On Tuesday’s Phillip DeFranco show, Phil proceeds to use a bunch of heightist slander against Kim Jong Un. Now Kim is a horrible person, but that is irrelevant to his height. It is offensive that short people everywhere should be compared with him.
Normally Phil is a pretty reasonable guy though; perhaps he is just ignorant? If any of his viewers could send him an email asking him to consider how his worlds affect people more carefully, it would be appreciated.
Relevant part starts at 5:33
TSC: No offense to the reader who submitted this post; but I don’t understand why anyone would watch this guy’s YouTube show. It’s not like he gives any in-depth analysis of current events. All he does his spout common knowledge and conventional wisdom.
I will however say that this clip is good at illustrating how accepted height bigotry is in our everyday ideas and conversations. Notice how he feigns sensitivity to matters of social justice when it comes to race (where, earlier in the clip, he admits that he’s never had a problem with police officers because he is a white male), but then goes on to call Kim Jong Un “a little bitch of a man with a Napoleon Complex”.
Those slurs rolled off his tongue like butter. So you can be assured that he sees nothing wrong with them because “hey, I wasn’t talking about YOU”. But, he wouldn’t go on his show and start using other types of slurs and then say “hey…why are you all upset…I wasn’t talking about YOU”. This is why people of good conscious need to wake up and challenge this prejudice. Especially shorter people.
I am five foot six-and-a-half. That’s how tall I am. There are five feet, and six-and-a-half inches of Charlie Duncan in between the floor and the top of my head. That is how much me there is.
This has generally never been a problem for me psychologically. I was a bit put out by it as a boy, being a little bit less tall than the other boys, but I’ve always made up for it with a certain amount of intellectual confidence. I also try to be as pleasant a person as I can be, and I think on the whole people like me. Additionally, I’m good at what I do, and this helps. So my height is rarely an issue. Plus, I mean – I’m not even that short.
So, I’d like to say that was all there was to it.
Unfortunately it isn’t. Tonight, for example, I was invited by a friend – a good friend, I think, one I like and admire a lot – to come over to her house for the evening. She had another friend over, too, who was attractive and nice and apparently single-ish, and I got the impression that my friend was trying to get us to meet each other, at least partly to see if we would get on well.
The problem was that my friend kept on and on, over and over again, about me being short. As if it was a problem.
I have no idea why she did this, because this friend is a kind and brilliant person who has always been perfectly lovely in every other sense, and I know that she will be absolutely mortified to read this and realise she’s upset me at all. And I don’t think she meant it maliciously or intended it to be harmful. But it was still kind of uncomfortable.
At one point we were even doing the ridiculous childhood thing of all standing up and measuring our respective heights against each other to see how tall we were, with the result being that I was, by about three-quarters of an inch, not quite as tall as this girl I had just been introduced to.
We all got on quite well otherwise; but later in the evening, when this girl went to the bathroom, my friend whispered to me, “You really fancy her, don’t you?”
“Well, I don’t know…she’s quite attractive I suppose…” I said.
“You’re too short for her,” my friend said. And my heart sank…
TSC: Mother of God. Everyone should read this link because it boggles the mind. The TL;DR here is that a sensitive short guy is set up by a female “friend” with another girl. His friend then goes on to humiliate him about his height in front of this other girl he just met. And throughout the whole thing, the OP continues to refer to this horrible individual as a “friend”.
This is a good example as to why passive aggressive behavior is ineffective. He needed to verbally shut down the abuse after the first inappropriate mention of his height. Instead, he allowed himself to be humiliated without attempting to defend himself or challenge her heightism at all.
I will, however, admit that his blog entry is well written, and his analysis of heightism as a systemic social ill was quite elegant.
P.S. - his “friend’s” rationale for treating him like shit makes absolutely no sense.
“Apparently the girl she was introducing me to had made a remark previously about how she thought she could only find tall men attractive; and my friend said she knew someone who could make her think differently about that..”.
Heightism is everywhere and short men have disadvantages in society. But a recent post on the Social Complex about a short man going from skinny to absolutely ripped in just a few months got me thinking; what advantages do short men have? Let’s look on the bright side:
- Short men can build muscle faster than taller men
- Short men age slower physically and tend to have more youthful looks
- Short men have a lower center of gravity and tend to be better dancers and martial artists
- A successful short man is viewed with more respect, as he “overcame the odds”
That’s what I got off the top of my head. What is missing?
