TSC: A popular meme in the American television sitcom is the short male loser character whose primary role is that of comic relief. These characters are not usually the lead characters in the show, but instead are introduced from time to time so that the audience can laugh at their misfortune. I was alerted to one such character recently in a show that I’d head of but never watched.
King of Queens was an American sitcom that originally ran on CBS from 1998 to 2007. It doesn’t matter what the show is about, but just know that the main character is named Doug, his wife is named Carrie, and the short guy comic relief character is a friend of Doug’s named Spencer. Check out the Wikipedia description of Spencer.
Spencer “Spence” Olchin (played by Patton Oswalt) is another friend of Doug’s, who is often viewed as the nerd of the group. Not only is he very paranoid, he also takes an interest in science fiction, fantasy movies, and comic book conventions—interests that his friends do not share. Spence’s birthday is February 14. He is of Albanian heritage, and works as a subway token collector. He moved to the New York area from rural West Virginia. In one episode, he is a “house boy” for Deacon and Kelly. His character is based largely on the actor who plays him, Patton Oswalt. Spence demonstrates intelligence and capability in a variety of pursuits, but he is haunted by his family history, his domineering and unstable mother, and his inability to assert himself with others. Numerous episodes mention that Spence is asthmatic (a burden he shares with Danny) and allergic to peanuts (however, in the episode “Richie’s Song” he is seen eating Peanut M&M’s out of Doug’s vehicle). He asked if the M&M’s were any good, and Doug asks if they were regular or peanut, in which he responds peanuts and proceeds to eat them. In the season eight episode “Hartford Wailer”, Spence is said to be from Ottawa. In the series’ penultimate episode, “Single Spaced,” Spence becomes obsessed with romancing Carrie when it appears she and Doug will divorce.
Wow. Socially awkward? (check), Timid? (check), Unhealthy? (Check), Menial occupation? (check), Annoying? (Check), Perpetually Single? (Check), Disloyal? (Check). They managed to squeeze almost every heightist stereotype in the book into this one character.
So apparently, there is an episode of this series in which Spencer was recently dumped by a short term girlfriend. Because he is feeling lonely, he comes up with a plan to date a homosexual man even though he isn’t gay. His plan is to absorb the compliments from gay men and then tell him that he’s flattered but not gay. Of course, because Spencer is the short loser character, his plan doesn’t work out. As you’ve probably guessed, it turns out that his male companion simply isn’t attracted to him.
But don’t take my word for it. You can watch the whole episode for yourself. Just put on a pot of coffee so you don’t nod off in the middle of the show as I did.
TSC: Is it possible to celebrate tallness without taking a shit on short people? The Martha Stewart Show suggests “nope”. Take a look at the beginning of the episode where they bring out a Tom Cruise cardboard cutout to make fun of it.
A Tall Order A recent New York Post article claimed that human growth hormone is easy to get and increasingly being used by wealthy parents to make their sons taller. If your child was born shorter than you liked, would you consider this treatment? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? And, what if your daughter was going to be very tall? Would you try to intervene in her growth? Dr. Phil and his guests weigh in on this debate.
TSC: There are currently 114 comments in the comment section related to this episode. I couldn’t find the entire episode but the comments are mixed. Most of them say that the show was misleading because Dr. Phil didn’t focus on kids who “need” HGH for non-cosmetic reasons.
Keep this in mind if you are a heightist aware parent or friends of a parent.
Don’t tell your kids that they should eat their vegetables so that they can grow up nice and tall. In fact, don’t make tall the goal at all. This just enforces from and early age that height = right, and lack of it by comparison is a bad thing. Also, it’s a double whammy because it perpetuates the myth that diet makes a difference in your height in 1st world countries, and that short individuals were “bad” eaters.
Don’t keep a marking of your kid’s height on the door frame in the kitchen or wherever. This isn’t as obvious as point #1, but an open ended measurement only reinforces the idea that a taller measurement = better, and that if they aren’t moving up that’s a bad thing. Especially don’t do this if you have taller male siblings lined up next to shorter ones, because it just creates expectation. In fact I would just leave all height measurement up to the doctors.
