The Heightist Amongst Us


I think if we’re really being honest, most of us harbor some form of prejudice. I’m not saying deep down we’re all hate-mongering racists, but I think we tend to be suspicious of people who are different.

I, for example, am wary of the perfectly done-up mom who styles her hair and applies makeup before dropping her kids off at school at 8:00 o’clock in the morning. Overachievers like these are surely of a different breed.

I’m equally leery of the earthy granola types with their long flowing gray locks, scuffed clogs and gauzy skirts, mostly because I know that if we engage in conversation it will surely center on the details of their dreadful vegan diet, or worse, their boasting about not owning a television.

Sometimes our biases are cultural, but often they’re learned from our parents. As my brothers and sisters and I got older, we realized that our own mother harbored a prejudice. We’ve been careful not to follow suit and have even made efforts to reform her. But, like a lot of people who are biased, she won’t admit to it.

My mother, I’m afraid, is a “heightist.”

I know it sounds crazy, but my 5’8” mother looks down on short people, and yes, I mean both figuratively and literally. Sure she has lots, well maybe just a couple, short friends and she’s not obvious about her heightism. She’s not advocating anything crazy like heightist segregation and she’s not out there burning crosses on short people’s lawns. But, I honestly believe that she thinks short people are a few rungs lower than her on the evolutionary ladder.

Anytime my mother meets someone new, she comments on the person’s height. When I brought home my 4.0 pre-med student boyfriend, I assumed he would be a mother’s dream. But no, at barely five foot, nine inches tall, he received a lukewarm welcome. I knew his height was to blame.

Recently my mom met a couple that my husband and I had befriended, and afterwards we didn’t hear the expected, “What a friendly pair.” Instead it was, “What a nice tall couple,” as if that were the ultimate compliment.

My eldest sister was the first to confront my mom’s heightist tendencies. When her second son failed to reach the 50th percentile on his growth chart, my mother could not hide her disappointment. Again and again she would ask if her grandson had grown any and then when she heard the bad news she would lament, “Well I guess he’ll take after his short grandma.”

I didn’t think too much about it until I had kids of my own. It became a habit when they were babies to call my mom after each doctor’s visit to relay the latest findings. Reports that my middle daughter was in the 90th percentile made my mom giddy with delight. The fact that she went on to be the tallest girl in her elementary class was just icing on the cake.

Unfortunately, my eldest daughter became a cause for concern early on. At doctors’ visits she regularly checked-in below the 30th percentile. Soon I receive the “She’ll take after her short grandma” comments.

“She’s young and still growing,” I would lamely protest, trying to keep my girl in Grandma’s good graces.
But, now that my eldest is sixteen and only 5’2” I’m not sure my mom is buying it anymore.

I’ve tried to distract with reports of her “A”s, various awards and artistic accomplishments. But I’m afraid they are of no consequence. She could be a Rhodes scholar or Nobel Peace Price winner, but in the eyes of her grandma, she has committed the ultimate betrayal: she’s short.

My daughter knows. Recently, I hung up the phone after another height conversation with my mother and noticed my eldest daughter standing there, wearing a mock look of despair, “I’m a disappointment to you and Grandma, aren’t I?” she asked dramatically, before collapsing onto the chair in giggles. Of course, because of her height, she didn’t have far to fall.

Luckily, my kids understand that Grandma means no harm. I’ve explained to them the likely cause of her height prejudice. As a child, my mom towered over her friends. She was 5’8” in the seventh grade, a head above her classmates and certainly an unusual sight in the 1940’s. It would be years before the boys caught up, and in the meantime they teased her mercilessly.

Eventually my mom learned to appreciate her height and its benefits, but like a WWII veteran who befriends his Japanese neighbor yet still worries that he might attack him in the middle of the night, my mother has learned to forgive the short people of the world, but I’m not sure if she will ever forget.

Though I’m tall like my mother, I’m careful not to give into feelings of “heightism” because that would be foolish. I realize that the height-challenged among us can be good people and have families that they love and care for just like I do.

I know that I could never be a heightist. After all, some of my best friends are short.

