Is Shortness a Physical Disability?

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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.

Summary

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.]

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28 Responses to “Is Shortness a Physical Disability?”

  1. brightstormyday Says:

    This reminds me of my English teacher in high school.

    He was so awesome, and he was fairly short. (a bit shorter than me).

    There was a neighboring history teacher talking to him; said teacher was six and a half feet tall.

    This one girl walking in said (to my English teacher),”OMG, from the corner of my eye I thought you grew over a foot.”

    The history teacher said,’yes, he finally hit puberty.” (He said things like this to everyone and about everyone)

    I found it amusing. The English teacher laughed. One of my fave teachers of all time, no lie.

    Personality plays a huge role in whether people like you or not. My ex was six and a half feet tall, and was at once the skinny,gangly, awkward white guy. He transformed his personality so he no longer was that way.

    Though he’s still skinny. He gave me a piggy back ride a month ago and his bones stabbed into my thighs.

  2. jmkaye Says:

    I’ve always preferred men who were shorter than average, mostly because I hate having to crane my neck when I talk to someone. Also, having been the youngest child in my family, I’m hypersensitive about people looking down at me.

  3. Default User Says:

    @BsD

    Personality plays a huge role in whether people like you or not. My ex was six and a half feet tall, and was at once the skinny,gangly, awkward white guy. He transformed his personality so he no longer was that way.

    You mean he became a cool black dude? ha ha!

    Are you tall, or taller than average? It seems a lot of women that posted on Roissy were taller than average (chic, poetry, sofia, and perhaps others).

  4. Default User Says:

    @jmkaye
    I have often wondered about that, especially when I see couples with a large height difference. My guess is that the man been a few inches taller is “ideal.”

    Do you see yourself like the Velma character in some particular way (per your current gravater)?

    I am not sure what Scooby character I would be. Probably not Fred (although the assumed alpha his style of dress was a bit swissy), I may be a bit dorky but I am no “shaggy,” maybe I could be Scooby (after all on the Internet nobody knows you are a dog tee hee hee!).

  5. jmkaye Says:

    My gravatar is a kind of joke, I thought of it after making this post, and decided it suited me better than The Dragon Lady.

    You can always be the bad guy who says “And I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids!”

  6. brightstormyday Says:

    @Default User:

    lol, u r so funnehhhh.

    I’m average height, bordering on short. I think we already talked about this. If I recall correctly, you and I may have had the same height/weight over the summer.

  7. Default User Says:

    @Velma

    You can always be the bad guy who says “And I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids!”

    Hmmm! The bad boy. If I had been a real PUA I would have thought of that.
    ***
    Velma: Yes! Roissy in DC is really. . . [pulls mask off]. . . Default User.
    Crowd: Gasp!
    Chic Noir *dead faint*
    Default: Yeah and I would have fooled them all, even Lady Raine, if it wasn’t for you pesky kids.
    Scooby: Roof roof. Scoooby Doooby Dooo.
    ***
    Speaking of pesky kids, I will have to check up on Sofia and her questions about older men.

  8. Default User Says:

    brightandshortyday

    I’m average height, bordering on short.

    The Goldilocks effect. Not too tall, not to small, just right.

  9. newly divorced Says:

    I think being a very confident short guy is actually an awesome position in society. Since social norms favor tall guys, a powerful short man actually signals that he must be a badass. How else could he be so confident/successful?

    I’m of normal height by the way but I’m always impressed by short guys who can be socially dominant.

  10. Linkage is Good for You: Leaner, Meaner Edition | In Mala Fide Says:

    […] Default User – “Is Shortness a Physical Disability?” […]

  11. Default User Says:

    @newly divorced
    While I would not consider myself particularly socially dominant, I do believe that shortness can become a form of peacocking (to use a PUA term).

  12. brightstormyday Says:

    ugh, but short guys have to be careful. There is nothing worse than a short guy trying to overcompensate for his height.

    ew.

  13. Default User Says:

    @brightstormyday

    but short guys have to be careful. There is nothing worse than a short guy trying to overcompensate for his height.

    Very true. The so-called Napoleon complex. I do not believe that I fall into that trap. . .

    . . .Maybe the Napoleon Dynamite complex though.

  14. brightstormyday Says:

    Not remotely. At all.

    I’ve met one who has though. He was also convinced that he was a gentleman from Texas.

    ugh.

  15. collegeboy Says:

    I can’t find the link but their was this study that proved humans are getting shorter and stouter. Evolution is still in its works. I kind of have a theory as to why but It would come across as crazy.

    Now as far as people being short and their range of “ability.” I’ll never forget my best friend in middle/high school. He was a really short guy at a mere 5’2 or 5’3 and he pulled just as much tail as the jocks. I myself for a very short time went out with a chick of about 5’11 a couple of inches taller than me but to quote her she loved me for my “attitude.”

    Now a common misconception of guys applying game is to overcompensate for whatever disability they have but thats where guys are wrong.

    Its about maximizing your strengths not exaggerating and minimizing your weaknesses not ignoring them.

