Height Privilege is Overrated

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There’s no denying the advantages of being tall. 

Tall people are able to reach higher to get something off the top shelf and can see over a crowd.  It is a competitive advantage in many sports where factors like wing span or vertical leap can potentially earn millions and worldwide popularity.

It is a distinct social advantage to be tall.  Height seems to increase a candidates chances for winning elections, statistics show that taller men fare better in wage earning and in attracting female attention.  It is historical too, tall men seem to have been admired since at least the time of king Saul:

“Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.” (1 Samuel 9:2)

Height is a factor in how people judge qualifications and character.  Short men who gain power are besmirched with the ‘Napoleon complex’ label to describe them.  I can’t imagine a tall man being called a weasel or rodent.  Furthermore, why is person lacking character called a “low life” or an insult to “belittle” a person?

This is obviously systemic discrimination and an insidious prejudice that seeps into the very way we construct language, right?

According to a Slate article, “Short Changed,” the proof is in the numbers:

“Economists have known for a long time that it pays to be tall. Multiple studies have found that an extra inch of height can be worth an extra $1,000 a year or so in wages, after controlling for education and experience. If you’re 6 feet tall, you probably earn about $6,000 more than the equally qualified 5-foot-6-inch shrimp down the hall.”

Armed with this knowledge, one could peg many things lacking in their life to their not being tall, they could claim their leadership skills have been overlooked because they were shorter than another candidate or claim their ambitions would be cast in a more favorable light if they had been accompanied by a 6′-2″ commanding presence.  A single guy of shorter stature could accuse women of being superficial and small-minded for rejecting him and could possibly be right.

But this also gives a lame excuse for lack of effort and honesty…

Maybe a guy is short and a jerk?

Or he’s not actually qualified despite his oversized ego?

Statistics tell us a story and they probably do indication some slight injustice towards short men.  But some damage could be self-inflicted as well.  When a person assumes they are handicapped or victims of discrimination they can react in a way that damages their own reputation and the conditions they create for themselves cause their own disadvantage.  If taller men have a psychological edge, then shorter men may be more prone to inferiority complex and a lack of confidence that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Life isn’t fair and there is no simple solutions to correcting these types of subtle injustices.  Measures taken to fix privileges of height based in overall statistics would likely create only another level of injustice if other disadvantages were not also considered.  How can we decide the benefits of beauty so that ugly people are properly compensated or determine what was a product of simple lack of trying?  Should we punish those naturally confident to make life fairer for those of timid disposition?  It is impossible to right every wrong.  It is hard to find who owes who when all things are taken into account.

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Nick Vujicic and Kanae Miyahara

My advise is to use disadvantages (real or perceived) as motivation rather than as an excuse to fail.  Nick Vujicic, pictured above with his wife, was not only born short, but he also has no legs and arms, but that didn’t doom him to a life of despair. 

Some of us have likely been discriminated against more than others on the basis of our height, age, gender, weight, ethnicity, race or beauty, but it should never be our excuse to hide behind.  We all have unique challenges, but these challenges we face can prove our strength of character and overcoming these giants will be to our credit.

It is interesting that the man who was picked to lead after king Saul (who had turned out to be an irresponsible and jealous man) was not picked for his unusual height or beauty:

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7)

David, the king who followed Saul’s reign, despite flaws, had courage and made no excuses.  David’s claim to fame was slaying the giant Goliath who had taunted Saul and his army to a contest that nobody including the tall king was willing to take on.  What David lacked compared to Saul in stature or notable appearance he made up for with faith and a good heart.

Short or tall it is better to be a David (or married to one) than a Saul.  Heart trumps height even if nobody but God notices.  So make no excuses and take on the challenges before you without fear or doubt.

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6 thoughts on “Height Privilege is Overrated

  1. sweetlittlemennonite

    Well done! You speak of the male shortness disadvantage in the same way the masses speak of other statistical disadvantages… and you poke fun at it.

    “It is impossible to right every wrong. It is hard to find who owes who when all things are taken into account.
    My advise is to use disadvantages (real or perceived) as motivation rather than as an excuse to fail.”

    ^That’s very good. Following that advice won’t guarantee success, but it should make one happier.

    You speak a lot of truth in this post. I actually thought of Nick Vujicic before I got to the part where you mentioned him.

    I like this one! It’s not too lengthy, and your message rings clear.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The desire to find solutions to injustice is good. Unfortunately there are no easy solutions to some problems, especially when there’s exceptions like Vujicic who defy the seemingly impossible odds against them and don’t seem to be bound.

    I think sometimes a little humor is probably the best solution…

    Like

  3. gingrichdk

    A good post.

    About David, though: I’ve often wondered why, after all that fuss about man looking on the outside but God looking on the heart, the author of 1 Samuel only five verses later thinks it’s important to say, “Now [David] was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome.” Maybe it was important to people, including the author, even if it wasn’t to God? I’m not sure what it all means, but at least it means there’s also hope for those of us who are tall, dark, and handsome. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dave

    This is all very funny. I’m 5’8″. You know how you make height a non-factor? You destroy the guy in the parking lot in front of the girl. Nothing works like that does. I hammered so many tall guys in the ring and in the parking lots that this all seems very humorous to me. I was built like a weight lifter and had good looks, too – but nothing works like demolishing the tall guy in a fight. He never acts tall around you again – I guarantee. Destroying him at arm wrestling in front of the girl works very well also. Height means nothing.

    Like

    • I don’t generally condone fighting. However, I will say that I am able to hold my own, I wrestled in high school and I am great shape for 36 years old. I’m not afraid of someone just because they are a bit taller or bigger. The bigger they are the harder they fall.

      Like

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