He Was 5'7". After Surgery, He’ll Be 5'10".
April 30, 2022 5:04 PM   Subscribe

For Scott, demeaning comments about height are everywhere — whether in his personal life or in pop culture. “When I see a woman that is 5'8", I’m like, ‘That’s a tall woman,’” she says to the camera. “But when I see a man that is 5'8", I’m like, ‘Look! A garden gnome!’” In the comments, users had added to the bit: “No because who let him out unsupervised.” Humiliation flashed across Scott’s face. “Before the surgery, I was 5'7". I was not even a garden gnome to her.”
posted by geoff. (135 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
First time I heard about this was through this piece, which is just tragic and worth a read.

I’m 5’7” as well, all my friends are taller generally. Never really felt bad about my height but I’m also one of the taller people in my family. Hopefully these guys find some peace without anything bad happening like in the article I linked.
posted by bxvr at 5:18 PM on April 30 [20 favorites]


I read this article earlier, and found it moving. I do not have a single hot take on whether he was right or wrong to get surgery. I don't like it, but it's not there for me to like. And as a woman constantly struggling with body issues, I recognized this instantly: “No amount of anti-anxiety medication or verbal talk therapy could get the world to stop treating me like this,” he said. “I could have a great session for five hours, and I would still go on the internet and see ‘Men below this height shouldn’t have rights.’”

When we're young and our peers bully us, well-meaning authority figures will respond to it with, "Well, you don't need to be friends with those people anyway. They're jerks! Good people will like you for who you truly are." And you know you're not allowed to answer: I don't want good people to like me. I want fun people to like me. Rich people. Hot people. I want everybody to like me. It seems like he's been surrounded with some truly terrible dudes, and he just wants to be accepted without having to sound the goodness of people for once.

But I don't hold with anyone thinking that getting their bones broken and rehealed is going to earn them thousands of dollars more over their lifetimes or a wife guaranteed to weigh under 130 pounds. It's too mechanistic a solution. As someone who's lost large amounts of weight, I can say that the insecurity will stay right where you put it.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:21 PM on April 30 [72 favorites]


Bob Dylan is definitely a garden gnome by this definition.
posted by y2karl at 5:36 PM on April 30 [5 favorites]


I think articles like this are good. It can be an on-ramp for those who otherwise are advantaged to gain a tiny slice of empathy about how society treats/oppresses others.
Many of us will roll out eyes and say "short dudes, welcome to the club/prison of societal mistreatment - take a seat behind the religious minorites, ethnic minorities, the overweight, those with disabilities and soeech impediments, women, LGBTs, the not-traditionally attractive, the poor etc oops , don't take a seat back there, you won't be able to see anything!".

I'm 5'6" male and had a basketball sized beer belly from 7yrs old onward but otherwise am in the "normal" (priviledged) category in my nation. If shortness is your biggest challenge and you are tall enough to use vehicles and furniture, maybe you could spend $75k on people who need it more than you? Reparations and making things handicap accessible seem like better uses of resources.

Well, that's my 2 cents.
posted by anecdotal_grand_theory at 5:43 PM on April 30 [27 favorites]


I'm on the taller side, so I can't directly relate, but I appreciated the article and found it interesting. I very, very rarely hear comments about height in real life, but it seems like a much more prevalent thing in popular culture. Not just movies and shows, but also in cruel exchanges that get posted in places like r/tinder. I can remember first reading about height-increasing surgery about ten years ago, and it sounds like it is getting more common.

I hope the person profiled in the article finds the happiness he is looking for, though I wonder if it will be that straightforward.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:54 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]


I'm 5'4" in shoes, so I feel the "get over yourself" stuff. But, it's his body and his money so I guess he can do what he wants.

My main takeaway from this was: you can make that much money in a year doing OnlyFans? I'm in the wrong business.
posted by blnkfrnk at 5:56 PM on April 30 [6 favorites]


I wonder how a significant increase to the longest bone changes the biomechanics of your entire body—balance, joint stress, etc.

I’m probably going to have to get least one knee replaced eventually, and I’m told it can also help correct my not insignificant bowed legs. Makes me wonder the same thing. Will my pronated ankles hurt more or less? Will I have to basically relearn how to walk? The body adapts, I guess. Although less the older we get.
posted by gottabefunky at 5:56 PM on April 30 [4 favorites]




No judgement either way on this guy, but I’m really tired of people being shitty
posted by glaucon at 6:09 PM on April 30 [46 favorites]


I'm not opposed to the concept of this at all but it really seems unfair that for all that money, pain, and suffering you only get 3 inches or so.
posted by threementholsandafuneral at 6:12 PM on April 30 [4 favorites]


Needs a "Gattaca" Tag. The Future is Now.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:16 PM on April 30 [12 favorites]


‘Height-ism’, if there is such a term, is real. Multiple studies have shown the increased height is associated with increased income (for example). As someone pretty median (5’10”- 5’11” depending), I always wished for another 4” so I could be a more competitive guard in HS and as a forward in college soccer. Surgery, though? I think not.
posted by sudogeek at 6:17 PM on April 30 [7 favorites]


I guess you can have it done on both your femurs and tibias. This guy got 6.5”.

Wow, that doesn't look good. The rest of the body is not in proportion at all. This is similar to when women get exaggerated breast implants.

