Thursday, 11 September 2014

Reality TV Star Jonathan McNally commits suicide - worries about height a factor.

This is heartbreaking.

A father-of-one who was due to star in a new reality TV show set in Birmingham killed himself because he feared he was too short, an inquest has heard.

Jonathan McNally, 27, a personal trainer, was due to appear in a Birmingham version of The Only Way Is Essex called The Project after auditioning for the show in May.

However, just a few weeks later he hanged himself in a friend's back garden after a battle with depression sparked by issues over his height - despite the fact that he was 5ft 7in. 
 Speaking after Mr McNally’s inquest on Tuesday, his sister Gina McNally said: 'He had issues with his height from a young age. 'All through school he was tiny and had tests which showed he was behind by about two years. He was depressed from a young age about it. But he eventually shot up and was around 5ft 7ins. 
'Other things added to the way he felt. All this should have been picked up from when he was a child, but it never was.' 
Birmingham Coroner’s Court heard that Mr McNally, from Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, died six days after being found hanged on June 1. Coroner Louise Hunt recorded a verdict of suicide. 
At an inquest into his death, Mr McNally's family said his depression was sparked by issues over his height when he was a child, despite the fact that he eventually grew to be 5ft 7in 
Sisters Jamie, 32, Gina, 23, and Leanne, 34 , believe Mr McNally did not intend to kill himself, and blame a lack of support from metal health services for his death 
However, Mr McNally's family said they did not believe he had intended to take his own life and called for improvements in mental health services. 
Gina, aged 23 and from Sutton Coldfield, said her brother had been given tablets for his depression but more could have been done. 
She said: 'Jon had gone to the doctors but all he got were tablets. He heard voices in his head. 
'He wasn’t offered any counselling and I don’t think enough was done to help him or take care of his mental health issues. There was a lack of support.' 
Mr McNally (left), a personal trainer, died six days after hanging himself in a friend's back garden on June 1 
Older sister Leanne Harper, 32, who also attended the inquest with brother Wayne, 36, and a third sister, 34-year-old Jamie, added: 'We don’t think he wanted to commit suicide. He was up and down over the years but did his best to cover it up.' 
Jamie thanked Mr McNally’s friend Kim Myles and her neighbour Amy Daniels, who both tried to keep him alive. 
Mr McNally's parents Micky, 49, and Lynn, 56, were too upset to attend the inquest but issued a joint statement saying: 'We forgive Jon for what he did. 
'It takes a brave person to do what he did, not a coward. We love and miss him loads. 

I'm so angry right now. I'm angry about what happened and I'm so sad for his family.

What sort of society is this? Where a little boy grows up depressed because he fears being short!

Sadly we cant ask Mr McNally what he was feeling but my guess is that it was along the lines of what other shorter men report feeling. I suspect that he was worried about being picked on, of being perceived as less masculine, of being a subject of mockery for others. All the wonderful things he achieved in his life, his family, his success in TV were not enough because on some level he felt he wasn't enough. Heightism made him feel like he wasn't enough.

I know that there were other factors at play here but it's clear that Heightism scarred poor Mr McNally so badly that it was a contributing factor to his bad mental health and eventual suicide.

Next time someone tells you that Heightism doesn't matter, that it's just a joke and that you should lighten up, point them this way.

Heightism hurts. Heightism destroys families. Heightism kills men.

RIP Mr McNally

Thursday, 3 April 2014

High heels are never the answer

ABC Australia published a piece recently which you can see at the link below.

It's interesting because it takes a broad view of heightism, looking at the experiences of both taller and shorter people.

I did find it somewhat depressing however because of the contrasting ways the people in the article responded to the heightism they experienced and how these responses can be classified in my opinion.

Taller man Jeremy Eyers, prints a slogan t-shirt which effectively calls people out for staring at him - (activism)

Taller women Petra Tyers, creates support group for taller people - (activism)

Shorter man Mr Ngiau-Keng, creates shoes that make shorter men look taller, says "It's just nice to see the grooms so happy wearing the shoes and the brides very happy because in the photo's there's not going to be that height difference anymore" - (capitulation)

Shorter father and son Marco and Aaron Garboletto open a cafe called 'Two Short Men' and raise the floor behind their bar so that they appear taller then there customers - (can be seen as capitulation)

It's important when looking at these examples to bear in mind that these are just examples of people who were chosen by ABC, it's not a representative sample of how all shorter and taller people deal with heightism.

