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Nshima & Curry
Nshima & Curry
GETTING THE SHORT END OF THE STICK
The other day, while taking our daughter to a playground, my
wife passed two girls on a swing and overheard them
discussing their relationships. One girl, who seemed no
older than 14, said to the other, "I hate dating short guys.
If my next boyfriend is short, then (bleep) it."
You may think racism is bad, you may think sexism is bad,
but let me tell you this: what happens to short guys is the
height of discrimination. It's nothing short of appalling.
In case you're wondering, I happen to be a fairly tall guy,
6-foot-2 to be precise, especially when I've had time to
fluff my hair. But even on bad hair days, I'm at least a few
inches above average, almost as tall as Shaquille O'Neal's
Despite my height, I feel a certain empathy with short guys.
I understand their pain, the hardships they endure. You see,
I was once short. Back in my early teens, I was so short
that my sister towered over me. As if that wasn't bad
enough, I found myself bumping my head on the coffee table.
If I had only one dream, one goal in life, it was to own a
good pair of high-heeled shoes.
As it turned out, I didn't need the shoes, for I got a
growth spurt instead. But even today, I remember what it
feels like to be short. Even today, I get a little excited
when I receive an email asking if I'd like to "gain a few
inches." (Imagine my disappointment when I realize that
those inches wouldn't help me dunk a basketball.)
Unfortunately, we live in a height-obsessed world, a world
in which tall men attract pretty women and grab high-paying
jobs, while short men are left to buy elevator shoes and
As Natalie Angier wrote in The New York Times, "By the
simple act of striding into a room, taller than average men
are accorded a host of positive attributes having little or
nothing to do with height: a high IQ, talent, competence,
trustworthiness, even kindness." It's no wonder, then, that
many people are shocked when they learn that the Nobel Prize
has never been awarded to an NBA player.
Studies show that tall men are considered more sexually
attractive than their shorter brethren and thus more likely
to marry and have children. Many women seem to have a strong
preference for tall men, a bias that goes back to
prehistoric times when humans were hunters and gatherers,
and tall men were valued for their ability to bring home the
After the invention of electricity, tall men found
themselves in even more demand, as millions of women
struggled to change light bulbs. "May I change that for
you?" was the top pickup line of the 1890s.
The preference for tall men somehow persists to this day,
even with the relatively low price of step ladders. In fact,
my wife owned a step ladder long before she met me, a ladder
that now sits idle, while I spend my evenings retrieving
objects from our kitchen cabinets.
A few years ago, I came across an Internet matrimonial ad in
which an Indian woman told prospective suitors that "if
you're shorter than 5-foot-10, don't bother to respond." I
can't help wondering how many successful, kind-hearted,
well-mannered men she overlooked, all because she insisted
on wearing heels.
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