If we want men as a gender to question the beauty standard, shouldn’t we be willing to do the same?
Recently, I was out to dinner with a group of girlfriends, and one them, a super-smart feminist writer who has contributed to this very website, was filling us in on her dating life. Specifically, she was lamenting the fact that she had made a date with a guy from an online dating site before realizing that he was only 5’6. Now she felt obligated to attend despite the fact that she “didn’t even want to go anymore.”
The friend in question is roughly 5’2.
Now, I don’t mind a short guy one bit. A short man who has the confidence to go after me, a 5’10 woman, is sexy as hell. But I’ve noticed that the subject of male height has the capacity to turn even the most open-minded and feminist of my friends into straight-up bitches.
The general consensus around the table that night was no short guy is ever gonna get it, no way, no how, ugh, never never never never, with the kind of vehemence that would make me feel sick to my stomach if directed at a woman’s size or shape by a group of men. Even for the short women of the group, it wasn’t enough that a guy be taller than them — he had to be objectively TALL, even if that meant towering over them.
Of course, this was an uncensored conversation among friends, not intended for public consumption. But while the tone may be variable, the sentiment is real. A recent poll found that 70 percent of British women prefer men over six feet, and an quick xoJane staffer poll on the topic came up with about 80 percent agreement.
TSC: Read the rest of this fantastic article at the link!
TSC: Huu? I don’t watch “The Bachelorette”, but I doubt they would kick off all the short guys at the same time in the first episode. I mean, usually during these dating shows, they’ll keep at least one short dude around - at least for comic relief. It probably wasn’t that bad.
TSC: This video actually had me laughing out loud in some parts. Basically, the video features a Pick Up Artist (PUA) giving advice to a short guy who has written in to say that he has trouble attracting women because he’s 5’4”. The PUA says that this thinking is “bullshit” because it’s a “limiting belief” that has no basis in fact.
His evidence for this?
(1) He and his mom liked to make fun of short men who seemed angry all the time. They called it little man syndrome.
(2) He once knew this short man who talked shit at a club and he was beaten to death.
(3) There are tall guys who come back from War with no noses or legs, or they have scars running across their bodies - and yet, they date dozens of women a week. How dare you complain, you ungrateful asshole. Those men are overseas dying for YOU!
TSC: I just found a video on YouTube which shows a taller guy speaking about his thoughts and feelings about heightism. It’s clear that he is thinking out loud about the issue for the first time and hasn’t generally given it much thought. However, I’m impressed that he at least tries to learn about it with an open mind.
I’m not sure what his thoughts say about the issue of heightism though. First of all, he focuses primarily on heightism as it applies to dating and romantic attraction - coming to the conclusion that height doesn’t matter in his community because a short guy once dated a woman who rejected him. This reasoning is problematic on multiple levels, but I think it reveals something about how we view social privileges which may apply to us. That is, we deny them.
If you listen to his arguments closely, he doesn’t completely reject heightism as a possibility. He merely rejects the idea that he is benefited by being tall. He does this through anecdotal evidence, identifying himself with a social “out group”, and even blame shifting - near the end, he claims that short men “hate” tall men.
So, this simplest analysis of this video yields a rather naive taller guy who foolishly rejects his own obvious social privilege as a defense mechanism to protect his self-image. However, one can also come to a different but valid conclusion about heightism after watching this layperson’s account of the prejudice. That is, he makes the claim that Hispanic women do not really care about the height of Hispanic male suitors. While I suspect that this is an exaggeration, there is probably truth to the idea that heightism is more pervasive within some cultures than others.
TSC: Check out this awesomely positive, and somewhat humorous, account of a tall woman who decides to broaden her dating prospects to include short men. And yes, the article comes off as a little patronizing, but it’s cute and mostly positive.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
The argument for dating a shorter man
The absolute quickest way that I filter through men that I might be interested in is by height. I love me a tall man. When you spend 96.4% of your life taller than everyone around you, it is a pretty awesome thing when someone makes you feel small, more specifically when he’s handsome and hugging you. That being said… boy, does that narrow down the dating pool a TON. Apparently, as of late, I have seemed both extra fantastic and extra tall, because I have gotten several comments like “If I was only two/three/four/eight inches taller; I would totally date you”. At first it was strictly flattering, but then I started to experience a hint of frustration. Really? The only reason we can’t date is because of my height?
It was at the moment that I realized that I was as much of a culprit as any of them, I am a heightist! (Urban Dictionary defines this as one who discriminates based on height).
Since coming to this realization, I have spent the last couple of days attempting to reason myself into the idea of dating shorter men, or at least being willing to consider it. Here are a few of the key arguments for why this would be a good idea for me to take for a test drive.
TSC: Read the rest of the article by clicking on the banner or clicking here.
TSC: Got this interesting e-mail from a friend of the blog from Brazil. Slightly edited for content and context, and to eliminate potentially personal information.
I’m here to tell you another little story from Brazil.
