"As a tall woman, I get both sides. In my teens and 20s I felt like the weirdo being out with a group of my girlfriends, and was definitely passed over by guys for the more average-height girls. I hated the comments on my height when I was 12 and already 5’6” (I’m 5’10” now). Now that I’m in my 30s, though, and I’ve been in the working world for a while, it seems like my height is an asset. I may sometimes still feel awkward, but I think in professional situations I stand out in a good way. I notice that some people sometimes defer to me as a leader; not sure if it’s all about my height, but it can’t hurt. That’s the difference between short people and tall people in terms of treatment, I think. We all feel awkward and awful when we’re very young, but as we mature, it becomes OK to be tall. Not so for being short. It really isn’t fair."
TSC: Posting this site about being a tall woman. Heightism can also affect tall people and the tone of this site seems anti-heightist…so I’m linking to it. Plus, she has posted a YouTube video from someone who successfully uses humor to highlight rude comments tall women apparently have to deal with daily.
The psychological experience of power makes people feel taller than they are, according to research by ILR School associate professor of organizational behavior Jack Goncalo and a Washington University colleague.
“Although a great deal of research has shown that physically imposing individuals are more likely to acquire power, this work is the first to show that the powerful may actually feel taller than they are,” Goncalo and Michelle Duguid write in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science.
So a 5-foot-4-inch woman might actually sprout an inch or two in her own mind when she’s having an empowered moment. In other words, there is actually a physical experience that goes along with feeling powerful.
TSC: Don’t you mean, “mental experience”? Where is the physical experience? They’re not saying that a 5’4” woman would momentarily become 5’5” during an empowering moment.
Three experiments with 266 American men and women confirmed for Goncalo and Duguid that there is a relationship between feelings of power and one’s self-perception of height.
“Using different manipulations of power and measures of perceived height, we found that people literally perceived themselves as taller when they occupied a more powerful position,” they write.
Is that perhaps why, Goncalo and Duguid wonder, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg referred to Gulf of Mexico oil spill victims as “small people?”
TSC: Am I the only one who finds this ridiculous?
Research — included assigning one’s height to a video game avatar —established a starting point for exploring reciprocity between the psychological and physical experiences of power, Goncalo said.
He added that the research begs a number of questions: Do short people attempt to capture power by physically elevating themselves above others?
Would it be possible to psychologically empower people by giving them an office on the top floor?
Can feeling powerful make leaders less able to feel empathy and relate to the “little people” because they literally feel bigger?
TSC: Huuu? Hold up. This implies that taller people lack empathy for people who are shorter than them. Is that true?
Is it possible that BP’s CEO gave us an insider’s view on the experience of power?
Maybe the powerful really do feel bigger than the rest of us.
Mary Catt is assistant director of communications at the ILR School.
Tall Girls – I’m one of them. I’m a filmmaker and 6’1”/186 cm tall. Life up here is different.
Every pediatrician has a growth chart on the wall where even children can see whether they are normal or not. We live in a society in which those around us are continually letting us know whether we fit in or not.
In this film, tall girls and women show how they’re coming to terms with their height. Between tears and laughter, one can’t help but fall in love with them as they bare their souls to show how difficult yet liberating living outside the norm can be.
TSC: Not exactly sure what this is, but I’m posting it anyway because it may have something to do with heightism. Though I doubt it. It appears that Arianne Cohen is involved in its production some how. For the unaware, Ms. Cohen is a “tall activist” who seems to have little to say about actual heightism and more to say about how tall people should be proud of the social privileges which they tend to enjoy.
(the above image comes from the documentary’s website and probably could have been appropriately captioned “This Is Sparta”)