20 Comments

Filed under aging, comedy, culture, Family, humor, kids, life, mother daughter, mothering, relationships, women, Writing

20 responses to “The Heightist Amongst Us

  1. Oh my god this is hilarious! A+ for originality. I never really thought about it before, but I know people like that myself — thank god I’m in the 90th percentile! By the way, “Earthy Granola Type” <– that's a keeper! I love the whole description, very clever:)

  2. Thanks Adam! My mother would approve of your 90th percentile!:)

  3. Andrea

    So funny! but now I worry about being a Heightist too

  4. My Mom is totally a heightist. When I met my husband, and we were first engaged, she expressed horror that he was “too short, had small feet and looked like a lawn gnome.” Fortunately, my husband has a good sense of humor. He thought the lawn gnome crack was great.

    • Oh my god! A lawn Gnome!! Wow – he was indeed forgiving.

      • Indeed, truly a mother-in-law from hell. (Although I confess, if you put a floppy hat on him, he might look a bit like a lawn gnome:) ). She has grown to like him much better over the years. She blames him for our daughter’s shortness though. She used to mail me clippings suggesting growth hormone for her.

  5. THAT was priceless! And yes, we ALL have those secret prejudices that we desperately try to overlook or hide. For some reason, mine is bad hair! I don’t admit this to anybody but I secretly find it hard to look past someone’s bad hair to see the person under it! But don’t fret, you certainly have my vote of approval for having your hair done to take your kids to school every morning. It’s those “other” mamas that I have to watch out for! LOL

  6. Ah, if only height were the prejudices that my aunts and grandma indulged in. No, theirs is sexism. Men are far superior to us, apparently. They drive me nuts. Once, during a hurricane in Florida, my grandmother called to see if my ex-husband had come over to “protect” me. “Is he there?” she asked.

    “Yes. He’s out on the front lawn drinking a beer and watching the storm blow in. I’m not going to save him if he doesn’t have enough sense to come in.”

    “Oh, good. I’m glad there’s a man around.”

    For what?????!

  7. You have been nominated for the Liebster Award. To learn about the rules for this award, please go to http://searchingforthehappiness.wordpress.com. Congrats!

  8. inthemomlight

    It’s weird because I come from a “tall” family, and I only grew to 5’2″. I was always the envy of the other women because of my petite stature so it never bothered me until…. I now have two sons who have two girl cousins towering over them😦

  9. Loved it! Though I’m sure your Mother would not be impressed with my barely six foot frame,even I refer to short people as “vertically challenged.”

  10. you are one funny girl – thanks for dropping by my blog

  11. Everything’s conspiring to make me feel short. I’ve tagged you in my latest blog. I enjoyed doing it……hope you fancy the opportunity too.

  12. bzzfft

    *gasps* *wails* *drops the step stool I carry around*

    /Heightism/ exists? Of all the things… but wait! I suppose that even at my full height of 4’11” I’M somewhat heightest, but only towards males. Innnteresting…

  13. Pingback: Featured on WordPress Mother’s Day Blog & a post | Kristen Hansen Brakeman

  14. This blog made me think of my early 20’s, as I was rejected by the foxes who chased after the Alfa males and showed no more interest in me than glancing at a blade of grass next to the highway traveling at 75 MPH. And this made me think about my own personal experiences with tall women, a slightly different story from this blog, but same result due to being a Beta male.
    One 6’ tall girl, in a gym, talked to me with such a look of disinterested she couldn’t have looked or acted more uninterested if she had wanted to. I approached another, who I estimated being 5 foot 9 or 10 inches. She got angry with me for even asking her out and stuck her finger in my face informing me she didn’t date shorter men. On line, I met a girl 5’11”, and we worked out together once in my apartment complex gym, after that she did not return my two phone calls, there could be others, too, I just don’t remember them all. Now, you may say the rejections were because of my looks, that could be true, but as I approached girls closer to my height, my success rate went way up.