A local news program showed the story of an Indian guy who was deceived by a Brazilian woman on Facebook. She used on her Facebook profile pictures of the Brazilian actress Giovanna Antonelli, none of her pictures were really her own.
The Indian guy (26 y.o.; single) showed several real pictures of him and used a webcam to show himself for the Brazilian woman (42 y.o.; divorced, mother of 2), that obviously said she didn’t have a webcam. Naively he believed her and in a crazy moment decided to leave Dubai (where he lives) and come to Brazil with just am one-way ticket and almost without any cash.
Once in Brazil, he learned that the Brazilian woman was not the beauty he thought she was. In fact, she is a mildly fat woman and probably not very pretty (in the video her face is not shown).
Well, it turns that she reject him, an obviously handsome guy….and why? She thought he was taller! He is just too short for this beauty queen….
I couldn’t tell you how many times I experienced (myself and through others) this same kind of story. Heightism is so deeply rooted that even a lying, unattractive woman feels free to reject a man just because he happens to be too short for her standards.
TSC: So, to add more fuel to the fire, I submit for your approval this research paper from scientists at the London School of Economics. The learned readers of this blog have long known that heightism is a social construct. But these researchers go even further and hypothesize that even the Male-Taller-Norm is a fairly recent social construct which arose out of the industrial revolution when communities transitioned from being concentrated and highly cooperative to being dispersed and self-reliant due to an increase in the relative number of “strangers”.
(To be honest, when I first read this paper years ago, I thought “there must be some mistake”. We live in a modern society which is so awash in heightism that I couldn’t even imagine a society in which short men are not regarded as automatically inferior. Notice the fact that most people have never heard of this research or anything like it.)
You can click on the link here to see more information, or you can Download(138KB) the PDF in order to read the entire paper. Here is the abstract.
How universal are human mate choices?: size doesn’t matter when Hadza foragers are choosing a mate
It has been argued that size matters on the human mate market: both stated preferences and mate choices have been found to be non-random with respect to height and weight. But how universal are these patterns? Most of the literature on human mating patterns is based on post-industrial societies. Much less is known about mating behaviour in more traditional societies. Here we investigate mate choice by analysing whether there is any evidence for non-random mating with respect to size and strength in a forager community, the Hadza of Tanzania. We test whether couples assort for height, weight, BMI, percent fat and grip strength. We test whether there is a male-taller norm. Finally, we test for an association between anthropometric variables and number of marriages. Our results show no evidence for assortative mating for height, weight, BMI or percent fat; no evidence for a male-taller norm; and no evidence that number of marriages is associated with our size variables. Hadza couples may assort positively for grip strength, but grip strength does not affect the number of marriages. Overall we conclude that, in contrast to post-industrial societies, mating appears to be random with respect to size in the Hadza.
My phone gave a satisfying bing as a new message from OkCupid.com, the ubiquitous free online dating site, popped onto the screen: “LimeGreenRobot is checking you out!”
Apparently LimeGreenRobot liked what he saw, and sent me a message asking an important question to consider before even contemplating a first date: “Who is your favorite superhero? I like Captain Planet.” He claimed to be college educated, appeared to be attractive, used correct grammar, and had acceptable taste in music — everything I usually require from an online suitor before I respond. However, his profile said he stands at an elfish 5-foot-5, while I am an Amazonian 5-foot-10. What to do? Dare I dodge OKCupid’s arrow and ignore a potential soul mate, just because of his height?
How do tall women and short men survive the dating world? A 2008 study of 382 undergraduates in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that both sexes preferred relationships where the woman was shorter than the man. Curiously, the research also showed that women enforced the norm more strongly than men. Twenty-three percent of men but only four percent of women said they were open to a relationship in which the woman was taller.
"Women’s cultural vision is being feminine, having a man big enough to make her feel protected. Many women hold this stereotype to a point where it excludes a lot of people they might be interested in otherwise," said Dr. Pepper Schwartz, a sociology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, and the chief relationship expert for PerfectMatch.com.
Men may be less open to dating a tall woman than they think, she added. “For men, I think the cultural vision of a tall woman is a beautiful woman. While a lot of men don’t want someone taller, they like the idea of a tall woman.”
Joey Maestas, 23, a digital journalist at Sports Illustrated, is 6-foot-1. A former college football player and wrestler, Maestas said he dated three female athletes who were over six feet tall, including a volleyball player with five inches on him.
"I personally think dating taller girls is a lot of fun. I love the look people give you when you walk into the room with a really beautiful 6-foot-6 girl," Maestas said, though he admitted, "It gets a little awkward when it comes to kissing, especially when you’re at a formal event and she is wearing heels."
Nearly half of men in the study indicated that their tallest acceptable date could be taller than them or their height (24 and 23 percent, respectively), while 53 percent required their date to be shorter than them. But a whopping 89 percent of women said the shortest person they would date would still have to be taller than them. Only seven percent would accept someone who was their height, and just four percent would allow for a shorter guy.
