TSC: A 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.
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 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."
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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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.
Studies have demonstrated an unconscious bias against short men and many tall women feel uncomfortable standing out from the crowd. In a world designed for people of average height, those that fall outside the norm can find life hard, writes Amanda Smith.
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.