and would make some effort to change if they were aware of how serious an issue it is?

    TSC: These are not mutually exclusive choices.  Actually, I think that most people ARE NOT actively aware of height discrimination.  They are aware that it’s somehow vaguely harder to be short and “better” to be tall, but the idea of it being framed as a social prejudice doesn’t occur to most people.  But, at the same time, even if they were aware of how serious of an issue it is, they would continue to support and celebrate heightism.  I generally believe that the first step to challenging any type of entrenched social bigotry is to encourage those who are discriminated against to muster the courage to actively fight against it. 

    Any action to fight prejudice has to start with the people who are most affected by the prejudice.  No one is going to lift a finger before some critical mass of short people actually start to speak up about it. 

  • March 23, 2014 3:05 pm

    TSC: Seven seconds in….wait for it.  CBS is the most conservative and risk-adverse broadcast network in the United States, but openly humiliating short men or suggesting that we are innately inferior is apparently perfectly acceptable.  

  • March 20, 2014 10:55 am

    Oppression is Hilarious

  • March 20, 2014 8:04 am

    TSC: The flippant tone here is a little annoying and there was very little talk about social stigma generally; but this is an interesting video for those who are unaware. 

  • March 19, 2014 9:36 pm

    TSC: Sort of cute, I guess.  Shorter guy/Taller gal couple in one scene.  The ad could be put in a negative light, but I’m not going to over-analyze this one.