Short, Rude Woman Pens Long, Rude Op-Ed On Why Tall People Shouldn't Exist

Short, Rude Woman Pens Long, Rude Op-Ed On Why Tall People Shouldn't Exist

Yesterday, as I was innocently scrolling Twitter, definitely doing work and not mostly checking up to see what people were saying about Sunday night's episode of The Real Housewives of Potomac, I came across a tweet in which a 5-foot-6 man was talking about height discrimination and a study showing that he would need "to earn an extra $175K per year to be as attractive in online dating pools as a guy just under 6 ft."

I absolutely would have had tons of sympathy for that man if the same study had not also shown that a woman who is 5-foot-6 would need to earn $16K more than her partner to "make up" for her height and that for any woman 5-foot-8 or over this was "NOT FEASIBLE."

Which is to say that as a woman over 5-foot-8 (by 3/4 of an inch, which I count) there is no amount of money I could make that could possibly make up for this irredeemable offense against humanity.

Now, I assure you — I do just fine and have actually had very few complaints about my height situation from men, and they were all from very weird men whom I would never date whatever height I was. I assume that the reason for the "NOT FEASIBLE" in this instance is because those of us over 5-foot-8 are not playing these stupid reindeer games because of how we are too busy being awesome and pulling off flowy dresses with giant sleeves.

But then I noticed that this particular tweet was attached to another tweet about a recent op-ed in The New York Times titled "Being Short Is Better Than We're Told."

I was not prepared for this.

As much as I may occasionally get annoyed with short women in certain scenarios, largely involving crowded bars and some kind of deluded belief some of them seem to hold that I am not going to notice them sneaking ahead of me just because I can only see the tops of their tiny heads, I would never argue that the short should not exist. Because, you know, I'm not Mussolini. In fact, I am an inch and three-quarters taller than Mussolini was.

This person, Mara Altman, is five feet tall, and you can just tell she just thinks she's adorable. So very adorable and precious that she can get away with publishing a New York Times op-ed basically calling for the genocide of the tall.

From where I stand — at five feet even — being tall is a widely held fantasy of superiority that long ago should have been retired.

OK, well, I don't know that it's so much a "fantasy of superiority" as a "fact of some people's lives that they can't really do much about"?

It made sense to fawn over height when it facilitated survival. Ages ago, when the necessity of defending oneself cropped up daily, if not hourly, tall people could more easily protect their families and bring home some woolly rhino flank. Today, those who have the stamina to sit in an office chair all day bring home the plastic-wrapped meats.

There is an ongoing debate about the stature of a population and what it means for the prosperity and fairness of a nation, but I’m interested in shortness on an individual level. Our success as individuals does not depend on beating up other people or animals. Even if it did, in an era of guns and drones, being tall now just makes you a bigger target.

I can honestly say that I have never given much thought to ways in which people of different height might be more likely to be brutally murdered, though I do suppose I would be less convenient to kidnap, were the plan to involve putting someone in the trunk of a very small car. This is not the kind of thing I would gloat about, however. I don't want anyone to get kidnapped!

As a preteen I injected Humatrope into my thighs for three and a half years, at the behest of my parents, who feared I’d be alienated for being short. I understand why they felt that way, given how short people are treated in our society — a song with the lyric “Short people got no reason to live” was No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 just a few years before I was born.

Well, apparently the entire point of that song went a little over her head (I'm sorry).

Now I have twins who are among the smallest in their kindergarten class, but instead of preparing to medicate them because of an antiquated societal bias, I’m going to let them be as they are: tiny. Because short is better, and it is the future.

Because you are a normal human person, you might think that this will soon be evolving into an essay about how no one should mess with their children's height and everyone should just be happy the way they are. Allow me to disabuse you of that notion right now, because that is not even sort of where this is going.

We only talk about short stature in a positive light once every four years, when Simone Biles dazzles us in a leotard. That has left the many advantages enjoyed by short people underappreciated. On average, short people live longer and have fewer incidences of cancer. One theory suggests this is the case because with fewer cells there is less likelihood that one goes wrong. I’d take that over dunking a basketball any day.

Okay, so if I don't get shot or drone-murdered for my height, I'm going to die of cancer. Thanks, Mara!

There is almost nothing that I would take from a man that I wouldn't take from a woman. In fact, I assumed there were zero things that fit that criteria until I read this, and it turns out that complaining about being short is that thing. No one is discriminating against short women, with the exception of certain carnival rides. In fact, the study up there that said I was "NOT FEASIBLE" also suggested that women who are five feet tall are the ones with the advantage. You know, because they're "cute" — which implies neoteny, the state of resembling a human baby. I do not resemble a human baby in any capacity and I am fine with that. In fact, I barely resembled a human baby when I was one.