What is striking to me about these examples however is that the taller people respond to the heightism they encounter as though the fault lies with the world, not with them. By printing slogan t-shirts and creating support groups they are clearly stating that the problem lies with others perceptions.

On the other hand, the shorter people here have responded to the heightism they face as if the fault lies with them and not with the world. Mr Ngiau-Keng encourages men to change their appearance, is if it's their shortness that's at fault - not other people's prejudices. I don't like to have a go at another shorter person, and I understand that Mr Ngiau-Keng is trying to help and that this is his response to what were probably some very painful experiences in his life. Still, I'm saddened by it.

There is probably a big tongue-in-cheek element to Mr and Mr Garboletto's cafe and it's always fun to take the piss out of yourself and yet I'm still uncomfortable with this. Why does the cafe have to be about their height. Why does their height even have to be an issue? Why can't they just be the Two Awesome Chef's or something to that effect? What's the deal with the raised floor? Is it just another expression of the raised shoes?

I think I'm uncomfortable with the idea suggested by this cafe that shortness is something to be laughed at, to be noted, when really it should be something everyday and unremarkable.

I think what underlines all of this is the fact that heightism, particularly against shorter people is not really taken seriously. Perhaps Mr Ngiau-Keng's shoes exist because he knows deep down that he won't be taken seriously if he complains about all the nasty treatment that lead him to consider his height a problem in the first place - so he just tried to change his height instead?

Let's hope that articles like this begin to change minds so people don't have to buy high heeled shoes.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Business Day Live publishes shorter man hate letter

For no apparent reason, Business Day Live have published a hateful letter directed at Australian Cricketer David Warner, under the HILARIOUS title 'Warner falls short'.

You can read the letter at the above link but the essence of it is that Warner is a shorter man, so that explains why he is allegedly aggressive and argumentative. As shown in this quote.

Warner stands a mere 170cm tall — the same height as Napoleon Bonaparte. It seems likely that Mr Warner suffers from the same short-man syndrome as did many of history’s aggressive and dangerous characters.
So lets address what's wrong with this one point at time. 

Point One

For the last time world, Napoleon was average height for his time.

Also lets take a look at some of history's other aggressive and dangerous characters.

Osama bin Laden - 6 foot 4

Saddam Hussein - 6 foot 2

In fact if you look into the subject you will find that there are lots of aggressive and dangerous characters across the spectrum of height.

It's almost as though there is no correlation between height and personality. Shocking I know!

Point 2

Comparing a sportsman, however much you might dislike him, to a dictator is pretty disgusting. To my knowledge, David Warner has not instigated any wars or attempted to cease political power for himself. To compare him to a man who caused huge suffering and upheaval in people's lives is deeply unfunny.

Point 3

I don't follow cricket and I don't know David Warner. Perhaps he does say lots of things

in a highly aggressive manner designed to bring on controversy.
 and perhaps he does deserve some criticism for that. I  have no idea, but I do know that attributing this to his height in this cruel and mocking way is just wrong. Perhaps his personality is down to the fact he is a sportsman who are known for their competitive nature and well developed egos? Perhaps he was just born that way? Who knows.

Pulling out the oh-so-tired short man syndrome joke is wrong and ever so ever so dull.


Thursday, 13 February 2014

Newspaper makes fun of womens sexual assualt - in order to make a height joke.

The NY Daily News recently posted the details about the alleged sexual assault of a women at a train station in Brooklyn. It is claimed that a shorter man fondled her before running away.

Sadly the NY Daily News didn't just report this story, they decided to lace it with heightism puns, because shorter people are hilarious!!

Some quotes

This little guy is going to be in big trouble when cops get their hands on him.

He's short geddit!! And he'll be in BIG trouble. Lolz!

