In recent years, movements like body positivity and fat acceptance have gained widespread support. The idea behind these movements is that everybody should love the body they have. You don’t need to be skinny, blonde or have a thigh gap to love yourself. These movements are noble, powerful and necessary. However, they aren’t as inclusive as they seem.
Short men fly under the radar when it comes to these self-love movements. Everything from job prospects to dating preferences works against short men, and this has gone completely unrecognized by groups of people who live and die by the idea that people of all shapes and sizes should love themselves. Progressives teach to not judge women based on their weight or skin tone, and they’re completely spot on. Women are held to strict societal standards of beauty and worth, and as a general rule, most of these standards don’t apply to men at all. But in this specific case of short men, there are strong correlations between height and perceived value that nobody is really talking about.
This societal perception manifests itself in several ways, one of which is that the taller men are more likely to find themselves in positions of power. Gregg R. Murray and J. David Schmitz, professors from Texas Tech University, conducted a survey asking students to describe and draw an average citizen and a political leader. Sixty-four percent of the 467 students in the survey drew the political leader as taller. Research concludes that short men, on average, earn less than their taller counterparts. In some cases, around three inches of height can separate income by more than $4,000 a year.
And then there are dating preferences. Ask any woman what she wouldn’t want in a partner and something along the lines of “I don’t date guys shorter than me” will almost certainly come out of her mouth. A study found that women see height as the third most important physical characteristic when it comes to evaluating guys. Height matters.
Then there are some of the less scientific assumptions about men and height. What are some stereotypes about short men? Angry, insecure, jealous, overly aggressive, constantly trying to compensate. Psychology professor Arthur Markman went into detail about the perception surrounding height. He said human beings make many quick assessments when we first meet people. Height, much like weight, skin tone, physical attractiveness, voice and the way you carry yourself, is one of those assessments. Its importance can either be exacerbated or reduced based on other characteristics. For example, if you’re a short guy and also happen to be timid and easily aggravated, your height might be subject to more emphasis. But this basically leads to something we all already kinda knew: No single characteristic will make or break you.
The value we assign to a man’s height is something that goes largely undiscussed — even among the most open-minded and progressive people. Is that because things like sexual assault are rightfully higher on the chopping block? Yeah, probably. But is it something we should continue to ignore? Of course not.
Saldana is a government sophomore from Austin.