I can hear the "But we have to hem our pants!" from here, and I would love to be sympathetic to that but I have a 36-inch inseam, and so all I can do is hope that skinny ankle-length jeans stay in style forever, lest I have to relive the hysterical "Highwaters! She's wearing highwaters!" screams of my youth.

This is where it starts to get weird. This is the part wherein tall people are literally murdering the planet with our height.

The short are also inherent conservationists, which is more crucial than ever in this world of eight billion. Thomas Samaras, who has been studying height for 40 years and is known in small circles as the Godfather of Shrink Think, a widely unknown philosophy that considers small superior, calculated that if we kept our proportions the same but were just 10 percent shorter in America alone, we would save 87 million tons of food per year (not to mention trillions of gallons of water, quadrillions of B.T.U.s of energy and millions of tons of trash).

B.T.U.s of energy? Is she suggesting that I have to turn the thermostat up higher because of my height somehow? Or that my heating system has to work harder when I am in the room? What does this mean? What if there are short people in the room with me? And why would I produce more trash than she does? Or use more water? My sister is 5-foot-3 and she takes way longer showers than I do. We suspect that this is due at least in part to the fact that the water takes so much longer to reach her head that she does not get as much water pressure as I do. (She is also, for the record, much better at basketball than I am.)

Parents boast about how their kids “eat them out of house and home” and grow out of shoes the very week a new pair is bought as if it’s a badge of honor. My children eat like gerbils — it’s fine, they are healthy — and because of their low percentiles we save money and food, and they fit into the same pair of shoes for a year. Growing like a weed? No, thanks. I’ll take growing like a cactus.

I don't know how this woman decided that children get tall by inhaling the entire contents of an Old Country Buffet every night for dinner, but that is just not a thing.

The amount that you would have to starve a child to actually stunt their growthand shoe size would clearly cause other health problems and be pretty close to child abuse and neglect. And to what end? Sure, if I were a size 6 1/2 I could buy way more shoes on sale, but other than that the only benefits would be the joy of being more appealing to creepy men who like to talk about how they will only date "spinners" and being able to pull off a baby voice without anyone feeling deeply unsettled or insisting I seek psychological help. And, you know, I'm actually very okay with not doing either of those things.

Now that we have established that I am murdering the entire planet and dying of a gunshot, drone strike, or cancer in the very near future thanks to my inseam alone — what else am I doing wrong? OH. The human body that I live in is glorifying capitalism.

The problem is we are still under the illusion, as a general principle, that more always adds value. It was my former endocrinologist from Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, Alberto Hayek, who laid it out for me. When I tracked down the doctor, who is now retired, I asked why parents whose children have no underlying medical conditions sought growth hormone treatment for them. He said the pursuit of height made sense in a capitalistic society. “Everything is big,” he said, “the buildings, the businesses,” and went on to explain that parents reflect the mind-set that bigger is better when envisioning their offspring.

Again, I don't think parents should inject their kids with growth hormones — but also I can't help but wonder if this woman's parents had some sort of insight into their daughter's future and were concerned that she would "grow" into someone who is unbearably smug about being short.

As a short person, I’ve found the only thing I can’t do is grab things off high shelves. But that works out fine at the grocery store because tall people love to reach for things — it makes them feel like their excessive limbs still have purpose.

Either that or we and our "excessive limbs" just have good manners. Mara Altman better hope that no one in her neighborhood reads this article or they are going to be telling her she needs to bring a damn stool with her the next time she goes to the grocery store and finds that all the gerbil pellets are on the top shelf.

Oh good, now we're at the height genocide part of our journey.

In some corners of the world, a celebration of short stature is actually happening. Arne Hendriks, a 6-foot-4-inch lecturer and artist, uses performance and exhibitions to encourage people to embrace fewer inches. He’s even restricted dairy from his sons’ diets and only allows them minimal sugar in an attempt to limit their growth, saving them from the ills of height. “It’s time for tall people to get off our high horses,” Mr. Hendriks said. “Don’t be overly confident when you are tall because you are probably going to die younger, have more health problems and you are polluting more.”

This man is not only depriving his children of nutrients in hopes that they will stay small and have especially brittle bones, he also takes pictures of himself hugging giant vegetables in order to feel smaller himself, while repeating the mantra "This is not a large vegetable, I am a small person. This not a large vegetable. I am a small person. This is not a large vegetable. I am a small person," until it feels real.

The Incredible Shrinking Man

So I don't know that this is a "corners of the world" situation so much as a "one guy with some very strange issues that giant pumpkins probably cannot help" situation. I lean towards the latter.

The future I envision is different: I want my children’s children to know the value of short. I want them to call themselves “short drinks of water” with “legs for minutes.” While one yells, “I’m the shortest,” I hope the other will bend his knees to gain an advantage, shouting, “No, I’m the shortest!”

That, or they could just be happy about whatever height they are and not get weird or genocide-y over it.

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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