 A man described as being “extremely short in stature” grabbed an unsuspecting woman’s backside at a Brooklyn train station and then hightailed it out of there

He hightailed it. Because he's short. Geddit! LOOOOLLLLzZZ!

They also refer to the man as a

tiny creep

There is an element of mockery here which is really cruel. The women involved in this case has suffered a traumatic experience, no one reporting on it should mine it for silly jokes. The jokes may not be directed at her, but she is the one who suffers from them. Linking her suffering with a few cheap jokes cheapens her and implies that her assault is funny too.

I also wonder if this story would even have made the papers if it had not involved a shorter man and lacked, what in some people's eyes, is a comedy element. I'm told that assaults of this nature on public transport are, sadly, fairly common. I imagine in a such a big metropolis as New York they happen every day if not several times a day.  Yet they don't seem to make the papers. Only this story with it's comedy shorter man has made the news.

I feel really sorry for this poor women.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

They never say this about taller people

I saw a trailer for some sort of reality show today, one of those American ones which focuses on people running a business. Each member of the team was introduced with some comment about what they brought to the business. No comment was made about their bodies. Even the women, who was very beautiful, was only described in terms of her skills and no mention was made to her being 'hot' which is somewhat unusual and was nice to see.

There was a shorter man on the team and they said something along the lines of 'This is Bob, he's only 5 foot 5 but he has a big heart'.

Why on Earth did they feel the need to say this? It was almost like they were apologising for the fact that he was a shorter man. It felt like what they were saying is 'Hey everyone this is Bob, he's short, but don't let that worry you, he is still a fully functional human being with the normal amount of human emotions.'

The tone of the comment made it seem like being shorter was a defect so bad it needed to be offset by some other positive quality.

It's this sort of thing, just quietly tucked away in the back ground of everyday life, that I want to show people when they claim that 'heightism' isn't a thing. If no one cares how tall you are, why do people feel the need to explain away a mans height.

Friday, 31 January 2014

A women's view on heightism

Yet more articles prompted by the Oxford study. This piece was written by Daisy Buchanan, a journalist writing for the Telegraph not the one of Great Gatsby fame, and it's a really good read.

As a shorter women I found this section written by particularly interesting.

Looking back, I think my problems were mainly to do with my own insecurities. I’m no giant, at 5”7, but I’ve been that height since I was 12, and when the other girls around me seemed delicate and petite, I always felt a bit ungainly. It took me a long time to feel feminine on my own terms, but being on the arm of a tall man did the trick.

It's really sad to hear of yet more unnecessary pain and mental anguish caused by heightism.

Ms. Buchanan goes on to describe her initial prejudices against shorter men, but how she overcame them when she met her boyfriend. She goes on to decry the general prejudice against shorter men.

This next section particularly chimed with me.

Very occasionally, in my online dating days, I’d encounter men who would be ultra specific about a preferred hair colour, body shape or breast type, and be outraged. Surely you’ve got to be horribly shallow and creepy if you’re basing your requirements for long term happiness on cup size? But it seems far more common, and far more acceptable for women to rule out romantic suitors because they don’t measure up in feet and inches. It’s a damaging double standard, and one that women need to address if they’re looking for love, otherwise they might find themselves staying single for a long time.
 I particularly enjoyed the way she signs off the article.

 If single women make one dating resolution for 2014, I think they should give a shorter guy a chance. You might end up looking down a lot, but your odds of finding The One can only go up.

Good advice for all. 

Sean O'Grady's excellent comments on Oxford shorter people study

The story about the Oxford University study I mentioned in my last post has really taken off and been picked up by many news outlets, usually under patronising headlines about short man syndrome - alas.

However I really enjoyed this take on it written by Sean O'Grady, who writes for the Independent. It's great to see his take on the situation so do pop over there to have a look.

I particularly enjoyed his closing comments.

I would prefer to see a study of "Tall Man Syndrome", to discover whether those over, say, 6ft are predisposed to be arrogant, bossy and perhaps a bit too relaxed about their position in life. Or maybe, as I crane my neck to catch a glimpse of these tall poppies, I'm just being insecure.