As a short man I am all too familiar with the discrimination and overall acceptance of heightism. It really bothers me to no end. I stumbled upon this blog last night and read through a chunk of articles and it’s nice to know I’m not the only one out there. But I got to thinking about offspring and whether attempting maximum male/female height would be somewhat contradictory to the overall premise of this blog, defeating heightism. If there is nothing wrong with being short, then perhaps it is superficial to aim for a 6”+ boy? Wouldn’t you be perpetrating the heightism even more by intentionally doing everything in your power to make sure the child is tall? On the other hand, everyone on here knows as well as I do that taller people have it easier (sad but true), and wouldn’t you want the best for your child?
Just curious to hear some feedback on this fluttering thought…
TSC: Before I give you my answer, let’s watch this deleted scene from the 1997 SciFi classic film, Gattaca:
The major problem with any sort of medical treatment of children for cosmetic reasons is that it creates a sort of “collective action problem” in reverse. A collective action problem is one where doing a thing would benefit the group but would be too costly for the individuals of that group to accomplish alone. In Economic theory, when such a problem occurs, the Government should step in to fund or encourage the action for the good of society. However, with things like HGH injections to increase height or designer babies (more broadly), the problem is reversed. In those situations, having parents influence their children’s height or other variables would be costly for group (society and humanity), but good for the individual.
Medical cosmetic treatment for short stature is bad for society for a number of moral, social, and even physiological reasons. But, for each individual child, the benefits of taller height would be a social advantage (assuming that access to the drugs were relatively rare). So, I understand why parents would want to inject their child with HGH for cosmetic reasons - even when the long term side effects are unknown.
But luckily for us, HGH doesn’t work that well in children who are not hormone deficient, and so most of this is purely hypothetical.
But, let’s assume that we do one day produce an effective drug which could guarantee taller children. Under such a scenario, I would be against it because I believe that normalizing such a practice would make heightism even worse. It would turn short stature into a pathology instead of simply a difference in normal human physiology. Also, we can be assured that the “treatments” would not be applied equally across genders. What we would see is a future of very tall boys and much shorter girls (relatively speaking). I don’t see how that’s good for our society either.
So the potential consequences from normalizing the use of HGH for children would be a future (a) where short stature is regarded as an illness, (b) where there is greater gender dimorphism in our society, and (c) where there is less body diversity which could potentially lead to other unintended consequences of a medical nature.
So because we have this “inverse collective action problem”, the Government should have been moving to limit the use of cosmetic HGH injections for kids. Instead, thanks to the pharmaceutical lobby, they went in the opposite direction. In the 1990’s, the Government made it legal to treat children who don’t even have a Human Growth Hormone deficiency with HGH injections if their adult height was projected to be under a certain threshold. The reasoning given was that a short person’s (read: boy’s) life would be so awful in our society that it would be like having a disease. And so the rules were changed.
Of course, the real reason for the change was that big drug companies like more money.
So now we have this thing that is good for the individual, but bad for society, and the U.S. Government is encouraging it where it should have been limiting it.
I don’t know if you know about the online comic strip Sinfest.com, a sort-of dark humor comic, but it features a side character who is a bookworm, smart, geek. His storyline has him getting together with a modelesque devil who was afraid she couldn’t be with him because she’s a devil. At this point, they’re together.
They’re not major characters, but it has been a favorite storyline from the strip. It just so happens that she is taller than him, but I don’t believe there has ever been any mention of height. I’d like to see storylines like so where height isn’t mentioned at all.
TSC: This was a recent reader submission by “AmPa”. I am posting his account without edit, but I’ll have a brief comment afterwords.
I am a short man, that I learned from the few girls in my life that made an exception to their usual taste, looked past the height, and allowed themselves to be attracted to me. In doing so, they also made it a point to periodically remind me of the benevolent and high-minded exception they had made. A few of these amazing women have come and gone in my life. In their wake, I became a shorter man, not literally, but in my own eyes. The tape measure said I was 5’6”. To me, it used to be just a number, as meaningless as the fact that my eye width is 3 cm or whatever. The statistics said the average height is 5’10”. That was also an inconsequential number in my view, as irrelevant to my daily life as the statistic that says the average bumble bee is yellow in color.