Pretty obvious, but don’t tell your kids things like “when you grow up, you’ll be tall like ______”. Not all sons are going to be as tall as their fathers and this causes psychological trauma to those that aren’t when they are told this all their life. Also, like point #1 it reinforces that being “tall” is something in itself that should be aspired to, instead of intelligence or skill.
NEVER USE THE PHRASE “you just haven’t finished your growth spurt(s) yet”. Especially past the age 16 or so. You may not mean it, but the implied message is that their current height, which might just ultimately be their final height, somehow represents an unfinished stage of development, and that they are incomplete. Not all kids go through growth spurts, or even one, and this is devastating to keep hearing this when you haven’t grown for years and people still think you shouldn’t be done.
After a certain age, DO NOT buy clothes or shoes a size or two larger for your kids with the justification that you expect them to grow into it. From my observations this seems to apply more to mothers and their sons, because you would never see someone buy a bigger size for a daughter, given the implications about weight and everything. But too often you see some mom who just won’t accept her son’s short stature and manifesting this delusion by buying clothes that are consistently too large, as if, if they do, their son will grow into it. This obviously can be very psychologically devastating having a parent buy these things that just lie around because you’ll never fit them, a very tangible reminder that you aren’t “tall” enough for their expectations.
Don’t use expressions like “that was a petty little thing you did” or “don’t be short with me”. Obviously.
Mothers, this last one is for you: Stop shaming your daughters when they bring home short guys! We unfortunately live in a society that even the most self described liberal and progressive mothers, one who would never show racist tendencies or condemnation against gays, still exhibit loud and visceral negative reactions at the prospect of their daughters dating a short man. So much so that beyond belittling the man to their daughter in private, they’ll do it right in front of him! My theory is that subconsciously, they realize that if their daughter marries and procreates with a short man, they might have, gasp, short male grandchildren. And since they realize how badly they get treated in society, even if they won’t acknowledge it out loud, they try to shame their daughters into avoiding that fate.
No disney. Nothing pushes the “every girl deserves a tall, dark and handsome prince” meme like Disney. Or perpetuates that short individuals are creepy villains (witches, bad guys) and that the protagonist is a tall, strapping figure.
I’m sure others here learned in the pervasiveness of height discrimination can provide further advice as well.
I have been reading Emily Yoffe’s column for some years now and I have found her to be a well balanced and sensible person.
I was thrilled therefore when I saw her very sensible response to a women and her loved one who are suffering from heightism.
The only downside of the response is that the letter is titled ‘Unusual Couple’. It’s a shame that a taller women with a shorter man is still perceived that way.
Q. Unusual Couple: I have been dating an amazing man for three years. He recently proposed and I could not be happier. We are both so excited to plan our wedding. My fiancé is five inches shorter than me, something that has never bothered me, but what does bother me are the rude comments I sometimes get regarding our height difference and now that we have told everyone about the upcoming wedding they have increased a bit. Most of our friends and acquaintances have said nothing but lovely things, but some have said things such as: “He is too short for you in the long run,” and making rude jokes about him not being “man enough” for me. These comments make me furious, and I was wondering if you could help me come up with a great retort. So far I have said; “He is big where it matters,” which is not very classy.
A: Sometimes the best approach is just to look bemused, stay silent, and let the stupidity hang in the air. You could also say, “Thanks for your good wishes” or “Wow, what a small-minded thing to say.”
To read the rest of Prudie’s column please follow the link below.
TSC: Anyone who follows this blog knows that I am no fan of “leg-lengthening” or any cosmetic surgery/drugs used to make people taller so that they can avoid heightism without challenging it. But while browsing the internet, I recently stumbled across this topic on a forum dedicated to people who are interested in taking part in leg-lengthening surgery. Basically, a woman who was working for an Australian based film company wanted to interview short men interested in LL for a potential documentary on cosmetic surgery.
