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2010 January 24
by Stanley Quan

Being tall feels different from being short.

Through all of elementary school, all of middle school, and half of high school, I was one of the shorter kids in my grade. In school pictures, I was usually in the front row. Day after day, I had grown accustomed to the perspective of always looking up toward the world. Little did I know, my life would soon dramatically change. My adolescent growth spurt finally came and I sprung from 5’5” to 5’11”.

It’s hard to understand the difference that half a foot makes unless you’ve actually lived in both worlds. Almost six feet tall, I gradually gained a newfound and seemingly natural self-confidence. I’m not really sure why it happened, and this may sound artificial, but just something about “being tall” made me believe in myself more. Over the span of a year, going from literally looking up to people to looking down to them, is pretty crazy if you think about it.

Being tall definitely has its pluses and minuses.

(+) It’s easier for you to reach things that are high above, and you can see above large crowds. People also seem to give you more respect when they meet you.

(-) Others ask you to help reach things that are high above, and sometimes you get labeled “the tall one.” You also have to duck out of the way of many more low-hanging tree branches.

It may seem odd, but I think there is definitely a difference in the way people treat you depending on your height. In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell polled about half of the Fortune 500 companies and found that the majority of their CEOs were tall, white men who averaged just under 6 feet tall (The average American man is 5’9”). That’s a fascinating statistic, because height should logically have no affect on corporate success. But the poll indicates otherwise. Gladwell goes on to say that “there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that height — particularly in men — does trigger a certain set of very positive, unconscious associations.” Perhaps this is the reason for the drastic change I felt when I suddenly grew tall halfway through high school.

In a society that constantly discusses racism and sexism, it’s interesting that, though heightism may be the most basic prejudice in man, it is the least talked about.

More: Taller and Tallest

6 Responses
  1. January 24, 2010

    I think like each inch is another $10,000 I read somewhere.

    Your 6″0 by the way =D

  2. Amy (short person) permalink
    January 24, 2010


  3. January 24, 2010

    I’ve never been tall. I used to comfort myself by saying, ‘Well, at least I can be an astronaut!’…but you really only need to be under 6’3″ or something like that, so it wasn’t very helpful.

    But I think I can hazard a guess as to why heightism is not discussed as much. The bias tends to be social, so unlike racism and sexism, it doesn’t have a history of institutional discrimination.

  4. Edward permalink
    January 28, 2010

    I’ll prove you guys wrong.

  5. January 28, 2010

    I’d never bet against you, Edward :)

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