"Women view taller men as more likely to be physically dominant and potential protectors, which provides a feeling of safety," Dr. David Frederick, co-author of the study and visiting professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, wrote in an email. "For some women, being with a taller partner makes them feel smaller, and it is not surprising that some women prefer this given the pressure on women to be slender." Evolutionarily speaking, women may have developed a preference for taller men because of the advantages height provides in male on male competitions, he added.
Frederick’s claim is in keeping with the experience of Allison Hughes, 25, a 5-foot-8 book publisher from Washington, D.C., who found that dating shorter guys made her feel less confident.
"When I’m with taller guys I feel more feminine and sexy, whereas when I have been with a guy that’s shorter than me, I feel Amazon-like and beastly," Hughes said. "Which I know is absurd, but it’s just the conditioning I’ve been accustomed to, and it’s hard to break from the norm."
Back in 2002, ABC News conducted an unscientific experiment to explore how willing women were to date shorter men. They lined up several short men next to tall men, and asked women to choose a date. They gave the short men exceptional résumés, including those for a doctor and millionaire venture capitalist. Despite their glowing qualities, the women always chose the taller men. Some said they would only choose the shortest of the bunch if they learned the taller men were murders or child molesters.
Some relationship trends are showing a reversal of traditional gender roles, like the rise in breadwinning mothers and stay-at-home fathers, according to a study in the journal Women and Language. Yet dating in the U.S. has remained highly gender-typed in over the past 35 years, according to a 2011 study in the journal Sex Roles. Heterosexual dating followed traditional gender roles for beliefs and expectations, as well as interpersonal actions. Though there was some variation in terms of more women initiating dates, it was not widespread enough to challenge the dominant roles.
In the height study, there was not a significant relationship between endorsement of traditional gender roles and ideal height in a dating partner for men or women. Women with more traditional gender attitudes tended to be less willing to date short men (5-foot-6 or shorter), and men with similar attitudes reported they were less willing to date very tall women (those over 6 feet).
Gender differences in desire for a certain type of mate go beyond height and into other physical arenas. In a 2001 study in Sex Roles, researchers examined 547 personal ads, and classified them in terms of the writer’s preference for a thin partner, a physically fit partner, or no weight preference. They then mailed a figure rating scale to the ad writers and asked them to specify both ideal body size and acceptable body sizes for partners. They found that, despite what preference they expressed, women preferred a physically fit partner, while most men indicated that a number of body sizes would be acceptable.
A few celebrity couples, like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and Mick Jagger and L’Wren Scott, defy traditional relationship height standards, though they often receive criticism from the press. Zoe Williams discussed one way that celebrities in female-taller relationships manage to dodge negative media attention in a 2007 article in the Guardian titled “What’s wrong with tall women dating short men?”
"If the woman is tall and the man is incredibly beefy, so that their weight differential is stacked conventionally in his favor, that will raise very little remark. So, even though Nicole Kidman is substantially taller than Tom Cruise, she is so waif-like that society as a whole wasn’t that bothered by their marriage; Katie Holmes, just by virtue of her broader frame, has suffered more ‘look at your squitty husband’ mockery," Williams wrote. "Weirdly, we still require men to be able to dominate their partner physically, even though there is no place for that in a modern relationship."
In terms of compatibility, height is far outweighed by personality and lifestyle variables, Schwartz said. That hasn’t stopped the rise of niche online dating sites cashing in on height: TallFriends.com claims to be “The Number One Dating Site for Tall Singles and Tall Admirers!” Its competition includes TallWomenDating.net and FindTall.com. Traditional dating sites like Match.com also allow for people to choose their height preferences in searching for potential dates.
Cara Strobel, 22, a 5-foot-10-inch pre-med post-baccalaureate student from Rockland, Mass., said finding a taller man is non-negotiable.
"Technically I’m taller than the average American male, so there is an abundance of guys that are far too short," Strobel said. "It’s a matching issue. I would feel strange being far taller than a significant other.
"There is definitely societal pressure to date someone taller. A taller woman with a shorter man can absolutely be seen as settling by some people," she added. "I could pass up on an amazing person because of something as silly as this, but it’s something that’s there and probably won’t go away."
According to Frederick, women tend to be judged on their weight and body proportions, while men tend to be judged on their muscularity and height.
"But there is considerable diversity in what people find attractive, and the best match for each person doesn’t always come wrapped in a certain height or body type," he wrote in an email.
And as for the potential benefits of a shorter-man-taller-woman pairing? Besides those you might get from any other relationship, like companionship and love, “She could probably reach higher than he could, and get things off the top shelf,” Schwartz said with a laugh.
As much as I believe in defying traditional gender roles, I seem to be a member of the 96 percent of women who just aren’t interested. Maybe I’ll be missing out on something great by not replying to LimeGreenRobot. Or maybe there is a slightly taller man in my future.
TSC: Click on the Huffpost Women logo in order to go to the full site. The comment section about this article is interesting and red hot.