TSC: Not sure what to think about this, but I’m happy for them.
I met Kirk through his cousin, Jason, who was also a college friend of mine. One day, Jason told me he was sick of seeing me home alone so he was going to hook me up with his cousin. Before I agreed, the first question I asked him was, “is he tall?” Jason said, “yup! He’s about 6 feet tall.” I love tall guys so after hearing that I was sold! He gave Kirk my number and he called me THAT day. Our conversation lasted about 30 minutes and all I did was laugh. He was so funny. Thereafter, we texted each other for about a week and eventually met face-to-face outside of a bar in Queens. When I walked out of the bar, he was sitting in his car and when he stood up and got out, he was about 6 inches shorter than me (I was wearing heels, but still!). I was so upset! First thing I said, “You are short!” He turned to me with a smile, “And, you’re tall, so what?” His smile was so captivating and his response was so witty that I just stood there smiling (and blushing). I’ve been smiling ever since.
TSC: Casual heightism in support of Amputee Awareness Month (first 40 seconds of the clip). Notice how comfortable and unquestioned his convictions are when it comes to his desire to be taller. So, this isn’t very offensive, but it is remarkable just how “normal” heightism is in our everyday lives. It’s virtually never questioned.
TSC: If you happen to be a legendary actor from the Golden Age of cinema, and you have recently died, the news media will gratuitously note your height if you happened to have been a short man. Because the fact that you’ve been in over 200 movies, and you were a noted supporter of the USO, and you were Lifetime Achievement award recipient at the Academy Awards is less important than the fact you had several failed marriages and you were 5’3”.
And come to think about it, have you ever heard of another obituary in which the deceased was defined by comedians? “His 5’3” stature made him a punchline for comedians”? I mean, what kind of a line is that for an obituary?
Disgraceful. Apparently, your height even follows you into the grave.
Studies have demonstrated an unconscious bias against short men and many tall women feel uncomfortable standing out from the crowd. In a world designed for people of average height, those that fall outside the norm can find life hard, writes Amanda Smith.
TSC: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation recently published an interesting radio piece about the way short men and tall women are perceived in society, as well as how those perceptions affect their respective lives. For the most part, the questions and conclusions drawn from the guests on this topic were fair and mature.
However, I do have some major criticism of the piece. I felt that the overall tone of the broadcast was inappropriate and the actual content was lacking in terms of people who could speak intelligently about heightism as a pervasive and harmful social phenomena.
At one point they interviewed Howard Goldberg, filmmaker of the documentary S & M: Short and Male, about heightism as it applies to short males and most of what he said was fairly accurate and mildly informative for those who may have never been introduced to the subject. However, Mr. Goldberg is far from an anti-heightism activist. In fact, if you listen to the radio program as it aired (which is archived in the form of a link in the article), you’ll notice that one of the last things said in the broadcast was a piece of ludicrous advice from Mr. Goldberg on how we should challenge heightism. That is, we shouldn’t challenge heightism. We should stick our proverbial heads in the sand because (as he puts it) “the best thing a short person can do is to completely forget about being short”. Imagine if NPR in the United States broadcasted an interview about racism featuring a black man who said “the best thing a black person can do is to completely forget about being black”. Or imagine what would happen if a show was done on sexism and they found a woman to say “the best thing a woman can do is to completely forget about being a woman.” What would such a statement have to do with racism or sexism? Likewise, what did Mr. Golberg’s statement (which seems to this author to be verging on a perverse type of self-hate) add to the discussion about heightism?
Unfortunately, to some extent, the Goldberg interview fit with the tone of the entire piece. There was even a segment in which a proprietor of a “shoe lift” shop was interviewed and at no point did the interviewer question whether or not promoting shoes which make people taller is a better route to take than actually challenging the social prejudices which make people want to become taller.
Additionally, there was no substantive statistics given about the level of wage discrimination shorter people face in the job market, their odds in finding a romantic partner or obtaining leadership roles, their increased rates of depression or suicides, or their decreased rates of self-reported “quality of life” arising from heightism and various types of microaggressions connected to height related body shaming.
Throughout the piece, there also seemed an implicit suggestion that much of heightism was a “subconscious” (a distinction with very little substantive meaning) and therefore blameless prejudice. And all of that before I even mention the background music selected for the piece. Ostensibly, the program was about social discrimination and body shaming - but, for some reason, they choose a generic uptempo salsa beat for the background music. It’s like “today we are going to discuss a serious social ill that very few people talk about because while it’s socially acceptable, questioning it is completely taboo… but first, the smooth yet spicy Afro-Cuban rhythms of José Alberto, ladies and gentlemen.”
I can sum up the section on tall women in one sentence: Sometimes tall women feel masculine because of gender norms but they have Tall Clubs where they can meet even taller men to compensate for these feelings. The End.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This broadcast was much better than most of what I hear about heightism in the media. The content and analysis was lacking, but the topic was taken fairly seriously and there was very little blame-shifting (until the very end). I would have liked to have seen a bit more information about how society regards short people instead of simply how some short people cope with social stigma. But, the fact that the topic was taken seriously at all (instead of as an opportunity to hurl short “jokes” and engage in body shaming) is a step in the right direction.
I highly recommend this broadcast to anyone interested in the topic of heightism. You should give it a listen at least once.