I'm short and in my adult life have never been called short or if I have it has been definitely been very rare. Sure, it happened a lot in grade school and I was self conscious in high school but the guy in the article definitely has some body image issues and dare I say seeking out "height shaming" (?) commentary. Even though it is minimally invasive I can't imagine the pain for getting just 3" in height and without the rest of the body bulking up.

It is too bad that we aren't putting more into figuring out how to solve body image issues if not through therapy but whatever chemical imbalance might cause it. I'll admit it was a bit abstract for me when hearing, mostly women, talk about having warped views of body image. I didn't understand how someone Gigi Hadid feeling ashamed of their body to me just never made sense but after hearing this man's issues with height issues and living in a world as a somewhat short person it makes sense that it has nothing to do with actually being short.

I wonder if there's any long term happiness studies of these people.

but also in cruel exchanges that get posted in places like r/tinder

I did well on tinder and never had an issue with anyone making fun of me, or having issues getting dates. Did people swipe right because I was too short and I didn't know it? I'm sure of it but it never felt like I couldn't get a date. I feel a lot of this and on TikTok is really exaggerated. Similarly if you go into any developer job subreddits they're all full of arguing if you should be getting $400k as an L4, 3 years out of college at Facebook or $500k 3 years out of college at an L3 at Google. Like, that's such a minority of people and minority of tech/engineering jobs it almost should be banned. I'm sort of glad I'm old enough and missed some of the worst of social media, my view was warped enough with NY Times Style Section or the MTV Spring Breaks.
posted by geoff. at 6:23 PM on April 30 [21 favorites]


I am 5'4", and I would kill to be 5'7". Nobody has ever taken me seriously in my life because I am short, chubby and weird-looking. I was teased mercilessly as a child and dismissively as an adult. I am closing in on 60 now, and don't feel like this surgery would be worth it, but if I were 25 again, I would do it.
posted by briank at 6:23 PM on April 30 [48 favorites]


I guess I'm happy that what feels to me baaaasically like the conceptual male equivalent of breast augmentation is now becoming more broadly available to people who need it to feel like they're showing up in the world the way they want to show up. I predict that for a lot of them it will actually be the answer they needed and for a lot of them it won't. That's life!

Speaking as someone who has considered social transition a few times over the years, the prospect of being a 5'2" man is unappealing for many reasons. I totally get it. Good for them for trying something to feel more at home in the body they were dealt instead of just sitting on r/incels moaning about it.
posted by potrzebie at 6:29 PM on April 30 [23 favorites]


It's crazy to me how often progressive people respond to this topic with either complete denial or minimization.
posted by cinchona at 6:46 PM on April 30 [34 favorites]


I feel a lot of this and on TikTok is really exaggerated. Similarly if you go into any developer job subreddits they're all full of arguing if you should be getting $400k as an L4, 3 years out of college at Facebook or $500k 3 years out of college at an L3 at Google. Like, that's such a minority of people and minority of tech/engineering jobs it almost should be banned. I'm sort of glad I'm old enough and missed some of the worst of social media, my view was warped enough with NY Times Style Section or the MTV Spring Breaks.

Yeah, this article mostly made me sad. Like, I get that being 5'2" would be really hard for a man, but this man was 5'7" - I've had a few male friends around that height, and they've been fine (socially, romantically, professionally)- certainly not looking to break both of their legs and fork over $75k for an extra three inches of height. One of the more toxic parts about social media algorithms is they pick up on what bothers you (because one tends to linger over such material), and then show you that over and over. It sounds like that's what happened here- from the article:

"He singled out TikTok particularly, where jokes about men’s height are rampant. “I don’t know how many times I have to hit the dislike button for your algorithm to learn I don’t want to see jokes about height,” he said. He flags the TikToks as harassment and bullying, only to receive a note back that says the app reviewed the content and didn’t find anything wrong with it."

I obviously don't know TikTok's algorithm, but I wouldn't be surprised it saw him flagging or whatever as "engagement." I have no doubt he's experienced shitty jokes about his height in real life, but it seems like the Internet/social media convinced him most adults are shittier than they actually are (and I say this as someone who is pretty cynical about humankind - and also as a tall woman).
posted by coffeecat at 6:59 PM on April 30 [29 favorites]


What I'm hearing is that maybe there are a ton of short but awesome men who are single?

Do people really think that the women who shop in the petite section want to date outsized giants? Or that those women aren't good mates?
posted by amtho at 7:33 PM on April 30 [20 favorites]


It does seem like perhaps TikTok's algorithm continues to show people content of the type they say they aren't interested in (or perhaps even more of it).

I would be interested to see some data on whether women actually do weight height as much as the stereotype would have it. That's not been my experience of the world, but then I'm an entirely average height man, so it's not something I think about much.

The chart half way down the page here from OK Cupid suggests the difference between 5'7" and 5'10" is there but perhaps not as huge (about 12% more messages once you adjust for people exaggerating their height by 2" overall).
posted by ssg at 7:46 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


"Tall privilege" is absolutely a thing, and it makes just as little sense as any other privilege conferred by traits you have no control over. As with others, it's hard to really quantify where and how it's worked to my advantage, but I'm 100% sure that it's ironed out some wrinkles that otherwise would have slowed me down.

I actually feel like Covid has been an equalizer on this one, rather than exacerbating it like the article suggests. On the internet, no one can tell you're a dog tall. That only breaks down when you meet someone in person after six months of video calls, and the conversation gets completely derailed for 2-3 minutes while they try to reassemble their mental picture of you.