However, these men didn’t fall for her ploy. Instead, they rightly used their knowledge of heightism and a little inductive reasoning to conclude that such a documentary would simply exploit social prejudice for laughs and make them look like candidates for a mental ward. Here was one exchange from the forum (posted as-is and without grammatical correction), but you should really click the link and read the entire thread:
My name’s Rebecca and I work for an Australian television production company.
I have been registered on this site for some time. I have read the LL faq’s, followed the VIP diaries and made contact with the surgeons on the recommended list. I e-mailed SysOp when I registered to introduce myself and explain my reason for being here. I have debated about posting on the forum; it is with the admins approval that I do so.
Although this is a public forum I am aware for some this is the only outlet available to them and my presence may cause distress or anger. I e-mailed a member after obtaining their address from this site and have now realised transparency is the best way forward. It is with trepidation and honesty that I post the following.
We are developing a documentary on multicultural beauty in the cosmetic age. Superficially it is about plastic surgery procedures that are available in Australia and beyond. On a deeper level we are exploring peoples motivations behind electing procedures, their personal and social influences, the prejudices they face and the acceptance of different races and cultures. Leg lengthening is one of the procedures we hope to cover in the piece.
We would like to tell someone’s story. This is an observational documentary that we approach without judgement or agenda. I have watched and read many inane reports about LL in the news media; the focus has been the severity of the procedure, the cost and prolonged recovery time. Sensationalism sells and this will always be the case, especially in a three-minute news item. Asking an LL patient whether ‘it hurt’ is neither rational nor intelligent and it is with this knowledge that I understand peoples reluctance to speak to the press.
I am from the UK and LL is very much in the public domain, for many the shock value has gone, in my mind we need to move on from the procedure and look at the person. In the context of our piece, we are also looking at procedures such as facial contouring that involves breaking or shaving bone. It is widely available at many hospitals in Korea, elected by celebrities and the general public and is largely viewed without stigma.
I read this thread with interest as I ask myself why one of you would choose to talk to me. I have found people speak on camera for ego or cause, to promote themselves or to send a message, fight an injustice or to help others. You are all intelligent people with strong views and no one story is the same. The decision to LL takes courage and determination and you are not the kind of people that can be convinced on persuaded.
This is not a filming request at present, just a plea for insight, conversation and debate, whether you are starting or finishing your journey I’d love to hear from you. Contact is on your terms and privacy will be respected. We have a duty of care to the people we work with and work hard to build trustful and mutually beneficial relationships. I can’t offer you anything except a platform in which to tell your story…
You did not obtain my email address from this website. The system administrator does not hand out private information. In your first email to me, you did not disclose where you had obtained my email address.
A number of months ago while I was considering surgery in India, I published an advertisement for a live-in nurse/caretaker in India. I wanted to rent private accommodation as I am a very private person. However, due to the doctors recommendation, this was not feasible. When I asked you where you had obtained my email address, you said that you had “put two and two together” from my classified advertisements together with my postings from this site.
But you could not have been sure I was actually a potential LL patient from my advertisement alone, because I did not specify LL surgery in the advertisement. However you wrote to my email address as if you were sure I was an LL patient. Not knowing where you obtained my email address from, I unwittingly admitted that I was indeed considering LL surgery. At first I jumped to the conclusion that the administrator of this site had violated my privacy. What other explanation could there be? I had completely forgotten about the classified ads I had published months before. If you have been a member of this site, you could have easily messaged me through this website without obtaining my email address and addressing me by my first name.
Picture this. I am days away from having serious LL surgery. Then I receive an email from this girl called Rebecca. She wants me to go on television to do a documentary about how I want to be taller through surgery. No, I do not want my life turned into a circus show. This had thrown me way off balance and was contemplating not to go through with the procedure. I hadn’t even stepped into the operating room. Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to approach someone who had actually gone through the procedure? Disgraceful.
While others might be impressed by your flowery language, it does not impress me. Quite frankly, your appeals of honesty and sincerity read like one of those Nigerian email scams. Yes you make pleads of sincerity. But this is only to suit your own cause – to make a documentary. In the end, you are producing a product to make profit. And it is at the expense of other’s insecurities. It is not about patients “telling their side of the story”. They are being exploited, plain and simple.
