TSC: So, VICE (which normal does pretty interesting articles and very excellent foreign journalism) posted an article about a dwarf German Shepard named “Tiger”. But that alone isn’t interesting enough for me to talk about it here. What makes it interesting is the human height shaming the author gratuitously inserted into an otherwise informative piece about dogs and dwarfism.
Cuteness aside, German Shepherd dwarves come with various health issues. They face infertility, a shortened life span, and problems with growing skin, teeth and adult fur. They can also become overtly anxious or aggressive. It’s pretty hard to sell a puppy destined for health issues and small man syndrome, so most breeders just euthanize the dwarves a few weeks after birth. This is the fate that Darien Northcote’s vet recommended after her pedigree dog gave birth to six puppies in 2011.
TSC: Small man syndrome? I thought we were talking about dogs? Did the author really need to use a gendered body-shaming slur against humans to describe the dog’s temperament? And here is the kicker (as pointed out by a fellow /r/short subscriber or reddit)
JohnGM: [I] Just read the link within that article that talked about the various health issues and no where in that list of health issues does it say anything about the dogs being overtly anxious or more aggressive like they claimed in the article. Not saying they were wrong btw, I don’t know I’m not a vet, just pointing out that the link they used for the possible health issues didn’t include those two issues.
Is there a modern prejudice in our society that is as widely celebrated as heightism? And I don’t just mean “accepted”. I mean, celebrated.
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.
Short men have to deal with an enormous stigma when it comes to romance.
I wonder if passing on short men as potential romantic partners—really, if sexual attraction overall—borders on a moral issue. I always cringe when a person says something that rules out an entire category of people, especially when someone rejects another in a flippant, auto-pilot fashion. “Yeah, sorry,” you can imagine someone saying, “I’ve just never been attracted to short men.” While so many women report this preference, I rarely hear any of them self-monitoring as they do so. In fact, you’d think one would ask herself, Is that fair of me? Is that being mean? Could I be ruling out an entire group of men who could make great partners?
As a psychologist, I don’t believe it is mean to deny a romantic chance to entire categories of people, but I do think people should listen to their own reasons why and ask if that narrow window of preference marks the kind of person they want to be. For example, if you see yourself as an open-minded person, you should have an open mind when it comes to dating to the point that you would truly be open to dating a wide range of men: tall, short, funny, and so on.
Now, my personal belief which stems from my education as a psychologist, my clinical practice, and my own life experience is that people hide behind the belief that sexual attraction works in a prewired way. “I’m just not attracted to Asians,” a female social worker I work with said to me yesterday as I discussed my new article. ”It’s nothing personal,” she said flatly. (It didn’t seem to occur to her that her upbringing in the whitest, least Asian town in Connecticut had anything to do with it.)
A call to arms against the last acceptable dating prejudice.
TSC: Full disclose - I was actually interviewed for this article, but nothing I said made it into the final draft (except for maybe a link or two). However, the article turned out pretty good. It’s about the best she could have done on the topic when writing a piece for a men’s magazine.
Maybe I’ll post the full transcript of that interview one day.