The Social Complex

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A Blog dedicated to the exploration of height bias and discrimination.


Recent comments

  • February 1, 2014 2:21 pm

    TSC: How short Asian men are depicted on American TV.  (Sorry about the “heightgrowth” advertisement…the clip is sponsered by a scam website which tricks young men into sending them money in hopes of getting taller.  But it’s still a good clip.)

  • February 1, 2014 1:57 am

    How I learnt to love short men - Telegraph

    TSC: Note to readers.  There is no such thing as a “short man syndrome”.  There are also parts of this article that are misleading, but at least it has good intentions. 

    It hasn’t been a good week for gentlemen of small stature. New research has shown that being short can increase feelings of inferiority and incompetence. Other findings show that shorter people earn less, and perhaps most significantly, it is thought that tall men have an easier time of it when they’re looking for love.

    Sadly, I’m overwhelmed with anecdotal proof confirming the results of the last study. I’ve lost count of the number of female friends who have stroppily flung their phones down on pub tables, wailing “I hate online dating, I hate it! Why can’t I find someone?!” when, after a little probing, it becomes clear that the “someone” they’re searching for needs to be 5”10, minimum. Theme parks have less stringent height requirements than some of the single women I know.

    (Read the rest at the Telegraph)

  • January 29, 2014 10:02 pm



    I thought you may be interested in this for your Social Complex blog:

    The study was reported in a short interview on BBC Radio 4 with the angle ‘’study shows short people are more paranoid, and think people around them are hostile even when they arent, although the interviewer did query whether a virtual environment where a person is suddenly and artificially experiencing being much shorter than usual will have the same psychological effects as simply being short in day to day life.

    The Guardian article linked above is more nuanced and at least goes some way towards describing prejudice/bias against short people.

    Neither report seems to mention whether they also experimented with the effects of making the subject artificially taller in the virtual environment.



    TSC:  Thanks for passing this on.  Here is another article which discusses the same study.  So, after reading a bit about the actual study, I tend to think that it doesn’t tell us much and it doesn’t measure what it purports to measure.  For starters, the study was done with women only but the authors’ hypothesis is meant to apply to short people of both genders.  Additionally, the women used here were people who already had a history of paranoia.  And finally, the authors choose to reduced the heights of their subjects in a virtual reality environment in a way which measures a perception change, while not measuring absolute height.  That is, how do we know that these women didn’t become more paranoid because they were subtly shrinking, and not because they were shorter?

    The women felt more anxious after having been “virtually shrunk” and so the authors of the study started to draw broad conclusions about short people generally.  However, this study wasn’t about short people.  This study explores the psychological consequences of what might happen if a woman were to be suddenly blasted with a shrinking ray.

    But, what’s even more damaging than the specious conclusions of this study this article references is the flippant tone of the article itself.  The basic premise of the article seems to be “short people are social inferiors and there’s nothing to be done about this except to try to make people feel taller”. 


  • January 15, 2014 7:17 pm

    Mens Health: Size Matters in Online Dating Is Your Height Hurting Your Love Life?

    (click on the Men’s Health logo to read the article)

    TSC: In an amazing display of nonsense and doubletalk, Men’s Health gives pointers to short men who are having trouble in online dating.  Just remember not to smile in your profile picture, but pose with a guitar because it will make you seem friendlier.  The only thing that was interesting in the entire article was the following statistic:

    Looks like size really does matter: Men who are 6’2’’ and up are 17 percent more likely to be contacted for a date than guys who are average height (5’8”), according to a survey from, an online dating site.

    What’s more, for fellas on the shorter side—those below 5’5’’—the odds of drawing interest from a prospective match dropped by 55 percent compared to the tall guys.

    TSC: That’s not a particular surprising statistic for those of us who are familiar with issues surrounding heightism (though I actually thought the difference would be greater).  However, it does provide further evidence to the fact that the social privilege which attaches to being tall is much weaker than the social stigma which attaches to short stature. 

  • January 12, 2014 8:39 pm

    7 Reasons Short Guys Are Great ...

    TSC:  Mildly insulting, but well intentioned. 

  • January 12, 2014 11:11 am

    Does anoyone know where this is from?


    TSC: So, apparently there is this video clip making its rounds on the internet which depicts a young man struggling with being bullied because of his height.  But, the video is not posted for sympathy… it’s posted for laughs.  Essentially, this video clip is being used to make fun of short men (via the increasingly popular slur, “manlets”) who speak out against heightism. 

    In this clip, a short boy appears to be paraded in front of his entire school during an assembly so that he can confront his bullies and others who have harassed him.  The results are quite sad….

    TSC:  And check out the comment section of this video. It’s mostly adults and young adults laughing at a child’s greif from being harrassed in school.

    This shows just how acceptable heightism is in our soceity.  There’s this notion that height bigotry is “not that bad” and that his pain is attributed to “being short” (as if simply being short generated negative emotions without the social stigma that comes with it).  There is also this popular perception that anxiety or grief caused by heightism is the same sorts of anxiety generated by more benign body issues like having a big nose or having acne.  It’s considered something that children should “get over”. 

    Such notions demonstrate that our society is a long ways away from acknowledging the true nature of heightism in terms of both depth and severity.

    Finally, does anyone know the source for this clip?  Can you imagine the outrage that would be generated if people were laughing at this kid on the internet because he broke down after admitting that he is harassed for being gay? 

    Why is this O.K.?

  • December 18, 2013 11:30 pm

    TSC: Put a face to the hate, people. 

    Click on the link to see the High Resolution images over at the “Put a Face to the Hate” blog. 

  • December 15, 2013 11:46 am

    Why Shorter Men Should Go After Taller Women

    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. 

  • December 15, 2013 8:26 am

    Short Guys Cannot Catch a Break in Love

    TSC: Much of the comment section here is rather disgusting.  So, reader beware. 

  • December 2, 2013 9:01 pm

    Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

    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.