My Thoughts on Heightism

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Being a short dude, heightism is a thing that I have become acquainted with. It seems to me that heightism is the one unchallenged prejudice remaining in our modern society. In fact, the word “heightism,” although coined in 1971 by Saul Feldman, an American sociologist, in his study The presentation of shortness in everyday life—height and heightism in American society: Toward a sociology of stature, does not exist in my copy of the Oxford Dictionary of Current English nor is it in MS Word’s onboard lexicon, so it’s underlined in red each time I write it. It is so pervasive that it has gone largely unnoticed and many people either have never heard of it or think it’s a joke.

Well, it is not a joke. Twitter and YouTube have an uncanny knack for drawing out people’s deepest idiocy. Check out the Exposing Heightism Twitter feed and you’ll see what I mean. They take the liberty of retweeting heightist tweets for all the world to see, and there are a shocking amount of them. Here’s a few that popped up in the last 24 hours (the embedded tweets weren’t working for some reason, so I cut and pasted them):

(@StephanieNoLess) Short guys make me so sad what a waste of sperm

(@RocksMyLocs) Short men are not men they’re children. GROW UP you childish assholes

(@iM_Neshun) Death to short men

 (@Liberienne94) Short men are useless. Just breathing up precious air for nothing

Yikes.  And that’s just a handful that I cherrypicked just now. The list goes on and on. It’s perhaps even more shocking when other men hate on short men.

(@Sammm_30) Fuck all short guys

(@_Njay3) If you a grown man shorter than 5’6 and u wear smaller than size 9 shoes.. Deactivate your life

What’s with all this hostility? It seems outrageous to think that someone could harbour so much hate towards someone for something they have no control over changing, and especially considering they had never done anything to them in the first place.

Hmm… It’s all very similar to that other form of prejudice that we have worked so hard to battle against throughout modern history. Try changing the word “short” in any of the above tweets to “black” or “fat” or “Jewish” and you’d be lynched. It would just be a matter of time until you were convicted of hate speech and swift justice meted out. How can such heinous hatred even exist today? It’s unfathomable that people could feel this way and even be so confident that these thoughts are acceptable that they put them on the internet for everyone to see.

Go to YouTube and peoples self righteous disposition emerges in other ways. Comments on this website exhibit some astounding levels of idiocy. While watching videos about heightism, I found comments from short guys complaining about how rough they have it, and I have also found comments from tall guys bragging about being tall. Things like “6’3” master race here! You short guys suck” and other obnoxious bullshit such as this can be found.

On one hand, I want to believe that the anonymity of the internet and the ability to hide behind a computer screen enable these retards to say things like this without filter. “Forgive them father, for they know not what they do”, as Jesus once said. But really, this stuff doesn’t come from out of nowhere. These thoughts and feelings are in there somewhere and social media just allows an easy pathway for these atrocious statements to become known. Heightism is real, and it lives in the hearts and minds of people everywhere.

This is perpetuated and accepted by the media and Hollywood. Short characters are often portrayed as being evil, scheming, uncouth, vindictive, perverted, dirty, and mean. In commercials we can often see short people portrayed in a negative light as well. Check out this compilation of heightist commercials.

It’s no secret that women prefer men to be taller than them in matters of romance, and it’s still considered taboo for a taller woman to date a shorter man. They offer no flexibility in their height preference either, and this makes dating extremely problematic. Online dating involves a penchant for masochism for us shorties as height is one of the first things that a woman will look at when she views your profile, and dating sites allow you to screen for a certain height preference.

There seems to be no solution to this dilemma. You might simply advise short dudes to go after shorter women, but I have often found that short chicks are often the most height obsessed out of anyone. Think of the 5’0” girl who demands that she won’t date anyone under 6’0” and won’t even give a short bro a slim chance. Such entitlement. This is not uncommon, especially in the online dating market where many women specifically state in their profile that only men of a certain height need apply.