It is totally irrelevant that the company you work for claims that it is reputable. Let’s not put it in the hands of a private production company to be responsible and make good moral judgements. It’s like telling an oil company to regulate their own environmental safety. Disaster.
There is plenty of opportunity for LL patients to tell their stories. It is on this website and is readily available for all to see if they wish to do so. It does not need to be served up into people’s faces for public debate. If someone wants to take this path, they will find the information they need. A more appropriate story would be rampant heightism in our society, not highlight individual’s reactions to it.
This website is supposed to be support for others who share similar experiences. Instead I get confronted with offers like these. As you have stated in your email, you have not used any information that isn’t in the public domain. But as you have also inferred, this is far removed from being transparent. Your tactics are underhanded and manipulative. This will be the last time I address you.
TSC: Check out this awesomely positive, and somewhat humorous, account of a tall woman who decides to broaden her dating prospects to include short men. And yes, the article comes off as a little patronizing, but it’s cute and mostly positive.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
The argument for dating a shorter man
The absolute quickest way that I filter through men that I might be interested in is by height. I love me a tall man. When you spend 96.4% of your life taller than everyone around you, it is a pretty awesome thing when someone makes you feel small, more specifically when he’s handsome and hugging you. That being said… boy, does that narrow down the dating pool a TON. Apparently, as of late, I have seemed both extra fantastic and extra tall, because I have gotten several comments like “If I was only two/three/four/eight inches taller; I would totally date you”. At first it was strictly flattering, but then I started to experience a hint of frustration. Really? The only reason we can’t date is because of my height?
It was at the moment that I realized that I was as much of a culprit as any of them, I am a heightist! (Urban Dictionary defines this as one who discriminates based on height).
Since coming to this realization, I have spent the last couple of days attempting to reason myself into the idea of dating shorter men, or at least being willing to consider it. Here are a few of the key arguments for why this would be a good idea for me to take for a test drive.
TSC: Read the rest of the article by clicking on the banner or clicking here.
My name is Jane Webb, and I’m a graduate student at the University of Kansas. I’m a 6’3” woman, and I think that my height has meant something in my life and I’d like to hear how it has meant something in others’ lives. For my dissertation, I am interviewing women who are shorter than 5’2” OR taller than 5’10” and men who are shorter than 5’7” OR taller than 6’2” (18 years or older). These are the height parameters for membership in stature-based organizations. The interviews last about one hour and focus on the interviewees’ experience of height throughout their lives.
I would appreciate it if you could inform your readers about my project by posting the attached flyer image to encourage your readers to participate in my study. If participants live outside of the Kansas City area, I can conduct phone and Skype interviews with them. If you or your readers would like to volunteer to participate in this study or want more information, please contact me at email@example.com or 816.343.8249. If you would like to talk more about this project, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to interview you as well!
Thank you for your time,
Jane M. Webb Doctoral Candidate Department of Sociology University of Kansas 816.343.8249 firstname.lastname@example.org
TSC: Post (the company which produces Honey Bunches of Oats) did a pretty good job with this commercial because it “humorously” conveys the idea of “unique taste combinations” (phrase at 0:12) through showing couples who have opposite tastes (notice that they did not use the word “flavor” because that would ruin the joke). Of course, while the ad is not particularly offensive, there is a slight problem. Three of the four couples demonstrate a difference in “taste” (i.e., differences in behavior or world views). While the other one merely represents a difference in gender norms, having nothing to do with “taste”. So why the difference? Was the taller woman / shorter man combination thrown in as a sight gag?
TSC: Check out this commercial for a product that is apparently custom designed for big and tall men. The tall man in the ad says that “being a big guy certainly has it’s advantages, but it has its disadvantages too… and this is a great product”. It seems that besides Big and Tall men, this product is also good for people with certain disabilities and women who are simply “germophobic”.
In fact, the ad seems targeted at women. The only men in the ad is that Big and Tall guy and an elderly man who flashes on the screen for a half-a-second.