Humans come in all different heights, some are short, some are medium, some are tall and very few are giant. So who usually tends to suffer the most when it comes to heightism? Most of you already know, it’s short people. Specifically short men. Society puts too much of an emphasis on height while completely disregarding the fact that height alone is mostly aesthetics.
Why do women like tall men? Well, it depends but ironically it usually has nothing to do with aesthetics but rather the illusion of protection. Tall stature is erroneously associated with the ability to protect because many people mistake tall stature with brute strength based on how the media depicts tall men as brutes who are impervious to pain, which I briefly criticized here.
Tall stature does not equal strength, prowess, fluidity, agility, physical attractiveness or skill: Before we discuss how tall stature is overhyped in society, I’ll clarify a few things first.
Height, strength, Fluidity, agility, skill and prowess are separate things. When comparing height and strength, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. You can be 6’5” but still be physically weaker than a 5’9” person. For example, during the making of “the day the Earth stood still”(1951), the 7’7” actor Lock Martin couldn’t carry the much smaller Patricia Neal or Michael Rennie by himself, so they improvised by having him carry dummies instead. Another example is how the 6’1” Eddie Hall is known for being physically stronger than the 6’9” Hafthor Bjornsson. Of course you can still be tall and strong but those two aren’t synonymous with each other, they are two separate traits.
agility and speed is something that many larger people tend to lack, too much weight will usually slow you down and combined with tall stature can cause injuries. Which is why many professional athletes who are above 6’5” tend suffer from leg injuries. Examples Paul Wight, Yao Ming, Kevin Nash, Dalip Singh Rana, etc.
prowess and skill are individual traits that have absolutely nothing to do with height. They are traits you can develop regardless of your height.
Physical attractiveness and height are completely irrelevant to each other. You can have unattractive facial features regardless of height. Same goes with body shape. You can be in bad shape regardless of height. Considering how most women don’t care about looks since it’s said that they aren’t as visual when it comes to attraction, women tend to focus more on height than handsomeness.
Fluidity is another trait that shorter people have that is often forgotten. This can be seen in open weight divisions or absolute divisions of BJJ where smaller competitors use their fluidity to defeat larger and stronger competitors as can be seen here and in the video below. I’ve also written several takes on this subject before.
The double standard: Sports and aesthetics aside, let’s focus on one of the main points here and that is the double standard. Why is it that women are allowed to have height standards but if a man chooses to have weight standards, he receives hate? I guess it should be common sense but it’s not that there is little you can do about your height but if you put in a decent effort you can do something about your weight, no offense intended. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with having height preferences but at least be considerate of males who have weight preferences.
The ad hominem and straw man: Obviously whenever someone brings up the topic of heightism, someone with a fragile ego usually gets upset and starts to use ad hominems by saying things like “Napoleon complex”, “little man syndrome” and other insults. These are the same people that make a bunch of excuses whenever a small person comes out on top in a competition against a taller competitor. It’s not just a ad hominem, it’s also straw man because their intentions are to attack the weakest point of the argument.
Heightism in Hollywood: I’ve talked about this before here Hollywood practices heightism by giving most dominant roles to tall actors and actresses. Occasionally short actors do get dominant roles but they are exceptions like Tom Cruise. Ask yourself this, how often do you see 5’3”-5’6” actors and actresses get a “Jason Bournesque” role?
The Netherlands: Many people wonder why the Netherlands is known as the country that has the tallest people on average. The answer is not known for sure and there could be more than one explanation. One of these explanations is that they are extremely pressured by society to only date taller partners. They are not forced to, that would be Eugenics but they feel an overwhelming pressure to date, marry and have offspring with tall individuals. So what this does is highly decrease the quantity of short people in the Netherlands. This is a form of heightism that puts many short Dutch people at a disadvantage when it comes to dating in the Netherlands. There is so much of an emphasis on tall stature over there. Short guys like myself would never find a date in the Netherlands. Note: I’m not trying to offend Dutch people, it’s a country that I have a lot of respect for. I’m also not trying to generalize all Dutch as having the same preference.
Heightism linked to racism: Asians use to be to known for being shorter on average than other races. In recent years Asians have gotten taller but still, that stereotype is still around. You may have noticed how Asians rarely get representation in Hollywood and in other parts of the media. I briefly talked about this here. How often do you see an Asian get a lead role in Hollywood? It’s almost never. Try finding a movie with a dominant Asian lead and you’ll realize that it’s like finding a needle in a haystack as in you’ll have to look extra hard for one. However, I’ll give credit where it’s due and acknowledge that we have recently seen a slight increase in lead roles going to Asian actors. For example Mayhem, the foreigner and into the Badlands. However we also got a increase in dominant supporting roles going to Asian actors, examples: Rogue one, Tomb Raider and Ready player one. So it seems that Hollywood is starting to hear the Asian-American community. Although it still has a long way to go.
Heightism in modeling: Let’s address the elephant in the room and acknowledge that Tall males have greater success in the profession of modeling. The “ideal” height for a male model is 6’2”. Just look at the Hollister models, they are usually above average height and are required to stay in good physical condition. Let’s compare that to female modeling where all these “body acceptance” movements allow them to be diverse in body shape.
Are you a heightist? Do you look down on people who are shorter than you? Do you treat taller people better? Do you constantly use phrases like “little man syndrome” and “Napoleon complex”? Do you get jealous whenever you see a successful short person succeed? If you said yes to at least one of these questions you might be a heightist depending on the circumstance. Now, of course it can also be vice versa as well.
Now, let’s be fair. Of course being tall has its benefits as well. For example you can take bigger steps, you have better reach, you have a higher chance of getting hired and if you’re a male, you have it slightly easier in the dating world.
But there are also also benefits that come with being shorter, such as being able to fit in smaller places, living longer on average, not prone to as many injuries, having lower center of gravity and being more fluid in mobility.
I find it odd that the same progressive liberal social movements that claim to fight “inequality” and discrimination(sexism, racism, body shaming) take part in heightism.
Heightism is a type of discrimination that many people seem to ignore or are oblivious to, it’s something that needs to be addressed more often. No matter what your height is, embrace it and don’t be ashamed of it. If you’re short don’t try that leg lengthening surgery which may be excruciating and if you are tall don’t slouch.
While heightism mostly affects males. Females experience a similar type of discrimination known as “Ageism” but I’ll talk about that later on.