mike5f4: Was told by my lady friend that her grandsons elementary school did a presentation of made up skits. He played Shrek, and in it the kids had made up a line of short jokes as they where looking to get Lord Farkquaad. I guess my only question is" are we making any progress, or am I just spinning my wheels in trying to fight heightism? Socially accepted bigotry. The teachers must have had no objections. I was hopeful we where making some progress. I feel defeated.
TSC: So, this is how I look at it. No, I don’t think we are making the type of progress which you seek at this moment. But for me, this is all about getting us to a place where an anti-heightism movement can take shape. Right now, we are in a place where society believes in the inherent inferiority/superiority of individuals on the basis of their height - period. Heightism not an idea that is questioned openly and it’s accepted as a matter of course. Even among short people.
So, I think that the first step is simply getting shorter people to recognize the systemic and socially constructed prejudice that is heightism. Right now, “heightism” is to our society as “water” is to a fish. That is, it is so ubiquitous and familiar as to be taken for granted and simply not consciously noticed. So, I think our job is simply to wake shorter people up to the truth. To simply get them to take note and realize that something is wrong in our society.
Eventually, after enough people are aware of heightism, a critical mass will form and a movement can start. I’m not even saying that this will happen in my lifetime, but I’m saying that it’s possible. We don’t even need to focus on the majority population. If we could just enlighten a critical mass of short people, the coming change would be inevitable.
“He’s nice but he’s, like, two inches shorter than me.”
Heard that before, either from a friend or your own mouth? I am a feminist, but as a heterosexual woman I prefer to date guys who are taller than me. I’m not the only one. I’ve automatically dismissed many a potential date because he was shorter than me. Various studies say women in general prefer tall guys, and attribute it to evolutionary preference for big, healthy, protective mates.
It’s a dilemma. I don’t believe in any of that patriarchal “he-man” protector crap. I’m an independent woman and I support myself. I certainly don’t need some six-foot muscular hunk to protect me from bears.
A big part of my height preference is, of course, what I’ve unconsciously absorbed from society. I grew up with the standard Disney princess model of relationships. Disney princesses do not marry the short guy. Hetero couples where the man is shorter often get mocked. I’m ashamed that the thought “If I marry a short guy, I can’t wear heels on my wedding day” has actually gone through my mind. I don’t even plan on getting married.
Part of it is that I’m a tall, broad-shouldered person. Standing at 5’7 in my socks, I am a fearsome sight to behold when I wear heels. I’m a few inches above average for the American woman, but I’m not even that tall.
I think it’s inseparable from the narrative about how tall women are constantly made to feel insecure about their femininity (and short men made to feel insecure about their masculinity). I have heard many a tall ladyfriend say that she doesn’t like feeling “big” around a man she’s dating.
I get hit on plenty by shorter guys, so I never thought about whether men are intimidated by my size. But maybe my issue with shorter guys is that I’ve internalized the idea that I am threatening. Friedman said:
Women who are tall enough to look men square in the eye (or look down on them) are gender transgressors by their very stature. Here’s a fact that tall women learn very early in life: Men don’t like being looked down on by a woman. This reaction–men feeling threatened by my height–seems rooted in the fact that I do not fit neatly into what they think of as “woman.”
I prefer petite woman [sic] to tall ones. My dad was 5’6″ and remarried to a 6’1″ tower of horror.
I’ve only recently started to ease my romantic height requirement. The last few guys I’ve dated have actually been a tad shorter than me. I’m not being any more progressive, though. I still try to correct for the difference by wearing flats and slouching. I was actually a little pleased with this Jezebel post on “meels”, heels for men. I don’t think any of the guys in my Montana hometown are going to start wearing stilettos, but maybe this trend will trickle down until mens’ shoes in the mall will have a little extra lift, which would solve a lot of my problems.
But at what point do we draw the line between our political/social views and what we prefer sexually? Lesbian separatist feminists, like ’70s DC collective The Furies, used to argue that just being heterosexual was perpetuating the patriarchy.
And I haven’t even gotten into gay and lesbian height preferences. I only have conflicting anecdotal evidence for that–I know some gay people who prefer tall partners and some gay people who just don’t care.
I also want to make clear that no matter a man’s height, it’s still most important to me that he be smart, progressive and interesting. As they say, the brain is the biggest sex organ.
What say you, dear readers? Do you have a height requirement? And do you feel bad about it?
TSC: What is it about car advertisements and height?
So here is a new European Volkswagen ad that uses height as its primary theme. It’s somewhat similar to the infamous Honda CRV ad from ten years ago because the premise of this ad also relies on the idea that a woman must not date a shorter man. Or that tall women must find a taller man at any cost (even though its like “looking for a needle in a haystack”, as the background music asserts). It seems that the grand take-away from this ad is that a tall woman should attach herself to the first taller guy that comes along - even when he happens to drive a horribly ugly Volkswagen.