Here's the thing, though. Many types of privilege revolve around things that are value-neutral, considered outside of social context. Being white? Doesn't actually confer any advantages or disadvantages, unless you live north of the Arctic Circle. Being male? Not actually all that helpful, aside from the standing-up-to-pee thing. Being tall, though? Is actually a disadvantage, day-to-day. It was no doubt advantageous ten thousand years ago, when it gave you a leg up on whatever mortal threat you were trying to fight off.

Today, though, it means that there are a million things in the world that just weren't built for you to use. Buying pants or shoes or cars is an ordeal. Staircases and doorframes are actually hazardous to your health. You develop back problems in your 20s. You can work around most of these, but it's anywhere from a nuisance to a total showstopper, unless you're a professional athlete whose custom-made Nikes are part of an endorsement deal. For the rest of us, it means not being able to buy shoes at the outlet stores, or spending an extra month shopping every time we need to buy a car.

I don't mean to detract from the pain that men like Scott in this article are experiencing--I'm sure it's every bit as awful as it's described, especially given how much attitudes have changed in the past twenty years in regards to the acceptability of (e.g.) casual racism vs mocking short men. It's just always seemed especially absurd to me that the world fetishizes tall people so much, given how much of a pain in the ass it is to walk around all day bumping your head on things.
posted by Mayor West at 7:55 PM on April 30 [18 favorites]


It's crazy to me how often progressive people respond to this topic with either complete denial or minimization.

I don't think being progressive means you have to approve of everything or sympathize with everyone's issues. It mostly means you have to just get out of the way of said people.

I think it's really sad that a 5'7" man has issues enough to get such a serious procedure done. As a middle aged man who's always been fat, nearsighted, and reaches 5'4" with the means of an assist, (not to mention the color of my skin), I can't say I've actually suffered much for the lack of stature. And I have trouble believing these modern social media plagued days are really more cruel than the age when I grew up. If you think so, gather 'round youngsters, let me tell you some stories of what shit really used to be like in the old days...

But clearly, I never suffered the issues this guy does, for whatever reasons. I feel like, on paper at least, my description must make me sound like a little troll. Perhaps modern dating apps would would put me at a serious disadvantage? However, I've never seriously thought it would be great to be taller. Hell, I even managed to marry a woman who's just shy of 6' tall over 30 years ago, and we're still together. So, yeah, whatever goes on with someone so desperate to be taller just seems sad. Hope this modification can make him feel better.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:57 PM on April 30 [30 favorites]


I read this article yesterday. As a woman attracted to men, I’ve never even considered height or lack thereof a disqualifying characteristic. Same with weight. I’m 5’4” isssshhhh and 130 and I’ve dated guys my height to 6’4” and from 145 to 300+ lbs. I’ve uh, hung out with guys all over that range too. Is the man good to his friends and family? Do we have things in common? Are we attracted to each other? Cool, let's spend some time together.
I definitely have *preferences* but height isn’t one of them; it would be very difficult for me to date a Pats fan, for instance. This concept of “my man has to be x’y” tall” just seems so foreign to me.
That being said, if these folks have the funds and have researched the process and are patronizing reputable healthcare providers, well, I’m really glad that they may now have an avenue to alleviate some of their discomfort. But I’d be much happier if external forces weren’t so negative and judgmental.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 8:05 PM on April 30 [6 favorites]


What I take from this article is that the dude absolutely had this procedure for gender-affirming reasons. If someone can read this article and think “I may not get his exact reasoning but if he really wanted the surgery sure, why not,” there is no reason that they shouldn’t also support trans people getting whatever gender-affirming procedures they want.
posted by ActionPopulated at 8:15 PM on April 30 [60 favorites]


I am a person who dates men among other genders. I have no doubt that height discrimination exists and that progressive/modern internet people engage in it because I see people say dumb shit about height on twitter all the time. It's pretty grim because you would hope that normal vaguely leftish people would have internalized that we do not comment on others' bodies, especially not negatively, plus it's also the standard misogyny-that-hurts-men: "Men are big and tall and women are adorably petite, men and women are very different, men and women are always naturally easy to tell apart even when, eg, fully clothed in voluminous garments" etc. If men ought to be big then women ought to be small.

I think that getting a really pretty invasive surgery is a sad and probably unwise response, but I find it difficult to really criticize since it's society being hateful and as a queer and gender non-conforming person I know how that can grind you down.

I don't think I'd stay friends with a woman who went off about how she only wanted to date tall men or made fun of short men any more than I'd stay friends with a man who only ever tried to date much younger women. Maybe the women I know just don't say this stuff around me because they know I'd think it was bullshit, but I would genuinely find it impossible to take a woman seriously as a person if I heard her talk this way.
posted by Frowner at 8:18 PM on April 30 [36 favorites]


My feelings on this are complicated having come into growth late but reached "average." I have noticed, though, that there are a higher percentage of men with damaging chips on their shoulders who are shorter than me, than those who are taller.

A friend's accountant did this; flew to Russia, spent the 3 months (or whatever) of lengthening, was about to rehab back Stateside when a really bad infection got him for something like 9 months to a year, stuck in Russia, half a decade back.
posted by porpoise at 8:20 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


I completely support this guy in taking action to change something that was having a serious effect on his mental health. I've definitely seen evidence of tall privilege in my work life. And although my dating days are long behind me, I've also heard women ask each other "is he actually hot, or is he just tall?" as they question their crushes on professional sports players.

