The Social Complex

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



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  • July 8, 2014 4:53 pm

    Is heightism as unacceptable as racism?

    House of Commons Speaker John Bercow asks if heightism is acceptable

    7 July 2014 Last updated at 23:59 BST

    David Cameron made a joke that referred to the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow as one of the Seven Dwarfs.

    Mr Bercow, who is 5ft 6in tall, has questioned why it is somehow acceptable to criticise people over their height, when attacking someone for their skin colour or sexuality is widely accepted as wrong.

    BBC Newsnight's Stephen Smith reports.

    TSC: This time, the BBC proves that heightism is one of the last celebrated forms of widespread bigotry left in the world.  The broadcast doesn’t take the issue seriously until the part about tall people facing social stigma.  Whenever the issue of heightism was brought up otherwise, one can hear Randy Newman’s offensive ballad “Short People” playing in the background. 

    Then, for no reason, the piece claims that shorter people are less intelligent than taller people and that smarter people tend to mate with tall people.  So, instead of addressing the social prejudice, the BBC chooses to partake in it and cite out-of-context studies to justify height bigotry. 

    And, in the final analysis, the BBC implies that height bigotry is morally acceptable because height is not a protected class under UK law.  One wonders if homophobia and bigotry against gays was also morally acceptable when it was perfectly legal to discriminate against gay people in the United Kingdom? 

  • July 7, 2014 9:36 pm

    Why I'm Dating a Shorter Man

    TSC: An interesting, if ultimately unsatisfying look at the Male-Taller-Norm through the eyes of a tall woman. 

  • July 6, 2014 5:22 pm

    Why Being Short Can Help in Soccer

    TSC: This article on the supposed advantages of short stature in soccer was pretty interesting (if not patronizing) until I came across the following statement:

    Short players might have an easier time overall, too, because studies show tall players get called for fouls by referees more frequently— potentially because people associate height with aggression.

    TSC: Wut?

    Why can’t it just be the simplest explanation - that taller players commit more fouls? With the widespread “Napoleon Complex” myth being so common, it makes no sense to assume that people associate tallness with aggression.

    This is like that study which said that shorter NBA referees call more fouls. Instead of saying that perhaps shorter referees notice more fouls, the editors at Deadspin concluded that shorter referees had a chip on their shoulders.  (disclaimer: I couldn’t find the original article)

    It seems that any study done about height will find a way to paint shorter people as lacking or defective and taller people as gifted. If a study came out showing that shorter males masturbate more often than taller males, they’d conclude that this is because shorter males have less access to women and so they more often relieve their sexual frustrations alone. However, if a study came out showing that taller males masturbate more often that shorter males, they’d conclude that this is because taller males are more viral and have a greater sexual libido than shorter males.

    Whatever is needed to satisfy the researcher’s cognitive dissonance.

  • June 27, 2014 10:44 pm
    Born in the wrong century.
(Thanks to /u/Kode47) View high resolution

    Born in the wrong century.

    (Thanks to /u/Kode47)

  • June 21, 2014 9:35 am

    TSCA MUST WATCH video!  A superstar in the leg-lengthening community who advocated the procedure, and went from 5’3” to 5’7”, now regrets his decision.  In this video, he recants his support for leg-lengthening and picks up the banner of social justice instead. 

  • May 21, 2014 2:01 am

    TSC: Heightism as a form of gender prejudice is becoming more of a mainstream concept. 

  • May 19, 2014 9:39 pm

    Gender Swap of “So did the Fat Lady” scene from LOUIE

    TSC: I’ll leave the commentary to others, but one person on reddit decided to swap the genders from the much praised “So did the Fat Lady” speech featured in Episode 3, Season 4 of LOUIE on FX. 

    First, watch the actual clip as it aired on American television.  Then read the transcript of the same scene with the genders and subject matter adjusted for clarity.  Does it still seem sympathetic?   Why or why not?

    The original:

    The modified version:

    “You know what is the meanest thing you can say to short guy?”

    ‘You’re not short.’

    "And the worst part is I’m not even supposed to do this: To tell anyone how bad it sucks because it’s too much for people. I mean, a short girl? She can talk into the microphone and say she can’t get a date, or clothes to fit, or is difficult to kiss a tall guy. And it’s adorable. But if I say something, they tell me I have a short man complex. I mean, can I just say it? I’m short. It sucks to be a short man."

    "Can people just let me say it? It sucks. It really sucks. And I’m going to go ahead and say it. It’s your fault. Look – I may even like you, you may even be a nice girl — so, sorry. I’m picking you. On behalf of all the short guys, I’m making you represent all the girls. Why do you hate us so much? What is it about the basics of human happiness – you know, feeling attractive, feeling loved, having girls chasing after us – that’s just not in the cards for us? Nope, not for us. How is that fair? And why am I supposed to just accept it? You can say that is only about confidence, but come on. If it was just "having confidence" then girls would say yes when I ask them out. I mean, come on, be honest here."

    "You know what’s funny? I flirt with girls all the time. And I mean, the great looking ones, like the really high caliber? They flirt right back. No problem. Because they know their status will never be questioned. But girls like you never flirt with me because you get scared that maybe you should be with a guy like me. And why not? You know, if you were standing over there looking at us, you know what you’d see? That we totally match. We’re actually a great couple together. And yet, you would never date a boy like me. Have you ever date a boy was shorter than you? Have you?"

    "Have you ever dated a short guy. Have you ever kissed a short guy? Have you ever wooed a short guy? Have you ever held hands with a short guy? Have you ever walked down the street in the light of day, holding hands, with a short guy like me?"

    "Go ahead. Hold my hand. What do you think is going to happen? You think you will be less feminine in the hands of a short man? You know what the sad thing is? It’s all I want. I don’t even need a girlfriend or wife. All I want is to hold hands with a nice girl, and walk and talk."

    "And, thing is, I have no control or choice over my height, and never will."

  • May 19, 2014 9:13 pm

    Second study concludes that the Male-Taller-Norm is cultural; not innate to humans


    Preferences for waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), sexual dimorphism in stature (SDS), and leg-to-body ratio (LBR) have been investigated predominantly in Western cultures. The aim of the present study was to examine the preferences of a relatively isolated, indigenous population (i.e., Yali of Papua, inhabiting the mountainous terrain east of the Baliem valley). A total of 53 women and 52 men participated in the study. Study sites differed in distance from Wamena, the biggest settlement in the region, and frequency of tourists’ visits. We found that the mate preferences among Yali men and women for WHR, LBR, and SDS were not exactly the same as in Western samples. Yali preferred low women’s WHR and relatively high women’s (but not men’s) LBR. Women’s and men’s ratings of each SDS set were similar, which suggests that the “male-taller norm” in Yali tribe was far weaker than in Western cultures. Additionally, the observed preferences were modified by contact with different cultures, age, and accessibility of food resources (pig possession). Our results suggest that human norms of attractiveness are malleable and can change with exposure to different environments and conditions.

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  • April 23, 2014 5:32 pm

    TSC: Casual heightism in support of Amputee Awareness Month (first 40 seconds of the clip).  Notice how comfortable and unquestioned his convictions are when it comes to his desire to be taller.  So, this isn’t very offensive, but it is remarkable just how “normal” heightism is in our everyday lives.  It’s virtually never questioned.