But these women educated me about height, and its importance in the social order. There is something about someone you deeply care about, to whom you expose all your vulnerabilities, turning around and saying with a sarcastic chuckle “I’m not sure how I fell for you; you are too short”… The accumulation of these statements, it tears down and buckles the healthiest of self-esteem which before had withstood a decade of bullying. So I went from not giving a shit about my height - up to my mid 20s - to an adult that for the first time looked in a mirror and said to himself “you are short”; for the first time I fully grasped what everyone truly meant by the adjective “short” applied to a man: “weak”, “feminine”, “stupid”, … that day was a dark day that took me the next three years to get back to the place I was before.
I was eventually restored. It took some work, but eventually, I was no longer “short” in the judgement of the one person whose opinion on the matter was most critical: myself. Unfortunately, it did require that I abandon all romantic pursuits.
Ladies, I don’t blame you. My deepest desire was always to have a family and children. But your collective vote has been cast, and who am I to argue against sexual preferences and fight against the currents that dictate social status and modern rules of sexual selection. Everything has a price I suppose, and this is one I had to pay so that I may continue to contribute to society in positive ways that didn’t require the chronic demolition of my dignity. Fast forward 6 months later, this morning I literally became shorter.
At the medical clinic:
Medical assistant: “So you are 5’4”… “
Me: “Um, what? It should be 5’6”… Can we try again?
Medical assistant “Yep…. and it still says 5’4”.”
Me: “Huh, I guess I have been over-estimating my height all these years by two inches. I’m actually 5’4”!!”
I walked out of the clinic today, with my head held up higher than ever before. I had just grown 2” shorter, instantly. It felt amazing. Light as a feather, with less height to burden me for the rest of my life. I have never felt better about my stature.
TSC: Thank you for sharing this with the blog. I think a lot of short guys can relate to your experiences. However, let me just say that I think your coping mechanism is a bit lacking. The way to deal with a heightist society is not to withdraw from it. At one point in your submission, you say ” I was no longer “short” in the judgement of the one person whose opinion on the matter was most critical: myself. Unfortunately, it did require that I abandon all romantic pursuits”.
First of all, you are short. And you have to make yourself realize that there is nothing wrong with that. I’d even say that it should be something you should learn to take pride in.
But what’s more, you absolutely should not simply give up on all women. Yes, the statistics are gruesome, but people are individuals. You should give individuals the benefit of the doubt and assume that they aren’t judging you negatively because of your height - until they prove you wrong. You can’t begin to challenge a prejudice until you are willing to interact with people. A social prejudice requires a social response.
But, I’m really glad you’re in a good place now. Thanks for following the blog. And NEVER give up.
TSC: I just received this very nice message from the AtEyeLevel blog. Appreciate it.
I want to give a special thanks to you Geoff and your blog. Your writings, investigations, dissertations and case studies have inspired me to become a bit of a height activist, but with a bit more of an edge to really challenge people’s thoughts. You inspired me to start my AtEyeLevel blog here on Tumblr.
Within a few weeks we’ve managed to acquire lots of followers by going on the light side of extreme to make people aware by pointing out the absurdities and hurt that Heightism may cause.
My blog is like yours, but also deals with pop culture, fashion, dating because while Heightism isn’t that, it AFFECTS that, so I just wanted to thank you and hope that you keep on doing what you do!
TSC: No, I had never seen this article before. Thanks for it. I found it very interesting because it is clearly meant to be funny, but I can’t really tell if it’s supposed to be satire or serious. It’s obvious that the author wants us to believe that he is joking but too much research went into the piece and some of the points are clearly well thought out. He uses silly words to describe heightism and he utilizes some hyperbole (such as using the word “oppression”), but I’m not convinced that he isn’t making some serious points in the only way he can without being judged negatively.
Heightism is such a ubiquitous social prejudice that challenging it is stigmatized and those who speak against it are generally regarded negatively or ridiculed. If the author is a professional or someone who generally values some level of social success, his only way of expressing his views would be in a humor piece such as this one.