But I'm sad that so much of society still has such strict rules about how men have to be in order to be taken seriously. It seems like another aspect of the conservative/capitalist/religious insistence on policing gender. All those gender reveal parties and body shaming of adult women for having visible evidence that they're adults. Just this relentless surveillance of what's acceptable and construction of a hierarchy of value. I wish he'd been able to find a path towards a more gender accepting community. Or at least people who were less shallow and cruel!
posted by harriet vane at 8:40 PM on April 30 [5 favorites]


but this man was 5'7" - I've had a few male friends around that height, and they've been fine

That was what made me think the problem was in the brain, not the body. I mean, maybe changing the body will help change the brain, I don't know, but it's never seemed to bother my guy friends who are in the range, it's all about the confidence. I mean, one of the charming things about Volodymyr Zelenskyy is that he seems totally unphased about his height, he runs around in sneakers not lifts and has no problem standing next to giant northern European politicians. Or even being hugged by them, which is slightly hilarious when they are ex-basketball players.

There's obviously a point where it can be a serious detriment just in terms of physically functioning in the world or not being viewed as an adult, but 5'7" has never seemed *that* short to me.
posted by tavella at 8:42 PM on April 30 [14 favorites]


I am very short - about the only thing designed for my comfort is airplane seats. There is virtually no overlap between my long personal list of height-related grievances and the problems these men report experiencing. I'm also AFAB, so in adulthood the height-related mockery and bullying mostly disappeared and the social pressure to conform to society's ideal shifted to other aspects of my appearance.

I don't mean to say that these guys don't have real problems, or should be prevented from getting surgery. It is just interesting (and moderately horrifying) that the social pressure is what is driving interest in this surgery, not the practical inconveniences of being short.
posted by mersen at 8:47 PM on April 30 [5 favorites]


but this man was 5'7" - I've had a few male friends around that height, and they've been fine

For anything that's a big deal or a big problem for someone, you'll find other people for whom it's not a big deal. That is not a license to dismiss their problems.

I'm an average height guy so I've never had this problem but I have absolutely seen it. I have a friend who is probably 5'7" or 5'8" and his wife is taller than him and people NEVER FAIL to comment on this like it's some kind of god damn miracle. God forbid she wears heels.

If you're a short guy and you're OK with it, good for you. If you have a short male friend and they're ok with it, good for them. Like do we not already know in this day and age that people with the same characteristics can have different experiences?
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:48 PM on April 30 [36 favorites]


there is no reason that they shouldn’t also support trans people getting whatever gender-affirming procedures they want.

That's a really complex area. I did not at all mean to bring up trans issues and never questioned gender-affirming procedures but they can be similarly as invasive and dangerous as this. Except height issues for the most part, or at least in this case, seem almost singularly focused on society's perception of height. That it impacts career, relationships and social status -- and I wouldn't be surprised if this was proven to be the case! But I do not hear people saying they always felt taller but were stuck in a short body like I hear trans people say. I'm sure societal perception and mores come into play and I'm far from well versed in this but I will say it feels like gender affirming issues are a completely different category even if on the surface it seems very similar.

Again that's not trivializing what this person is going through, no one has a rod inserted into their thigh and painfully extends it by 1mm a day for something trivial this isn't getting a tanning bed. But this seems more like a body dysmorphic disorder. The fact the doctor sees people above 6 foot (!!!) wanting the surgery somewhat compliments the fact that there will always be someone taller or better looking or have better abs, etc.
posted by geoff. at 8:52 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


As a notch-over-5'7" guy-person who is roughly his age I find his experiences entirely alien. I don't think anyone has, to my face, called me short or even mildly joshed me about my height- and it's not because I intimidate them into silence. I'm definitely aware I don't have tall-guy privilege but my height simply doesn't seem like something people particularly notice about me.

What really makes me wonder about how much this is in his head is his quote that “There were things throughout my day, every day, that would bother me. I felt attacked or unfairly criticized due to my height.”- like, as much as I believe that anti-short sentiment exists offline and on-, this feels like someone who was stuck in his own personal hell-world, not the world as-it-is. I just struggle to imagine a 5'7" guy is getting "attacked or unfairly criticized" on height grounds day-to-day.

It really feels like this guy's issues stemmed from seeing this stuff way too much online. Like, way way too much. I'm very online and it only creeps in at the edges. Where the heck was he hanging out that this would be a constant, daily deluge of anti-short memes? Has Reddit gotten much, much worse since I quit it?
posted by BungaDunga at 8:54 PM on April 30 [46 favorites]


My main takeaway from this was: you can make that much money in a year doing OnlyFans?

One can, but most don’t. I’ve seen attempts to graph the income distribution and they come out as a sharp power law thing like most graphs of popularity on the Internet. Although it’s probably skewed by the number of people who make an account but never do much with it.
posted by atoxyl at 9:04 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


I mean, bullies will use whatever they can as a weapon. I was occasionally called fat as a kid, and again when I was working a lot of depressing, dead-end jobs as an adult, mostly by people who likewise had nothing in particular going for them and I guess wanted to make a virtue out of being skinny. It really hasn't happened since I got a white collar job. Maybe I earn less than people who match society's visual picture of being fit? Maybe it's cost me some potential dates? I dunno.

