Following on (quietly of course, because I am an introvert) from my post wondering if introversion is a mental illness I wonder if shortness is a physical disability. Is it treatable? Should we treat it?
My answers are: Yes (in a “letter of the law” manner), Not really, No.
As with the introversion post there is an element of humor in the question. However there is also a more serious question regarding the nature versus nurture problem. Just as the born introvert (nature) will make different choices and have different experiences (nurture), the tall person (nature) may have different experiences and make different choices. Both of those: choices and experiences affect outcomes.
Observant readers may have noticed (although I am sure I would not have noticed) that I reversed the experience and choices when comparing introversion and height. This was deliberate because I believe that differences in version (intro/extra) change how the person treats the world, while difference in height change how the world treats the person.
So, is shortness a physical disability?
By the letter of the law, I suppose it is. It could be a disability in the same way that any deviation from expectations could be considered a disability (extreme height could also be considered a disability). Of course, in any true meaning of the word the answer is not really. Aside from high shelves and ill-fitting clothes shortness provides little impediment to normal living (excessive height is probably far worse in this regard). However, height is associated with health, status, power, and of course linked to male sexual attractiveness. Lack of height is not without downsides.
Is it treatable?
The providers of expensive growth hormone treatment would like you to believe that the answer is yes. The treatments are expensive (tens of thousands of dollars per year), and require daily injections for several years. Most children will receive no more than an extra 2 inches in final adult height. So by the letter of the law it is treatable, but why bother? Spend those thousands of dollars on education, custom fitted clothes, or (if you are into that type of thing) a PUA course. Any of those will likely make a greater difference to you (or your child’s) outcomes than an extra two inches of height.
Should we treat it?
No. See above. My theory is that late puberty is far more damaging to a young man’s confidence than final adult height. I would take advancing puberty ahead of his peers instead of adding two inches of height to set a young man up in life. The teenager that is ahead (more mature, deeper voice, more adult musculature, etc.) of his peers will get a greater boost in confidence (admiration of peers, assumed leadership, the attraction of women, etc.) than a few inches of adult height. I would rather be 5 and half feet of unstoppable confidence than 6 feet four inches of dork.
Field Tested Results
As you might have guessed, I am below average male height. While smallness impeded me somewhat in my teens (later puberty had a far worse effect), shortness has had negligible effect on my adult life. I have no doubt that extra height would have helped, but lack of it has not really hurt.
Despite females stated preference for tall males, I have not suffered too much because of my shortness. I am slim and have a good physique and that helps. I have dated women that were slightly taller (especially in heels) with little problem. I have never dated any woman a lot taller then me. This is partly due to the “intimidation” factor (I am as prey to societal expectations as others), but mostly due to more practical concerns: How can she rest her head on your shoulder if that shoulder is six inches below her chin? How can you smoothly give her a kiss if you are standing on tippy-toes.
My introversion means that I put myself forward less for leadership positions, my lack of height might mean that I am looked to less for leadership. Taken together I may not have achieved my full potential here, but really, I cannot blame height.
Despite what I said above, I do believe there is (for males) an advantage in height. The ideal (all other things equal) height for a male is probably 6’2″ to 6’4″. That is above average but still within the normal range. For women I believe average height is best. Female attractiveness is more about proportion, symmetry, and youthfulness. We do not expect women to be tall, and I do not believe that the status effects of height work for women as they do for men. I guess I would prefer to be tall(er) but will happily live with being short(er).
Comments, tall or short, are welcomed.
[I will not give preference to tall comments nor will I discriminate against short comments.]