Ultimately, large corporations which try to profit off of corrosive gender norms should be discouraged from doing so in the future. Dating necessarily involves personal choices. But popular culture influences our choices and when large corporations promote ideas about what couples “should look like”, it can take us down a troubling slippery slope. For instance, here Volkswagen is casting the Male-Taller-Norm as a social virtue, thereby perpetuating it as a hallmark of cultural cohesion. One could argue that this sort of message is bad for supposedly egalitarian societies such as ours - societies which strive to maximize our freedom to choose what makes us happy without being widely shamed for those choices.
But, I’ll at least say that this ad is MUCH less offensive than the Honda CRV ad, even though it relies on the same theme. Here, like in the CRV ad, the woman is disappointed to see shorter men potentially expressing romantic interest in her. But at least in this ad, the short men aren’t made to look like immature idiots or mere hollow props for the narrative. The short men in this ad seem like actual people - like real human beings. Which is more than what can be said for the Honda CRV ad.
And here is an old critique I did of the Honda CRV ad. The real point of this video was to test some of the animation I was doing for this blog at the time, but it’s still fairly entertaining and so I’m posting it for giggles.
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: If you spend any time browsing YouTube, you’ve probably seen this pandering series of ads by soap manufacture “Dove” about beauty and self-esteem in women. All of these ads have a very watered down feminist message which is use to sell beauty products to the masses. And this particular ad titled “Real Beauty Sketches” is probably the worst yet.
As many people across the internet have already pointed out, none of Dove’s messages are actually feminist in any way. Dove is simply being vaguely “pro women” in a Madison Avenue sense. Notice that Dove does not attempt to challenge the cultural idea which ties female appearance to their intrinsic social and self worth because exposing this social construct would mean less business for Dove. Instead, they simply affirm gender norms and try to reassure their audience that they too satisfy those norms. In other words, instead of asking “why does female beauty matter so much in our society?”, Dove says “all women can be beautiful”.
If you still aren’t convinced of Dove’s disingenuousness, please note that Dove is wholly owned by its parent company Unilever. And, Unilever also owns Axe; the makers of Axe body spray and other male grooming products. You may be familiar with their advertising campaigns featuring women as props for male adolescent sexual fantasies.
But, there is also a height connection that we should study as well. So while Dove is attempting to make women “feel good” about themselves by affirming social standards of beauty, they are also affirming other gender norms (related to height) in order to relate to their female audience.
Take a look at the last few moments of this latest Dove ad. Listen to the music, listen to the words, and watch what is being depicted.
Here we see a faceless tall man hugging one of the women from the ad - her face snuggled into his chest as if she was a little girl. I assume that this is what represents female comfort and safety in Dove’s world - a tall man with no face. And notice the voice-over, “We [as women] should spend more time appreciating the things that we do like”… such as tall men with no faces.
I suspect that Dove chose to hide the face of the man in this ad so that their target audience could picture any tall man in this scenario and imagine themselves in the place of the female character doing the voice-over - comforted by her daddy boyfriend.
And don’t be mistaken. It’s no accident that Dove used this as the LAST thing you see in the ad. It’s the complete takeaway from their disingenuous message:
“Don’t feel bad about how you look ladies, because you’re all beautiful. And don’t forget about tall men. ‘Cause, at the end of the day, it’s really all about what men think about you. And by men, we mean tall men.”
TSC: So, as you may or may not know, I am a fan of AMC’s hit television show, “Mad Men”. I watch the show religiously and I’m always impressed with their character development and obsessive attention to detail. And, as the newest season is being aired in the United States, I am going back to previous seasons and re-watching them on Netflix.
If you’re a fan of the show as well, then you know that each of the characters have personality traits which have pretty much defined them from Episode One of Season One. Don Draper, the silent and mysterious protagonist; Pete Campbell, the entitled and ambitious junior executive; Peggy Olson, the seemingly naive young woman making her mark in the Big City; etc.
And of course, one of the most beloved characters on the show has to be that of Roger Sterling - a silver haired playboy from a privileged background whose father founded the advertising agency around which the show is based. As the series runs on, we learn that Sterling’s suave and confident demeanor hides a vulnerable and insecure psyche - molded by the fires of high expectations set by his father and family.
So, if you’re a fan of the series, check out Season One, Episode Four entitled “New Amsterdam”. At about the 35 minute mark, you’ll see the start of a scene where Don Draper (6’1”) and Roger Sterling (6’0”) are about to see Bert Cooper at his office. Now, if you know the series, you already know that Cooper doesn’t allow people to wear shoes in his office. So, both Don and Roger take their shoes off before entering. That’s when we discover that Roger Sterling has been wearing shoe lifts this entire time and he is really only about 5’10”.
As I’ve said before, nothing in “Mad Men” is an accident. I think the writers were trying to give us an early glimpse into Sterling’s psyche and mindset by allowing us to gleam that brief piece of personal information. It happens so quickly that I didn’t even notice it when I watched the episode live back in 2007.
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.