But I think about that poor guy in the link that bxvr posted at the top of this post, and how he was rich and obviously extremely intelligent but had nonetheless fallen down the MRA/PUA/incel rabbit hole. There's also this haunting bit: "He told me that, should an asteroid fall on him tomorrow, it would be his fault because it would be something he should be able to prevent. He took responsibility for everything that happened to him—a burden I cannot imagine, and an illusion of control that must have been crippling." There really are people who believe that a few millimeters of bone (or, in the case of this procedure, a few inches in the leg bones) is all the difference. Whatever else I do or don't have going for me, I don't have to bear that weight.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:38 PM on April 30 [6 favorites]


I find it easy to imagine that just a few unfortunate coincidences/formative experiences can set you on a path where a feature some people don't notice or cope with easily becomes a debilitating and dominating feature of your life, through a kind of negative feedback loop. You have lost confidence because of some physical feature, and you miss opportunities because you lack confidence, and at some level your physical feature is indeed to blame, maybe directly, maybe indirectly. People say something mean about that feature and it hurts harder and longer on top of all the other insults you have suffered. Once you've got to that point, I have no idea how surgery would compare to therapy and coaching in terms of cost and effectiveness. Maybe it's better?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:44 PM on April 30 [17 favorites]


As a 5’10” woman I feel his pain. As a teenager I wouldn’t stand up straight for years except in the back row of the chorus. Heard all the “really a man in drag”/Amazon jokes. Looked like the teacher in all the school pictures. It doesn’t bother me anymore, but I can imagine a timeline in which it still did. It would be so great if we as a species could stop being shitty to each other about our appearance.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:01 PM on April 30 [24 favorites]


I’ve dated men from 6’9” to 4’9”. It’s the motion in the ocean, not the size of the mast.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:22 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


But I do not hear people saying they always felt taller but were stuck in a short body like I hear trans people say.

Allow me to be your counterexample. I was always the smallest girl in class - literally off-the-charts short - and for as long back as I can remember I wanted to be tall. I would tell people I was going to be six feet or more when I grew up. When friends would hit growth spurts I would sulk and rage at them. People who get to know me online and meet me in person are always stunned to the point that I now warn them I'm short so I don't have to contend with their surprise. I have a tall personality in a 5'2" body and it's absolutely bothered me all my life. In my case, I come from a tall family and had reason to expect I would grow eventually - I have no hard evidence of it, but I suspect I was iron-deficiency anemic for a few years of my childhood and it stunted my growth. The gradual realization that my growth spurt was never coming was harsh. It's hard to disentangle, but I suspect some of my gender issues come from my height issues, rather than the other way around.

I mean, there's the term "Napoleon complex" for a reason! Lots of people have a chip on their shoulder about being shorter than they think they ought to have been. And sure, a lot of that is about how people treat you, but at least for some people, some of it is about a deep, internal feeling that this just wasn't the body you were supposed to get. I think if we're going to accept that you can feel that way about gender, which is so complex, there's no reason not to also accept that some people have a sense of the physical size they're going to be that's clear and known to them from a young age, and some of them don't end up that size for one reason or another.

People don't say "I always felt taller but I got stuck in a short body" because there's no reason for them to. Because, like, it wasn't a curable thing so why talk about it in those terms? What does that accomplish? But if there was a chance that this procedure was something that insurances were considering covering for people with documented "height dysmorphia disorder", well, I think there are a WHOLE lot of people who could dig up childhood journal entries about how much taller they wanted to be, drawings of "me grown up" dunking a basketball without having to jump, find friends and family who could remember anecdotes about prolonged and profound dissatisfaction with their height, etc.
posted by potrzebie at 10:48 PM on April 30 [23 favorites]


I'm a 5'2" trans guy. I'm also a professor. A few years back, after giving a lecture on privilege and marginalization, I had a cis white man student come up to me and shake my hand. He told me that he was so glad I had covered this topic, because he was a business major and he was in a state of constant unhappiness because he was only 5'11", and most CEOs are 6 feet tall or more, and he was so upset that he would never get to that magic height so that he could be successful and get respect in life. It was so unfair!

Do I think that people should be able to access limb-lengthening surgeries if they are deeply distressed by their height? Sure. Like I said, I'm trans, and accessing hormone therapy has made me feel a lot better about my body.

But this dude was 9 inches taller than me--and there he was shaking my hand. I really wish people would have some effing perspective on what constitutes oppression and their relative privileges.
posted by DrMew at 11:27 PM on April 30 [55 favorites]


It really is unbelievable to me how many woman give a fuck about men’s height and vice versa. My dad was 5’8” and my mom’s 5’11” and both of them got so much weirdness about their height over the course of their lives and it’s just SO STUPID. Who cares!! It’s completely fucking ludicrous to put any kind of judgey meaning on this whatsoever!!
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:34 PM on April 30 [7 favorites]


It's crazy to me how often progressive people respond to this topic with either complete denial or minimization.

Interestingly, a lot of people on this site and on the web in general seem to wear prescription eyeglasses, which were a cosmetic rarity for 95% of humanity up until the late 1800s, effectively on the scale of the surgery detailed in TFA, perhaps rarer.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:58 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Uhh… I don’t recall having my flesh rent and my bones cracked the last time I went to Lenscrafters…
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:03 AM on May 1 [20 favorites]


Dang, showbiz_liz, sounds like you're going to a way nicer LensCrafters than I am
posted by potrzebie at 12:08 AM on May 1 [57 favorites]


There’s obviously some intersection with personality and psychology here, but that’s also true for, say, disordered eating and I think nobody would contest that’s informed by how we as a society treat fat people (especially fat women, in that case).