But this is all old news. Science has verified it. According to science, tall men also make more money and are more likely to succeed in the workplace. I have managed to extricate myself from this circumstance by becoming a freelance writer. I work from home, and no one tells me what to do. I have no boss and deal with no office politics. But for most people who do not enjoy this lifestyle, heightism in the workplace is a real obstacle. Do employers consciously deny short applicants jobs and raises? I am not one to say, but science has the answer to that and it says yes.

So, apparently because I am short I’ll never find love, never be wealthy, and never be respected by my peers. Well, I may as well just kill myself and hope for a few more inches in the next life.

Seriously though, this is all ridiculous. I think the real problem is that short men, by and large, lack confidence. The reason they lack confidence is because all our lives we are made to believe that tall is good and right and beautiful and everything that we should aspire to be when growing up. No one ever wants to be short. Our hegemonic standards of beauty and masculinity dictate that we’re supposed to be tall and powerful, so the short men must therefore be weak and insignificant.

Short men are put down and bullied in school because they make easy targets, and being consistently bullied will take a toll on anyone’s self esteem. Hell, I admit I had rock bottom self esteem well into my twenties.

Because of women’s pervasive preference for tall men, short guys miss out in the love department, and this lands a second devastating blow to their self worth. It’s a one-two punch that results in either a meek and cowardly disposition, or overcompensation by being aggressive and angry. This overcompensation is euphemistically called “short man syndrome.” I hate this moniker. This so-called syndrome is really a product of the hostile environment our own social constructs create.

The way to overcome this is simply to be tough, and find confidence and happiness within you. I’ve endured all the bullshit, but when I look at the way I was in high school and college and compare it to the way I am now, I am a totally different person. I rose above it all. I experienced life, and love, and have grown in ways that are worth more than physical height. I have grown a thick skin and developed a strong sense of who I am, and where I’m going.

I read self-defeating posts by short guys on forums and shake my head. Short men of today are filled with self pity and loathing, some even to the point of being suicidal. My friends, this is no way to live. You get one shot at life, and we are the way we are. You may not be able to slam dunk a basketball, but so fucking what? You have other talents. For me, it’s writing. I may not be much of an athlete, but I like to think I’m pretty good at writing and take great pride in my abilities with it. I’m fine with the fact that I’ll never be a track star or a football player or whatever. We all have our roles to play.

And by the way, there are many pro athletes who are short. Mugsy Bogues is an NBA player standing 5’3”. Look him up.

All this talk about short men being inferior is complete bullshit. If you don’t believe me, here is a list of great short men of history. The list includes actors, artists, musicians, writers, politicians, and leaders both living and dead. (Short is defined as below average height in America, 5’9”)

  • Winston Churchill (5’6”)
  • Ludwig von Beethoven (5’4”)
  • John Stewart (5’6”)
  • Lawrence of Arabia (5’5”)
  • Ghandi (5’4”)
  • Martin Luther King (5’7”)
  • Ringo Star (5’8”)
  • Bruce Lee (5’6”)
  • John Keats (5’1”)
  • Norman Mailer (5’6”)
  • Robert Downey Jr (5’8”)
  • Ben Stiller (5’6”)
  • Sammy Davis Jr (5’3”)
  • Seth Green (5’3”)
  • Daniel Radcliffe (5’5”)
  • Woody Allen (5’6”)
  • Jason Alexander (5’5”)
  • Bob Dylan (5’6”)
  • Michael J Fox (5’4”)
  • Tom Cruise (5’7”)
  • Napoleon Bonaparte (5’6”)
  • Pablo Picaso (5’4”)

….just to name a few. I could go on, but you get the picture. It seems entirely apparent to me that short men are every bit as competent as tall men. I don’t know where the idea that short men are inferior and destined for failure and misery came from, but obviously it just isn’t true.

My grandfather was the same height as me (5’5”) and he fought in WW2. He flew in an RAF bomber squad and survived 90 missions. That’s pretty amazing considering the average lifespan in the bombers back then was 13 missions. After the war he married my grandmother and started a successful lumber business. His shortness never stopped him from fighting for his country, raising a family, and operating his own enterprise.

