TSC: So, I don’t want to say too much about what happens in the documentary, but I will tell you what happens in the first 10 minutes. Ostensibly, the film is about a young man who meets a woman in medical school who turns out to be completely insane. We quickly discover that the subject of the documentary (Andrew) is dead, and that his girlfriend killed him after he tried to break up with her. But that’s only a surface reading of what’s going on.
One can also analyze the events of this film from a heightism perspective. One could even argue that the subject of the film would possibly still be alive if not for heightism. And when I say “heightism”, I don’t mean it in the sense of “people made fun of him” (though there is some indication that some people did). I mean it in the sense of a cultural zeitgeist which devalues short men and limits their options and opportunities through social norms and microaggressions.
What is implied but never explicitly explored is that Andrew is a rather pudgy short man who would often berate himself over his height (a friend says that Andrew would often call himself a “fat little man”). He falls in love with a childhood friend who is a bit taller than him (who might be his best friend’s sister - this isn’t clear - oh, and his best friend is the filmmaker). At one point they are even engaged to be married. But, it doesn’t work out and she leaves him for a tall man under mysterious circumstances (of which we are only given polite hints). Andrew then falls into a depression spiral and ends up meeting this crazy old woman while rebounding from the breakup (he was 28 and she was 40 with three kids). And yes, she ends up shooting him in the head, chest, and buttocks - five times. And this after dozens of people rattle on about how Andrew was such an amazing person.
The tumultuous Democratic primary race for New York’s first new mayor in 12 years is nearing the finish line. There are only a few days left until Democratic voters take to the polls on Tuesday, and after the implosion of Anthony Weiner‘s campaign and a poll that has Bill de Blasio surging to a commanding lead, the city’s public advocate currently looks like he has the advantage with voters.
And it appears there’s another advantage for de Blasio: He’s tall. And I mean really tall–the kind of tall that makes writers who profile him use it as a metaphor for his high-minded liberalism. At 6-foot-5, de Blasio towers over his competitors. The photos from the debate Sept. 3 say it all: de Blasio is at least a head taller than his opponents, and his position in the center of the room only accentuated his height.
Does that matter? Maybe not so much in New York. The city has had its share of short-yet-powerful mayors, and New York mayors’ height has famously been questioned in the past. But in general, a tall stature usually–if subconsciously–confers an advantage when it comes to being picked as a leader.
We’d like to think the measure of a person’s body matters little when it comes to measuring his or her capacity to lead. But plenty of research confirms that “height-ism” really does exist. One recent study showed that 58 percent of presidents elected were taller than their opponents (the researchers threw out 11 elections for lack of data or height differences), and that 67 percent of the winners of the popular vote were taller. A 2011 study by psychologists at Texas Tech University found that when asked to draw the “ideal national leader” alongside an “average citizen,” 64 percent of study participants drew the leader as the taller figure. The rationale is simple, the authors say: We choose tall leaders because of caveman politics. It’s evolutionary forces at work. (Emphasis Added)
TSC: Why is it that anytime we read an article about heightism in the mainstream press, we find a disclaimer about “evolutionary forces”? Presumably, the purpose of reminding us about evolution in a conversation about social bias merely serves to separate heightism from “serious” forms of discrimination. However, racism and certainly sexism are also holdovers from our evolutionary past - an example of cavemen politics.
But you would never read an article about the gender pay gap with a comment which reads “We choose male leaders because of caveman politics. It’s evolutionary forces at work.”
TSC: So, there is apparently this website called "Kid’s World" which serves as a resource for kids to have fun and learn about growing up and other kid stuff. Check out this Kidsworld’s special report on height:
Even though men are generally taller than women, have you noticed a lot of the girls in your class are taller than the guys? That’s because puberty hits earlier for girls. Girls reach their growth peak between 11 and 12, but guys grow fastest between 13 and 14. Even though that’s when your body is growing its fastest, that doesn’t mean it stops once you pass 12 or 14. Girls and guys can keep growing well into their late teens.