In this case I don’t actually mean to call getting this surgery disordered; unless they’re really endangering themselves, I tend to think it’s a little paternalistic and intrusive to tell people they shouldn’t try to change their appearance. He is the one actually living in his body. I brought up the comparison because I think it would be a mistake to see this as about one person’s hang ups; personally I see this more as an example of how masculinity is so circumscribed and rigidly enforced that it ends up excluding even a lot of men.

If you’re a queer man I can imagine how this sense of social exclusion might be further amplified for you. This is maybe especially true for a bi guy who dates straight people, because the more contact you have with mainstream heterosexual culture, the more your masculinity is going to be openly scrutinized by potential partners and the people in their lives (bisexual men in het relationships already get LOTS of negative attention).

Anyway my point is, whether this single individual is also partly responding to some body dysmorphia, that kind of stuff doesn’t come out of a vacuum — it’s a part of the same systems of oppression that ruin everything else. I’m not saying this person is as equally oppressed as gay men (let alone trans men) but that also doesn’t mean that, to abuse a metaphor, it’s not worth tearing that part of the wall out as long as we’re redecorating.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:15 AM on May 1 [12 favorites]


For me, this thread seems to have an awful lot of handwringing. I think most people have a particular hangup about their physical person. There is one particular thing about my body that over the years I have considered getting surgery for. I hated this imperfection when I was a kid, in my 20s, in my 30s, and now in my 40s. Still hate it. Because I’m old enough now to know I will never be ok with it (no, I’m not telling what it is). So I might as well do the procedure and see what happens. I know it’s more of a self-esteem issue than physical issue, and when I mention it to people they always laugh it off and say “Oh, your [“imperfection” I detest] is so charming” or the like. And yet I have almost never met another human with the same thing, and would bet all my worldly possessions that anyone “charmed” by it wouldn’t in a million years switch places with me, if some wizard could make that happen.

What’s the regret rate of people who get plastic surgery? Not counting the botched surgeries— I mean the ones that were perfect successes: how many people feel they shouldn’t have done it, even though they received exactly what they wanted. Is it so hard to imagine that this man ends up 5’10”, something he probably long dreamed about, and…he’s happy about it? That he doesn’t miss being 5’7”? For women who get breast implants, doesn’t it stand to reason a large percentage—even a majority—are happy with the results? For me, I think if I had the procedure I’d be happy with it and would really want to show off the new me. I don't have any illusions about it bringing me heaps of attention or adoration; more the lack of insecurity. That would just simply disappear.

I totally get the insecurity with height for men. I’m 5’11” so on the tall-ish side, but it just so happens that the majority of my male friends and colleagues are 6’ or taller. So with them I do feel the height difference, and find myself wishing I could add three inches or so. It’s not a nagging thing like the unnamed condition above, but I do at least notice it and find I have those thoughts. If I were shorter and it were my One Thing, I can see how I’d jump at the chance for this surgery.
posted by zardoz at 12:29 AM on May 1 [10 favorites]


I detest how absolutely common and acceptable it is to give men shit for, or judge them by, their height or dick size. And it is extremely common. I'm dating a man around my height, and one a hair chunk taller (who considers himself short in his family). There is a definite difference in how those men are treated by others. There is a definite use of height as judgement of worth or romantic capacity. In spite of the fact women are notoriously terrible at actually guessing height or penis size (and men are too).

I was expected to be tall and stopped growing when I was about 10 at 5'4" - I still have this internal image of height that means I don't consider how much taller my 5'8" and 5'11" friends/partners are until I get close enough to realise I'm face first into chests. But my tall lady friends often talk about the weird way shorter men approach them, and also how shorter women will talk about men's height.

Do I think there's dysmorphia, MRA type gender issues, and OCD possibly and certainly some level of chasing the dragon when it comes to height related bullshit, yeah. But I've come across it often enough as a perfectly boring height lady that I don't imagine it's nearly as rare or ineffectual as some of us seem to be implying. I've met MANY otherwise body positive, inclusive, radical women who will be awful vaout height. I don't know how much actually transitions to treating shorter men badly in an active way vs (just) ignoring them as potential partners, but I imagine some does. Not to mention those who will rail against men who have body type preferences then claim some minimum height that's well above average in their own profiles.

The hypocrisy of men and height is definitely alive and well in many women.

(Also I wear glasses so I'm not legally and functionally blind and I'm kind of bewildered as to the point of bringing that up given one is easily removed and one is potentially deadly surgery, and definitely less common than glasses even in that era)
posted by geek anachronism at 2:32 AM on May 1 [20 favorites]


If you ever look at the front page of reddit, you're unlikely to get through the whole thing without seeing a post "bodyshaming", which turns out to be a clip of a girl being mean about short guys. Or a gleeful post where a man DESTROYS a woman who says she will only date guys over six foot by telling her he will only date girls under size six and what a horrible double standard this is. The whole issue has become an important, maybe the most important front in this sort of incel horror and it's really hard to read all this without seeing it through this lens. How much of these guys' pain is actually caused by being knocked back, and how much is caused by the amplification and magnification these communities do?
posted by ominous_paws at 2:42 AM on May 1 [31 favorites]


