I look up to everyone — family, friends, neighbors, teachers, sixth graders, standing dogs, most indoor trees. Not that I don’t respect and admire all individuals (and objects), but it’s not like I have much of a choice.With my father at 5’11’’ and my at mother 5’3’’, I was cheated, dealt the short end of DNA genetic recombination. At 5’1’’ (5’2’’ on good days), height discrimination is a tall reality in my everyday life. Let me break down the impacts.
First, a disclaimer: I do not speak for human giraffes. Don’t try to relate to me. I will not engage.
Second: The weather is great down here, and I don’t need a booster seat.
From teasing, being used as an armrest and comments that you’re “so cute,” short people are given less respect. At the movies, amusement parks and other events, our age is embarrassingly questioned and double-checked. When speaking to large group of people, it’s so much more difficult for us to be taken seriously, to command the room. And then you go to the mall, where everything is tailored for the vertically prosperous. Still, we don’t complain. We roll up our pants, tuck in our shirts and deal with the lack of selection.
And by now, I’m sure many of you are wondering whether height discrimination is real, or if it’s all just my angst. But it’s not just these minor inconveniences we face everyday.
Height has a large impact on dating, social and career success. In every study done, but most notably Shepherd and Strathman’s “Attractiveness and Height,” shorter men are considered less attractive, regardless of other physical characteristics.
In the workplace, short people are also less likely to receive a promotion or hold a leadership role. In fact, the average height of Fortune 500 CEOS leaders is a staggering six feet, with Google’s Sundar Pichai and Apple’s Tim Cook beating that average at 6’3’’. Although some of this is due to our biological desire for protection, we are no longer in our hunter-gatherer days. I can go to the supermarket and scavenge just as much food as Elon Musk (given the same budget, of course).
Height discrimination even extends all the way back to childhood development. In a combined analysis of Britain’s National Child Development Survey and National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, height at age 16 predicts wages in an individual’s 30s. This is not just a correlation. Taller teens are more encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities and dating, developing their adult social skills at faster rates.
I’m not calling for legislation or anything, but next time you’re tempted to ask someone their height, think twice before you do. They’ve thought about it a lot more than you.