The troubling thing is that people don’t take the issue of heightism seriously. NOSSA, the National Organization of Short Statured Adults, a non-profit organization advocating against heightism, shut its doors in May 2013 due to a lack of support. Now, it’s all we can do to combat heightism by exposing it wherever it shows its ugly face and beating it down with intelligent discourse.

The world needs to get beyond this. Heightism is a form of body shaming and should be regarded as hate speech when people say things like the tweets I listed at the start of this post. Short men of the world, don’t give into the hype and don’t listen to these morons when they impose their own bigotry upon you. We are better than this.


7 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Heightism

    Joe said:
    October 27, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Hello. You seem to be somewhat aware of the height bigotry that short men must endure. This is more than we can say for the majority of short men. However you still seem to be hooked on what I’m going to refer to here as an “individual solution”, that is, “The way to overcome this is simply to be tough, and find confidence and happiness within you”. This is not a “within you” situation. This is a “without” situation. No one tells Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, Gays, Lesbians, LGBT, women, or any other group. that the solution to discrimination is to solve it within them. Sure, we need to be tough, and confident in our individual lives, but the solution to height bigotry is not for each short man to handle it in an individualized and atomized fashion and to leave it at that. There needs to be a group dynamic of some sort. The short statured need to do exactly the same things that all these groups do and that requires some sort of unified stance. Unfortunately each short man and woman view their height for the most part as an individual physical trait or a cosmetic issue. I don’t know if this is going to change anytime soon. My own opinion is that heightism is getting worse. Twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years ago, there were no commercials on TV denigrating short men. No comedians mocking short men. No one wishing short men to be put into concentration camps or killed. With the unavailability of other groups as targets, short people and short men in particular are being targeted more and more. There’s no psychologist in the history of the World that associated negative personality traits with any group based on race, religion, color, creed, lack of hair, eye color, etc. yet a well-known psychologist – Alfred Adler – named a complex after short men with ZERO empirical evidence, no evidence of any kind, just his own personal bias. No song ever made it to the mainstream airwaves that denigrated any group of people based on ANY characteristic as far as I know other than the despicable song “Short People” written and sung by Randy Newman. And I could go on and on. If anyone wants the solution to heightism, they have to look at how any other group react and what they do when similar wrongs are perpetrated against them. As you know well I’m sure, no other group in this country would tolerate the bigotry and hate that short people and short men in particular tolerate in silence.

    Thanks very much.


      Chris Riddell said:
      October 28, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      The Randy Newman song actually doesnt mean what everyone thinks it means. The song is meant to mock peoples attitudes towards short people, not short peopel themselves. The real message is in the bridge

      Short People are just the same
      As you and I
      (A Fool Such As I)
      All men are brothers
      Until the day they die
      (It’s A Wonderful World)

      Its also worth mentioning that Randy Newman was himself a short dude. Why would he write a song mocking himself? He once stated that he regretted writing that song because people completely missed the point.

      As for defeating heightism at large, there is actually a YouTube video discussing three ways we can combat it. There are three ways, but it concludes that only one of them is viable. That way is to target the value judgement component that makes people think heightism is ok. This means speaking out and exposing it where it hides.

      Heres the link to that video:

    Joe said:
    October 28, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    You seem to be on page with the overall prejudice of heightism, however if Randy had written a song similar to “Short People” and it was about Blacks, Jews, Gays, etc. his recording career would have been over the very next day. And no amount of explaining about “mocking peoples attitudes” towards that group would have extricated him from his difficulties. I think you know that. The most logical group to have used for this alleged purpose would have actually BEEN Blacks, however Newman knew perfectly well that if he had chosen a group with ANY political power at all for that song for exactly the same purpose as he claimed, his career would have would have been forcefully ended. So he chose a powerless group – short people to use for this purpose. As far as Randy Newman’s height goes, it is my understanding that he is ANYTHING BUT SHORT, STANDING AT THE MAGIC 6 FOOT MARK. Even if he were “short”, there are many self-hating short men who mock themselves to make a buck, so it wouldn’t be too hard to understand why a short man would write a song like that. But the fact is – Randy Newman is not short. You need to check your facts. As far as that video goes, I don’t necessarily agree with what’s proposed there. I don’t think that an anonymous Internet poster (Geoffrey Arnold; not his real name) should make up his own social issue theories or copy them from anyone else as he did in this case, (He copied this hegemonic masculinity concept from a grad student named Laura Butera) and then propound them as though they’re Gospel truth. No one who maintains anonymity can have a good level of credibility. Attacking masculinity and attempting to make women more masculine is not the way to fighting heightism. You’re not stupid. Women and young girls have shown themselves to dislike short men a great deal more than taller men do. You’ve seen the thousands of Twitter posts by young women. Those thousands of posts – and by the way that number is increasing every day – are examples of pure HATE, and their hate for short men certainly has nothing to do with something called “hegemonic masculinity”. Trying to make women “Manly” will only make them choose short men as targets even more, and emasculate them even more, along with All men, short, average and tall.

      Chris Riddell said:
      November 1, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      You are right about Randys height. I read somewhere that he is short, but a quick google search has him at 1.83m, I think heightism will eventually go away, but probably not for a long time. People will, hopefully, understand that discrimination in any form isn’t cool especially for things that can not be changed. All we can really do is call it out where it exists, and rise above it by living happy, productive, and fruitful lives. Dont give in to the bullshit.

        Joe said:
        December 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm

        I’ve said before that short men are resigned to their fate of 2nd class citizenship. Your last post was a statement of resignation.

    Anon Ymous said:
    January 9, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Honestly, I’m happy that those people on that Twitter feed are so open and public about their views on short men. Aren’t you?

    If you were a tall man and, say, you met one of those women and you hit it off, it’d probably take a few dates or even a short relationship for you to realise what an awful person they were!

    One of my favourite things about my height (5’6) is that it weeds out hateful, conceited women right off the bat! Truthfully, if they are shallow enough that they flat out refuse to date someone smaller than them on principle, they’re probably not worth dating full stop.

    It’s similar to women who say they’re looking for someone who’s ‘tall, dark and handsome’ – it’s a red flag, and it’s not just the short people who ‘suffer’ – many black/asian people who are tall and handsome come to realise that ‘dark’ means white, with dark hair and eyes.

    Do these people sound like the kind of people you’d want to date anyway? I’ve dated women from 5’2 to 5’11, and my height has really never been an issue in any of my relationships.

    As a side note I really don’t like when people compare heightism to racism. Racism is a totally different thing. You really cannot compare them honestly without sounding like a real arsehole to anyone who has experienced racism (Including myself). There’s never been short person slavery. There’s never been a short person holocaust. The British never colonised Short People land. It’s not a good argument and I wish people would drop it.

    Chris said:
    March 21, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Short guy here – 5’2″. After reading multiple articles and posts on the subject of heightism and dating, I have to say I have been pretty lucky, sort of. I have had a great woman in my life for 16 years, until we divorced 5 years ago and have a beautiful daughter. I have experienced other relationships with women – some long term, some very short (2 weeks).

    I have also experienced women’s prejudice against short men. My last encounter with a girl, who happen to be 4’11”, didn’t want to date me because of my height. She never told me that was the reason but I knew that was it. She made me feel ashamed of who I was, physically. I don’t believe I’m an ugly man – I work out, I have been told I’m handsome, I have a great personality and sense of humor. This woman made me feel special and then pulled the rug out from under me. It made me not want to date or try to find love anymore. What these female bigots do to short men in immoral and hurtful. I would never go up to a fat woman and make her feel like she is lower then pond scum just because she’s heavy. Hell, I wouldn’t do that to anyone. Very cruel!!

    But, unfortunately that is the kind of world we live in. It is a shame that people have to spew such hate, for the fact that a person was born vertically challenged. The only way to survive is to rise above it. I don’t give haters the time of day. They aren’t worth my energy – like that woman. I have accepted that I might be alone for the rest of my life, which is a shame but as long as I know who I am and I’m happy, no hater will ever take that away from me.

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