This is definitely an over simplification, but height used to be a signifier of class and not being malnourished. The trope of the dumb/short and poor southerner in the US was almost exclusively due to hookworms and access to shoes. In the grand scheme of things height is neutral as it takes more energy to be tall, but in the modern environment with cheap and easy access to calories and nutrition for most people in wealthy countries it holds the social advantages from a previous era. Anyway people constantly assume dumb things from appearance. Like my wife is short and she gets random people assuming she is a teenager in professional and non-professional settings despite having a ton of gray hair. People are not socialized to meet people as they are and slowly get to know them, but make a bunch of snap judgements based off of societal values. Being tall is valuable and i think body dysmorphia has taken a leap in prevalence with internet with more access to criticism about your image. Heck i used to think I was ugly for long time because I wasnt white and took at least a better part of a decade to realize how much random thoughts about myself were comditioned into me.
posted by roguewraith at 3:17 AM on May 1 [6 favorites]


I've spent my life being short. And it was obvious that though it was bad for me, it would be worse for boys and men.

I'm inclined to think that how much people are bothered by low-status body features is a combination of vulnerability to being bothered, and what sort of people they're around. It could be bad luck with a few bullies, or the general social atmosphere being worse in some places than others.

I got shit for being short, and that bothered me for decades. I also got shit for having feet that turn out, but that affected me much less because it seemed insane (sorry, a better word isn't coming to me) to care about whether people's feet turn out. Sometimes neurotypicals are a mystery.

Anyway, the surprising thing in the article for me wasn't the height surgery, it was that there's a market for financial degradation.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 3:50 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]


Glasses... I'm not sure when they shifted from being grounds for insults (four-eyes) to a neutral thing. Before my time-- maybe the 40s or 50s.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 3:53 AM on May 1


If you ever look at the front page of reddit, you're unlikely to get through the whole thing without seeing

Isn’t the front page algorithmically selected content tuned to the individual reader? (And apparently designed to magnify the reader’s individual insecurities as much as possible. Which must feel even worse if you’re under the impression that it’s the same reality everyone else is seeing.)
posted by ook at 3:57 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


"home" is tweaked but I think "popular" is just what it is - that's where i see the constant stream of "person from X disadvantaged group treated sympathetically by progressives does shitty thing! Upvote upvote upvote!" posts.
posted by ominous_paws at 5:06 AM on May 1 [4 favorites]


Isn’t the front page algorithmically selected content tuned to the individual reader?

It depends on what you mean by the front page. r/all, which is what a lot of people mean by the front page, is the same for everyone. These kinds of height-shaming posts are indeed rampant and they're used to minimize male privilege and body shaming by men in a "see, both sides do it" kind of way.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 5:13 AM on May 1 [7 favorites]


I can see where people’s individual contexts could make a vast difference in how they perceive themselves.

For instance, I’ve done low skill labor where I’m the tallest person in the room, and I’m a woman. The managers were shorter than me.

But I’ve worked with startup bros (all but one a man) and they were all domineering and all over 6’. In one context, height doesn’t matter much. But in another, it can be easy to see that only the tall, domineering types get the millions of dollars in investments.
posted by Monday at 5:14 AM on May 1 [7 favorites]


I'm a short guy (5'6"), and height discrimination is absolutely real (in dating, in how other men treat you), but I've nevertheless managed to get married, reproduce and generally live a pretty decent life so far.

Having experienced it, this strikes me as a morbid obsession out of proportion to the actual problem.
posted by ryanshepard at 5:29 AM on May 1 [5 favorites]


I'm honestly surprised that there are any shorter men who haven't been mocked for being short in significant ways. I'm dead average, in my country, 5'10" and when I was dating a 5'11" woman I was mocked endlessly by strangers for being short. It didn't bother me much probably because WTF? However it really bothered my companion who hated being a tall woman because of all the negative comments (despite having super model like height).

Having experienced it, this strikes me as a morbid obsession out of proportion to the actual problem.

Well that is practically all body dimorphism issues.

Glasses... I'm not sure when they shifted from being grounds for insults (four-eyes) to a neutral thing. Before my time-- maybe the 40s or 50s.

They haven't. Plenty of people wear contacts or get surgery to avoid wearing them for esthetic reasons. It's either the first, last or only step of every Hollywood ugly duckling transformed into knock out storyline.

I have a friend who is probably 5'7" or 5'8" and his wife is taller than him and people NEVER FAIL to comment on this like it's some kind of god damn miracle. God forbid she wears heels.

This is much more my lived experience.

Wow, that doesn't look good. The rest of the body is not in proportion at all.

Lots of people aren't in proportion sans surgery. A good friend of my father was 6'10" and had a 30" inseam.
posted by Mitheral at 5:47 AM on May 1 [11 favorites]


Glasses... I'm not sure when they shifted from being grounds for insults (four-eyes) to a neutral thing. Before my time-- maybe the 40s or 50s.

Definitely grounds for insults when I was a kid in the 90s! As soon as my optometrist said I could get contact lenses, I did.

Of course, once I did get contacts, the bullies found something else to mock me for.

Point being, kids will always find something to be mean about, and height is an easy target. I'd be curious to see a follow up a few years later. Was this the miracle "Scott" thought it would be?

