Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The Telegraph - Why would you even ask this 'Napoleon Complex' question?

Recently Art Garfunkel was interviewed by the Telegraph, by Nigel Farndale. I didn't pick the interview up because it's behind a paywall, but it's been summarised by a website I've never seen before called Breitbart.

It is entitled 'Art Garfunkel: Paul Simon a jerk with short man syndrome'

Here is the key passage

When asked if 5’3” Simon might suffer from a Napoleonic complex, Garfunkel replied: “I think you’re on to something. I would say so, yes.”
He then claimed he initiated a friendship with the short man in school because he felt sorry for him, and offered his love as compensation. He added: “that compensation gesture has created a monster.”

I have no idea what actually went down between Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon. I wasn't born and I don't care. I'm assuming the interviewer, Nigel Farndale, wasn't there either - so why does he jump to the conclusion that Paul Simon's decision to stop performing with Art Garfunkel was related to his height and the mythical short man syndrome?

Why not simply ask 'Why do you think Paul Simon stopped performing with you'?

Why phrase the question in such an offensive way? Was it an attempt to be insightful? If so it was a cheap shot.

As for Art Garfunkel's comments, well, I now have my own working theory as to why Paul Simon might not have wanted to be in his company any longer.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Height - the other wage gap!

This article from the Atlantic takes a look at recent studies which seek to examine why shorter people tend to earn less and be less likely to acquire executive roles then taller people.

The article seems to suggest that nutrition is the major factor because as well as growing taller a well nourished child is more likely to have better social skills and be more intelligent - thus making them more employable.

No where in the article does it say that any of the studies cited have considered that the wage gap may be due to heightism, although there is an acknowledgement that taller children tend to be treated better.

It's a good article in terms of the statistics it provides about the difficulties faced by shorter people, but it's frustrating that it doesn't give heightism the consideration it deserves.


Thursday, 9 April 2015

"Probably that I'm short, that might not be what everyone expects."

I came across an article today about Minnesota Women's Business Hall of fame and 8 women who are about to join this institution.

Amongst the eight women is Esperanza Guerrero-Anderson who runs her own consultancy firm. The article states

She climbed the corporate ladder quickly, citing just one small obstacle.
“Probably that I am short, that might not be what everyone expects,” Guerrero-Anderson said.
But while she may be short, her career accomplishments certainly aren’t.


Here it seems to me that Ms Guerroro-Anderson is highlighting societies prevailing attitude, that assertiveness is a trait that belongs exclusively to taller people.

It reminded me of an incident from my past, one which I might have spoken about before. Many years ago I lived in a block of flats and there were a number of problems with them. I decided to try and get some of the residents together to discuss these issues and I arranged a meeting and advertised by leafleting, rather then knocking on doors and speaking to people in person. No one had seen me before the meeting.

After the meeting I got to chatting with one of the men who had attended. He was a fairly tall man. He made a comment which confused me at the time, but that I now think I understand. He said something along the lines of "I was shocked by how short you were when you opened the door. I expected to look straight into your eyes."

Now in fairness I am shorter then average so I suppose my height can surprise people. But what I now wonder, in the light of Ms Guerroro-Anderson's comments is if he was shocked because he didn't expect a shorter person to behave in the assertive way that I did. Organising that meeting was an assertive act, almost an act of leadership. I do wonder if his surprise at my height was partly based on his internalised heightism? Did he subconsciously view my actions as those of a taller person? He had no other reason to suppose I was going to be as tall as him. He was a perfectly nice man and his comments were not intended to hurt me or even said in a critical matter, just said in a very matter of fact way.

I suppose I'll never know.

Friday, 20 March 2015

A clarification about this blog's comments policy.

Today I received a comment from a reader on one of my old blog entries, which was about shoe lifts.

The reader commented that he felt that shoe lifts gave some men confidence.

I am open to debate about the issue and I am happy to allow comments of that nature in most cases.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, the reader's comment also included a link to a website which sells shoe lifts.

I'm not prepared to allow that. My blog is an anti heightism space and I don't want to encourage my readers to buy products that encourage heightist thinking.

I couldn't find a way to keep the comment while loosing the link, so unfortunately it was necessary to remove the comment entirely.

I hope that has provided some clarification.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Apparently film stars are shorter because they are more 'touchy-feely'

First off, sorry for the extended absence. Life gets in the way!

Apparently it's a slow news day as the Daily Mail have kindly brought us this gem.

"Why ARE today's stars so short?" Emphasis on the 'are' is theirs.

Subheading 'Actors were once strapping hunks and muscular specimens. Now the modern leading man is more likely to be required to burst into tears, says Quentin Letts.'


The article starts with the line 'Actors were once strapping hunks, thick thighed he-men who only had to arrive at a film premier to make everyone's eyes bulge. 

To illustrate this point the article includes an infographic of actors who came in at over 6 foot tall.

It conveniently leaves out famous actors who didn't fit in with this image including possibly the most famous actor ever Laurence Olivier (reportedly 5 foot 6) , famous heartthrob Rudolph Valentino (reportedly 5 foot 10), Richard Burton famously sexy actor married to screen siren Elisabeth (reportedly 5 foot 10), James Dean famously sexy rebel without a cause (reportedly 5 foot 8) and Steve McQueen once known as the King of Cool who was reportedly 5 foot 9.

The article is then full of charming comments such as this one discussing the actor Eddie Redmayne, describing his appearance in the audience at the 2015 Oscar ceremony.

'The actress Cate Blanchett loomed over him - she look so much bigger then him, he could have been her lunch'

At least we now know the real reason there are not many shorter actors in Hollywood. Cate Blanchett eats them all.

Other highlights include . . .

Generally, films these days are less likely to contain the sort of bar brawls, tough-guy scraps and derring-do scenes requiring brawn. The modern leading man is more likely to be required to burst into tears and go shopping. 

By the way does any one remember that Yul Brynner, reportedly 5 foot 8, played a gun fighter in the Magnificent Seven?

The hunks of old Hollywood were gorgeously suited, big as nightclub bouncers and radiated reliability. But today such men have given way to fluttering, scrawny types in torn denims, who perhaps - like Eddie Redmayne - model Burberry machintoshes in their spare time. 

The article blames Feminism and Hollywood directors for this apparent change between shorter actors and taller actors. It claims that directors want to show men as emotionally responsive and suggests that shorter actors are therefore more desirable. It also contradicts itself by pointing out that famously shorter actor Tom Cruise takes steps to make himself appear taller and that Arnold Schwarzenegger felt the need to conceal his true height.

What annoys me about this, is that I know that somewhere there will be a shorter man or perhaps young boy who will be reading this and taking in all of the negativity that is being spewed his way. He will be internalising the message that if he is a shorter man he isn't  truly masculine but that he is a 'fluttering scrawny type' who will look ridiculous if he even stands next to a women who is taller then him.

To me the tone of the article seems to suggest that real masculinity has been whittled away by Hollywood. I think that the problem is our heightist society's failure to accept that masculinity comes in men of lots of shapes and sizes, some of the taller and shorter.

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.