    Sounds like I’m describing overcompensation but re-read that again.

  16. Default User Says:

    @collegeboy
    I would be interested in your theory. If you can’t share crazy theories on the Internet then where?

    I agree with you maximizing strengths and minimizing (but not ignoring) your weaknesses. Over compensation is try-too-hard and thus doomed to failure. Overcompensation also brings into focus that which you are overcompensating for.

    Regarding your 5’11” chick: a case of attitude defining altitude? :/

  17. Rebekah Says:

    “I do not believe that the status effects of height work for women as they do for men.”

    Maybe. But it’s easy to feel lost around my friends who are tall–I kind of feel invisible. I definitely think being tall works to a girl’s advantage, too; they just seem more confident or something and seem to be treated as such. I always thought tall women were so pretty and really wanted to be taller when I was in my teens.

  18. Default User Says:

    @Rebekah
    Height definitely conveys status (just think of the term “looks up to”). I know that US presidents, and male CEOs tend to be taller than average. I wonder if the same is true for female CEOs and heads of state.

    I think some of the “looks prettier” thing is because tall women may appear slimmer (for equal build). Of course, they will tend to have longer legs, so perhaps that is it (I think some of the long-legs thing is also about the appearance of slimness and shapeliness). I believe that male height is inherited from the mother while female height comes from the father, so there might be some “sexy son hypothesis” evo-prompting at work.

    I know it is difficult to break it down to component parts but a woman’s height does not seem to make a major difference to my attraction to her. I have had (requited and unrequited) attraction to women of various heights. Strangely woman that are a lot shorter than average and I seem to share mutual disinterest. Perhaps this makes sense; after all does the world really need more short people

    Of course, the average girl will easily be able to find men that are taller than her. Perhaps been taller than the average woman while remaining no taller than the average man is best. The average white male in the US is about 5’10”. Perhaps the “ideal” height for a woman is between 5’5″ (average white female) and 5’9″ (although with heels she would be slightly taller than the average man).

  19. Rebekah Says:

    I think taller women do look slimmer–and they always have long graceful necks. I’ve always had a short neck…along with shorter everything…legs, etc. 😦 But, perhaps I’m not short after all! If your stats are correct I just made the cut-off for “ideal” coming in at 5’5″. I seem to have several friends who are 5’8″/5’9″ish, and when they wear heels they’re like mannequins in a store window. I’d like to say I make up for it in personality, but we already covered the introvert issue…

    And very interesting that the female’s height comes from her father–mine’s 6’2″, but my mom is a few inches shorter than I am.

    Interesting fact on the CEO’s.

  20. brightstormyday Says:

    Hey, tall women can be slender and all, but sometimes, when I think of really tall women, I think of one of my scary aunts or some other girls I see around campus.

    They might be tall, but they’re just…BIG. Not necessarily fat (though one is) but they just look….BIG. Big boned I guess.

    Every height has its pros/cons.

    I’d say to be happy with your petite stature! Then you’ll look like a dolly. :3 My great great (great?) grandmother was five one. My great great (great?) grandfather basically “found” her in France (crossed the border between France and Spain and came back with a wife). Family stories say that she looked just like a little porcelain doll.

    You’re gorgeous! You have a good height! Don’t fret. :/

  21. Default User Says:

    @Rebekah
    As brightstormy says above: every height has its pros and cons.

    Some tall (big boned but not fat) women can look inelegant in a way a large big-boned man would not.

    On the introvert issue, you might consider that a tall introvert might be perceived as more gawky (the “big bird” look) than a woman of average height.

  22. Default User Says:

    @brightstormy

    You’re gorgeous! You have a good height! Don’t fret. :/

    Thanks! :/

  23. brightstormyday Says:

    Wut.

  24. Default User Says:

    wut
    jk.

  25. Rebekah Says:

    @brightstormyday:

    Aww, thanks so much. That was really sweet. Your ancestors sound beautiful–what a romantic story!

    I agree, one benefit is that when I stand next to a tall girl I feel small and cute! Haha.

    @Default:

    True. Every height has its pros and cons: we should all just be happy with who we are. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    That wouldn’t be nearly as much fun to blog about!

  26. Default User Says:

    @Rebekah

    Every height has its pros and cons: we should all just be happy with who we are. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    That wouldn’t be nearly as much fun to blog about!

    True, but it is hard to change your height so worrying about it won’t do a lot of good either. Blogging about it is another matter. . .

  27. gunslingergregi Says:

    ”””’I agree with you maximizing strengths and minimizing (but not ignoring) your weaknesses. Over compensation is try-too-hard and thus doomed to failure. Overcompensation also brings into focus that which you are overcompensating for.

    ””””’

    Not really if you overcompensate for lack of money by getting a lot it will actually work out well.

    If overcompensate at work so you don’t have to work also works out.

  28. Default User Says:

    @gunslingergregi
    The trick with money is to remember that the money itself is not the goal; it is the things money give you are the goal (independence, nice stuff, etc.).

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