    This blog also made me think about the rejections by tall girls, and it angered me, but not at the time the rejection. Only years later, when I actually tallied them up, did I get angry. I was rejected not because I was fat, bald, ugly, deformed or had a rotten personality. No. The reason I was rejected by all of these women was my height. Not a one even bothered to put forth the effort to get to know me much less date me.

    I did date three women who were significantly taller than me, two at 5’11” and one at 5’10”. (I am 5’8”) And all three happened to be 32 years of age, which is more than a coincidence and a tie in with this blog. No doubt all three wanted a tall Alfa male, and lost, so a safe stable Beta male was the next best thing in their 30’s, for I certainly didn’t grow any taller and I doubt I got better looking. These women were past their prime and worried. I was in my late 30’s, at this time of my life, after being married for 10 years. It was also at this time, I could easily date younger women, and I did. When I was 38, my first girlfriend was 27, the next was 27 and the next was 24 who became my second wife. I never dated with any intent of marrying a woman my age. Younger women had no issue with me dating them, and I certainly had no issue dating them. I remember going to singles events and seeing very pretty women, who were my age, who I know 15 years earlier would not have given me the time of day. And even now, they may have looked better than myself, but now it was me who had no interest in approaching them. I did not want to take time and money away from pursuing younger women. Why go old, when I could go young? I was amazed how the dating game changed in my favor. And I used it to my advantage, just as women had done years earlier.

    I am now married and have 4 sons. I have 3 degrees, and I have co-authored 2 US patents. I could have provided a good life to any girl. I wanted a taller girl because of the physical turn on and to for fill one of my desires, yet not one single tall girl (in her 20’s) gave me a chance. I was turned down consistently and without a second thought. (Maybe due to the Alfa male fascination) So, if you find yourself in your late 20’s or early 30’s with no prospect of a husband or children in the immediate future, you have no one to blame but yourself. There were men like me, who wanted a leggy female, but they, like me, were never accorded the opportunity. (This also applies to average height women, too) And the reality is that the vast majority of tall women will not even consider a shorter man (and Beta males) until it is too late. You would think it would be obvious that if you included shorter males (and Beta males) in your suitor selection, your odds would increase of finding a mate. There are a lot more short and medium height males than there are taller ones. So my advice would be to accept the advances of all men and get to know them. I, who would have relished the opportunity of having curvy broad hips and a tapered waist to hold all night and to make love to into the early hours of the morning, was never, not once, even given a chance to start a relationship. Throw away the yardstick, for you may find someone like me, who would love to share his life and love with a tall girl.

    By the way, another tie in with this article and be found at this web site.
    http://shortguycentral.com/P-57/beware-of-the-reformed-heightist-woman
    This writer tell about his rejections in his 20’s by women only to find that women now chased after him, in spite of his height, now he is in his early 30’s. He warns of the dangers of the “Reformed Heightest Woman” who are desperate after wasting their life chasing the Alfa male and now want a stable Beta with a steady pay-check.
    Here is anther on how women who found the Mr. Average (Beta Males) were worth nothing in their 20’s and now that these women are in their 30’s can’t buy a date, even from the Beta Males
    Why women lose in the dating game

    http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/why-women-lose-the-dating-game-20120421-1xdn0.html
    During their 20s, women compete for the most highly desirable men, the Mr Bigs. Many will readily share a bed with the sporty, attractive, confident men, while ordinary men miss out. As Whiskey puts it at whiskeysplace.wordpress.com: ”Joe Average Beta Male is about as desirable to women as a cold bowl of oatmeal.”
    ”I can’t believe how many men my age are only interested in younger women,” wails Gail, a 34-year-old advertising executive as she describes her first search through men’s profiles on the RSVP internet dating site. She is shocked to find many mid-30s men have set up their profiles to refuse mail from women their own age.
    Talking to many women like her, it’s intriguing how many look back on past relationships where they let good men get away because they weren’t ready. American journalist Kate Bolick wrote recently in The Atlantic about breaking off her three-year relationship with a man she described as ”intelligent, good-looking, loyal and kind”. She acknowledged ”there was no good reason to end things”, yet, at the time, she was convinced something was missing in the relationship. That was 11 years ago. She’s is now 39 and facing grim choices.

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