What's So Great About Being Tall?

America's cult of tallness is creating ugly fallout

| Web Specials Archives

In PC circles, no one would breathe a detrimental word about race or creed. But bring around a short male, and tongues slip. If a petite guy throws a typical male temper tantrum, the tall men all mutter about his 'Napoleon complex.' White women who brag about dating non-white men play the 'let's just be friends' card if a guy's short. This syndrome, of course, extends to the general female populace: As one post to the alt.support.short newsgroup notes, a recent poll showed 93 percent of women told their dating service to screen out prospects under 5'6'.

Meanwhile, many tall men (and their girlfriends/wives) seem to believe their tallness to be reflective of excess virility, and find unending occasion to remark on it. In alt.support.tall, one 6'0' giant whines about using a port-o-potty (which he assumes was designed by 'tiny-tiny-short people!'), 'I'll never attempt to use one of those things again!' I feel your pain, Mister.

Height feuds might seem trivial, but America's cult of tallness is creating some ugly fallout. Technology watchdogs like Andrew Kimbrell of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Technology Assessment warn of the increasing use of genetically engineered human growth hormones. Once prescribed only for dwarfs and children lacking natural growth hormones, doctors -- encouraged by hormone makers and anxious parents -- are handing out hormones to thousands of children who simply lack tall genes. 'It's pathologizing shortness,' says Kimbrell, 'and it increases the existing prejudice against short people.'

If anything, we should encourage shortness, charges Thomas Samaras, author of The Truth About Your Height (Tecolote, $24.95). As the US population continues its average inch up per generation, the extra resource consumption and carbon dioxide created will ensure America's spot as primo world resource hog. We should rethink our 'tall is beautiful' culture, he suggests in New Age Journal (May/June 1995), and begin to celebrate shortness.

Thomas Samaras
12/8/2010 6:02:08 PM

Hi Helen, Enjoyed your article on height. Just wanted to update you on my work since 1992. I have had over 35 papers and books published on the ramifications of increasing height and body size. A list of my papers and books is available from my website: www.humanbodysize.com If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Sincerely, Tom Samaras