Blame The Parents
What affects height? Is it nutrition? Exercise? Sure, food and physical activity are important factors that determine your height, but a lot goes back to heredity. That means if your parents are short, odds are you aren’t going to be the next Shaq. Still, malnutrition can stunt your growth, so make sure you keep chowing down on chard! Sleep is also important. If you don’t snag enough shut eye, you might not reach your full height potential. Your body does its most growing at night, so if you want to add some inches, start counting those sheep.
What Is Heightism?
In America, the average height of an adult man is 5’9” and the average woman is 5’4”. Even so, lots of men and women feel pressure to be taller and face discrimination because of their height. Traditionally, husbands have been taller than their wives, but today there are more and more couples with the man shorter than the woman. Girls are also feeling pressure to be taller. Very few woman can meet the tall standard set by the Amazonian models that walk the runways, but the average woman still feels the need to strap on some heels thanks to the influence of the fashion world.
I’m Too Short/Too Tall!
Do you think you’re too short for the girl you like to notice you? Do you worry your legs aren’t long enough to look like the model in the magazine? Throw away that negative thinking and embrace what you’ve got. If you think you’re too short or too tall it’s time to own your height. Besides, some girls are really into short guys. And a lot of guys love looking up to a tall girl. People come in all shapes and sizes and different people are attracted to different physical attributes. Own your height and project confidence—you can’t go wrong.
TSC: So, while this article is far from perfect, it’s great that a site targeted at kids would introduce them to the concept of Heightism. We need more of this.
More parents of children who are short but otherwise healthy are turning to human growth hormone to give their children a leg up, literally. Dr. Nancy Snyderman talks with a panel of experts about where to draw the line on medical solutions for being short.
TSC: Notice the music playing during the opening credits of this clip. This is supposed to be a serious topic, and yet they decided to play music in the background which almost makes the topic seem like one big joke.
But, having said that, I will concede that the actual substance of the video was pretty interesting and informative. These pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyist convinced the FDA to change its guidelines in the year 2000 so that they could market HGH to the parent’s of children who are perfectly healthy. The cosmetic use of HGH has skyrocketed since then and has become a billion dollar industry. This doesn’t bode well for the future. The solution here is to change our society to make us more tolerant of a wide range of heights - not to medically alter our children in a bid to make them taller. That merely shifts the perception of “tall” and “short”. But it doesn’t change heightism. If anything, the widespread use of these drugs may make heightism much worse.
We may be entering a time in the very near future where short stature is considered a disease unto itself. It seems that we make progress on one type of social ill and then lose progress on another front. It wasn’t long ago that homosexuality was considered a medical disease. That changed for good reason. But now, it seems that short stature may soon be considered a pathogen as well.
TSC: The young lady in this ad is so adorable. Sure, these kids are running a scam which steals money from desperate and confused men and women who want to become taller so that they can avoid heightism - but, at least they’re trying to start a business.
So, if you read this blog, you already know that any product that claims to make you taller is a scam. The only way to become taller after your bones fuse is “leg-lengthening surgery” and that practice is extremely ill-advised (to put it mildly).
But more importantly, you shouldn’t even feel like you need to be taller in the first place. The issue we should be focusing on is heightism. Without heightism, height would be socially meaningless.
And finally, to these scam artists: if you want to be taken more seriously, don’t film your ad in what is clearly a dorm room. The girl is super cute but you guys could have at least used a better backdrop. Next time, film in the library in front of a stack of books or something. Again, what you’re doing is deeply immoral (obtaining money through fraud), but we can at least applaud your entrepreneurial spirit. More young people should try starting their own businesses.
(Of course, all of this depends on whether or not these are really just college kids doing this. If these are adult scam artists, then I take even the softest praise back. Also, don’t go to their site and give them the clicks they’re probably looking for. Even I haven’t been to that site, and don’t plan on going.)
TSC: Virgin Mobile ad which invites its viewers to laugh at the short male body. Here, a short man is introduced for comedic effect when they could have just as easily used an average height person to convey the same idea. In fact, it would have been more consistent for them to have used an average height person because this character is supposed to represent “regular” broadband. However, I guess they thought that a pudgy short man would be more visually amusing.
It’s also surprising that they chose weight lifting as a metaphor instead of running when they’ve got Usain Bolt as a spokesperson.