The following is intended both as serious and satire. The serious part is that the statistics are real, shortness is practically a crime. The satire is how little those who typically decry such things care about forms of discrimination not as popularized and yet as established in fact as any other.
Systemic heightism is everywhere. This discrimination against people on the basis of shorter than average stature is something that is deeply embedded into culture and our institutions. For men, in particular, it means a lifetime of being denied opportunities for some and height privilege for others.
Shortness and Statistics
In terms of available statistics, and actually proven discrimination, short men are most disadvantaged of any group of people both in history and modern times.
There is a distinct wage gap driven by height:
“…researchers estimate that each additional centimeter of height is associated with a 1.30% increase in annual income. In other words, a person who is 5 feet 6 inches making $50,000 per year would expect to make about $2,000 more if they were 5 feet 7 inches, and $4,000 more if they were 5 feet 8 inches.”https://www.forbes.com/sites/traversmark/2020/04/16/your-height-has-a-big-impact-on-your-salary-new-research-seeks-to-understand-why/
It isn’t only a matter of income either, but status: 90% of CEOs are of above average height. Try playing college sports, let alone get an athletic scholarship, if you’re below average height. Even in the Bible a man named Saul was made king simply for being taller than average. Meanwhile, David, a short man, was ridiculed, and had to literally kill a giant to prove his worth.
Many short men are never given the chance to prove themselves and this is especially true in the realm of romance. Women on dating sites openly, and rudely, dismiss short men writing in their profiles things like “must be 5′-10″ or over to ride.” Of course, most women are more covert in their height discrimination and simply ignore potential suitors who who don’t meet their requirements.
A 2006 study, by the University of Chicago, found that a man who is 5’6” needs an additional $175,000 to be as desirable as a man who is approximately 6′ tall and only makes $62,500 a year. Talk about an uphill battle. Not only do short men get paid less, on average, but they also need more money in order to get an equal opportunity to be considered desirable to women.
Given that single men have a deceased life expectancy, presenting a 32% greater risk for men, being especially short is basically a death sentence.
Getting the Short End of Stick
Deniers of systemic heightism try to explain away the discrimination by victim blaming. They will often claim that lack of confidence that is the real issue. However, this is adding insult to injury. A short man can’t even be confident without risking an attempt to diminish him on the basis of his height. An assertive tall man is considered to be confident, to have leadership potential, while a short man with similar qualities will often be accused of “small man syndrome” or having a Napoleon complex.
Even in language, terms like “great stature” indicate something good, while phrases like “short tempered” are indicative of a flaw in character. And not to forget those many common expressions, like “getting the short end of the stick” or “coming up short” that associate shortness with inadequacy or misfortune. There is even implicit heightism expressed in the statues of famous people being enormous in size. It is inescapable, ‘bigger’ is typically paired with ‘better’ and nobody cares about the harm done.
Over the course of a lifetime a short man will have endured being last picked in gym class despite his tenacity, friend-zoned by women who admire his character and yet are not at all romantically interested. He’ll literally be overlooked by his employers and routinely denied promotions. It will cost him years of his life. But there will never be reparations, never even be a bit of sympathy, because nobody sees shortness the same way that they do gender or skin color.
The Long and Short
We’ll never have social media campaigns to affirm shortness because it would just seem too silly, plus even short men (already self-conscious) would reject the effort. I mean who really wants to be praised, falsely, for a characteristic that makes less attractive than others? It is better to just deal with it, use the disadvantage as motivation, prove that a guy can be short of stature and still a bigger man than most. That is the best and truly the only way to overcome adversity, to show the world who you are.
Maybe this is why the most powerful and influential men are actually on the shorter end of the scale? Many actors and a significant number of billionaires are of average or below average height. Maybe it is because they knew that they would be overlooked without going 110% in everything they do? The long and short is that we can forever wallow in our disadvantage or we can turn it into a strength. No, it does not make it fair, nothing ever is fair, still nobody will ever come to the rescue of short men.
The worst thing we can do to anyone is pity them and make them dependent on our help to be actualized. It is the true racist, and the real sexist, who assumes that some need their help or uses their ‘sensitivity’ to such things for their own socal advancement, a person dealing honestly will value character above all else and not allow themselves to be biased one way or another, favorably or unfavorably, on the basis of outward appearance.
In the end, hurting people come in all shapes and sizes. It is impossible to quantify and rank such things and completely a fool’s errand to try to compensate people for every disadvantage they face in life. Furthermore, in trying, we make the problem worse in that we actually reinforce the feelings and the perception of inferiority in those we’re trying to help. It also leaves those not receiving this special treatment, and as disadvantaged or more, feeling even more neglected.
Sure, absolutely, a little awareness of the unique difficulties some encounter can go a long way to helping. And yet grievance is often a tool used by toxic and controlling people so they can have their way without putting forth the required effort for success themselves. There’s a vast difference between pity dating a short guy and giving him a chance despite his lack of statute. We should help people because they are people, not because they tall or short, black or white, male or female.
Short men, by dwelling on their grievance, will only exasperate their disadvantage. It may be cathartic to whiny and complain, but it doesn’t bring a person closer to feeling accepted. Having ‘pride’ events, marches declaring we matter, even months where members are extolled, can never actually produce the legitimacy that those snared in their grievances crave. It is only in finding our identity in something else that we’re free.