Tag Archives: short men

The 6′ rule

15 Mar

Actor and wrestler, Andre the Giant, stood at 7'4.

Last week, Davy Jones’ sudden death prompted a post about his life as an entertainer, and his life as a short man. Today, the focus is on tall men – their cultural psychology, how women feel about them, and medical problems they can face.

I know a lot of women like tall men. Our society has a thing about tall men being somehow better than shorter men but it is completely unproven. We have attachments to the notion that bigger is better but there is no correlation between a person’s height and their abilities or IQ.

Social anthropologists say women want mates who can provide and protect, and I’ve watched interviews with women who like tall men because they say, tall men give a feeling of protection (though I’m not sure why they would need protection in our relatively safe modern-day western world).

As I said last week, I am a small woman and I prefer short men because among other things, I’m concerned with proportion. Why would I want to cart around a step-ladder for the times that I want to kiss my tall boyfriend, and similarly, how could a tall guy feel on equal footing to his tiny girlfriend when she only comes up to his armpit? I’ve heard some men say “the height difference doesn’t matter when you’re horizontal”. Perhaps not, but how much of your relationship do you plan to spend lying down?

Once bitten, twice shy

I have been on a lot of dates in my life and I have learned a lot of things. Several years ago on a dating website, I was in contact with a handsome man who seemed interesting. I looked at his stats and saw his height. “Yeah right, no one is 6’11,” I said, assuming a typo, and decided to meet him.

To my absolute astonishment, he was 6’11. It was the most bizarre date I’ve ever been on, even outside of the 21″ height difference. He was odd, he was large, and he got aggressive. In the end, I had to use all the strength in my body to fight him off. Though he was almost 2 feet taller than me and double my weight, I managed to get away unscathed.

From that potentially harmful experience, I created a rule that prevents me from dating men over 6′, keeping me feeling safe from harm. Even if the giant is the most lovely, gentle creature, even if I’m accused of heightism, even if people tell me I’m being unfair, the size difference is just too imposing. I shock some tall men when I tell them they’re too tall for me – I know most of them haven’t heard such a remark before, but I hold my ground out of pure self-preservation. I don’t want to get into another compromising situation and I hope they understand my position.

Now, 6’11 is unusually tall, and the average height of Canadian men is 5’8, but men standing 6′ tall are rated the most attractive to women and are said to be the most reproductively successful. Social anthropologists say that in evolutionary terms, tall men and petite women are favoured and can afford to be more selective in their romantic partners.

Health problems

It’s no secret that taller men attract more women and earn more money, but shorter men live longer and enjoy better health. We don’t often think about height as a threat to our health, but taller people are susceptible to Marfan Syndrome – the stretching and consequent weakening of connective tissue in organs, bones, and ligaments, also associated with lung and eye problems. Being a tall man over 50 increases the risk for prostate cancer too.

Some teenage boys grow so long and lanky that they feel awkward and self-conscious and try to make themselves less noticeable by slouching. If this carries into adulthood, repetitive strain injuries can result, made worse by living in a world designed for smaller people – desks, beds, doorways, cars, planes, etc.

In 1983, John Gillis, psychology professor at Fredericton’s St. Thomas University, wrote Too Tall, Too Small, describing height extremes and associated behaviours – the Napoleonic Complex, plaguing short men who behave aggressively due to their lack of height, and the Friendly Giant Syndrome affecting some tall people with what Gillis calls an overcompensation for being physically dominant – tall people trying to be as nice as possible and sitting at every opportunity.

Some giants don’t want to dominate the situation with their stature and as Gillis says, many very tall people have gentle dispositions, but this can go too far in the opposite direction and the tall individual can lack assertiveness to the point of being a doormat. (Read the Ottawa Citizen article about Gillis’ book.)

Our culture still sees the world from a masculine perspective – through testosterone goggles where everything is larger, but bigger is not necessarily better. In Blink, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the height issue by asking, “Have you ever wondered why so many mediocre people find their way into positions of authority? It’s because when it comes to even the most important positions, our selection decisions are a good deal less rational than we think. We see a tall person and we swoon.”

I think as a culture, we are taught to see taller men as somehow better than short but being too small or too tall can have serious effects on a man’s confidence. I’m not sure that I would say tall men are any more confident than short men; I think it’s up to the individual. I see smaller men shrinking in too-big clothes and tall men with terrible posture trying to blend in with the shorter majority as often as I see well-dressed men of all heights with their heads held high.

No matter what your size, gents, it’s all in the way you carry yourself which is a product of how you feel about yourself. You have the choice to walk tall or to shrivel, and the rest of us will respond to what we see.

Davy Jones

8 Mar

This week, we lost one of the good ones. Davy Jones, the former singer of The Monkees died at the age of 66 of a massive heart attack. He leaves behind a lifetime of talent, loads of laughs, and a million broken teenage hearts.

Davy was born in Manchester, England and began his career on the much-loved series, Coronation Street, then took the part of the Artful Dodger in the London West End production of Oliver! which brought him fully into the entertainment fold (he was nominated for a Tony award for his role in the New York production). He appeared on the same Ed Sullivan Show as the Beatles in 1964, you know, their first US television appearance where masses of hysterical teenaged girls drowned them out.

“I watched the Beatles from the side of the stage, I saw the girls going crazy, and I said to myself, this is it, I want a piece of that,” Jones said of the evening.

In 1966, Jones auditioned for a new series that followed the adventures of The Monkees, a music group trying to break into the rock and roll world. The Monkees were really the first corporate pop group, a fabricated American version of The Beatles, made complete by Davy Jones, the clever, handsome Brit. The group had some very catchy music, often written by the best songwriters of the period: Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart, Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Neil Diamond, and the group’s own Michael Nesmith, and the series won two Emmy Awards in 1967 for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy (James Frawley).

I watched re-runs of The Monkees TV show when I was a kid and I inherited my one-time Davy Jones-crazed aunt Betsy’s Monkee records, so I have my own happy memories of Davy and his gang of wacky band mates. Betsy, like millions of pubescent girls worldwide, went mad for Davy, plastering his pin-up face on their bedroom walls and dreaming that she was actually the one he was singing about when he crooned, “I’ll be true to you, yes I will”.

I got hate letters from girls all over America because I wouldn’t go to the prom with them.
-Davy Jones

He sang heart-felt ballads and he could shake a mean maraca; he was the kind of fella any girl would fall for – deep brown saucer eyes, thick dark hair, a beautiful face, a sharp wit, and a charming British accent. Davy was just as sweet, just as cute, and caused just as much teenage hysteria as our modern adolescent heart-throb, Justin Bieber. These two share another commonality – their stature. Standing a compact 5’5, Justin is only 3″ taller than Davy was.

Davy was so small that he sometimes served as a prop on The Monkees series.

Short

“I’ve always thought if all the show business success hadn’t happened, I’d have been a world champion jockey. It’s in my blood,” Davy said in 1996.

In Davy’s case, his small stature helped him become an accomplished horseman, though most people might argue that taller is better. In a publication I used to do before I started this blog, I devoted one issue to men’s height. Through my research, I developed a theory about why the western world has a hate on for small men, and I think that Britain’s George III is responsible. When the French army, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, threatened England, caricatures of the French leader being small and weak in comparison to the larger, stronger British monarch began to appear in newspapers, colouring society’s view of short men. The truth is that Napoleon stood at a very average 5’6 for the time, while George stood somewhere around 5’11, and he saw this as a point of ridicule. Short men have been in the dog house ever since (source).

For the record, there is no correlation between height and intelligence; short men are just as able and just as intelligent as tall men, but because we have been socially conditioned perhaps by George III’s political posturing, things aren’t so great for short guys.

I learned  more about the short man’s plight in the survey I did for the height issue, finding that of the men surveyed, those under 5’7 reported height discrimination. Short men complained of problems buying clothes, feeling overlooked, and being socially perceived as being “less than” a taller man. It’s understood that shorter men suffer in life, work, and love, making less money than taller men and working extra hard to attract women. (Read this blog about dating short men by a short man.)

I had a conversation about height with a 5’7 foot male friend the other night who uses internet dating sites. He complained about the profiles on these sites being full of women who insist on meeting tall men only, making my shorter friend feel bad and “rejected”.

Seeing as though our culture neglects short men already, I can see why a short man might be hurt by a height exclusion, so, in support of my small brothers, I’m going to make an admission: I am 5’2, I prefer short men, and I have height restrictions when it comes to dating too. Nothing personal, but the closer a guy is to 6′, the less attractive he is to me as a romantic partner. When I used dating sites and saw an interesting face, I’d check his height and if he was too tall, I passed. It’s a proportion thing for me. I know that I am not alone when I say that I cannot think of anything more attractive than a compact, self-assured man. Believe me, fellas, contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of women who dig short guys. (Read this blog about dating short men by a woman who likes smaller men.)

Davy Jones was one of the first men who made being short sexy, passing the torch to short men like Tom Cruise, Prince, Jason Priestly, and Elijah Wood who have all been very successful in their careers and in their romantic lives. With three wives, four children, and an entertainment career spanning over 50 years, little Davy did pretty well for himself. He didn’t suffer from “short man’s syndrome”, walking around with a chip on his shoulder or shivering in insecurity over his small stature; Davy didn’t have anything to prove, he just enjoyed himself and believed in himself, and it’s that confidence that makes a short guy shine.

Thanks Davy.