I'm a bit surprised that no prior patients agreed to talk to this reporter. Surgeons like this typically have a list of patient ambassadors (i.e. those with good experiences) to talk with those considering the procedure. Maybe not here, because of the stigma involved. Maybe the reporter didn't know to ask. Or maybe none of the patient ambassadors were willing to talk even under a pseudonym.
posted by basalganglia at 5:48 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


I’m 5’7” and it’s always been an issue in one way or another. I’m pretty much guaranteed to be the shortest guy in any group of men. When my kids played sports, hanging with the other dads at games and whatnot always left me feeling insignificant. The serious sports dads, especially, seem to tend toward the larger/taller size, so my conversations consisted of me always looking up at them. Shaking hands with another guy (who wasn’t a pro athlete) whose hands dwarf yours can be a pretty humiliating/diminishing experience. This all gets even worse as you get older and ageism starts to get mixed in. You start becoming the “little old man” who people offhandedly dismiss.

There are clothing issues, too. Shirts, for instance, are always too long, and so make me look even smaller when worn untucked. Shopping for a suit always meant rummaging through the few “S” sizes on the racks.

And, yes, women can be extremely judgmental about men’s height (and the attendant “size” implications) Even women shorter than me gravitated toward the 6-footers.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:49 AM on May 1 [12 favorites]


Good for him. It sounds like the surgery went well and had the desired mental result, which is a much better metric than anything else. Plus he didn't go into debt to have it done, and probably took a lot of money from people who would have mocked his height in real life, or at least he could imagine it being so, which was probably very healing also. Love that for him. A+
posted by ananci at 6:26 AM on May 1 [10 favorites]


Glasses... I'm not sure when they shifted from being grounds for insults (four-eyes) to a neutral thing. Before my time-- maybe the 40s or 50s.

I can attest that "four-eyes" remained a go-to insult through the 1980s, at least. The classics never go away.

I'm dead average, in my country, 5'10" and when I was dating a 5'11" woman I was mocked endlessly by strangers for being short.

It's not just that people are cruel about it, it's that there is clearly so much social pressure that in this country you rarely see couples where the man is much shorter. That's a huge swath of potential romantic pairings that just never happen, which is sad -- people whose personalities would match perfectly, but for many people it is just inconceivable.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:46 AM on May 1 [6 favorites]


My impression is that tall women are more socially acceptable than they used to be. Thoaght?

Anyway, when I was a kid, there was the Sonny and Cher show, and part of the humor was them being nasty to each other, but each show ended with them singing "I've Got You, Babe', showing just their heads, with Sonny's higher than Cher's. Even as a kid, I knew there was something wrong there. Also, it was a boring song.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:54 AM on May 1


Heightism is real, but so is a persecution complex. I'm 5'8", and I can honestly say I've never in my life experienced any issues because of my height. This guy was only one inch shorter than me. I've done okay at work; I've dated women my height, shorter than me, and considerably taller than me. It's fine. It's all okay. I promise that this man will have some other problem, immediately, if he doesn't already.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:02 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]


I'm way farther off the height bell curve for women than this guy is for men and it is maybe not the hell this guy paints but it is also a grinding mildly shitty thing I will never be rid of for the rest of my life. The entire built environment of the world is not for me, in a way that doesn't apply to someone 5'7", and no amount of custom clothing can change that - the car airbags will still hit me square in the face, not the chest. Adults mostly behave around me now (I have still been asked exactly how tall I am in a professional setting by an otherwise decent person in the last six months?!) but honestly the pandemic was the best thing that ever happened for my career because I'm mostly just a head on a screen, not an adult in a child size body. "No amount of anti-anxiety medication or verbal talk therapy could get the world to stop treating me like this" is spot on. At my height I just don't get to be sexy or authoritative, just cute on a good day, and I made my peace with that. My personal risk tolerance doesn't allow this procedure, but if it were as safe as getting braces on your teeth I probably would just to get closer to normal even though I'd still be considered "too short" at 5'2" by Western beauty standards, but then maybe the airbags wouldn't kill me.
posted by slow graffiti at 7:19 AM on May 1 [19 favorites]


Many of us will roll our eyes and say, Welcome to the club of societal mistreatment, take a seat behind ... LGBTs

Scott is bisexual, although it sounds like he dates and/or is attracted to straight people, which, as en forme de poire points out, increases his exposure to mainstream hetero culture and makes it more likely that he will run into people who will openly disparage his masculinity and his appearance because he is short. (The alternative, for lack of a better word, hetero subculture isn't necessarily more accepting of short men or of others who differ from conventional appearance standards. But the people active in this subculture find different ways to express it.)

If shortness is your biggest challenge and you are tall enough to use vehicles and furniture, maybe you could spend $75K on people who need it more than you?

I will gently point out that Scott didn't have this money lying around. He earned it by setting up an OnlyFans site, which is real work.

If Scott can address something about himself that has bothered him for a long time in a way that is realistic about the medical risks involved and that doesn't put him in debt (as ananci noted), well -- we can debate all day about whether he should be more self-actualized about his height, but we're not the ones living in his body.
posted by virago at 7:22 AM on May 1 [13 favorites]


There must be a huge cultural component to this? 5'7'' is not short at all in my opinion. Obviously, that doesn't make it less real, just relative, and people were bullied for their (lack of) height in middle school when I was a kid. But the thing was, the girls (including the tall girls) all liked the short guys better, because the tall guys were bullies. Two of the short guys grew up to be tall, but you can still feel that little person inside: a not-bully, a curious person.

I think we all have something we dislike about our physical appearance. Someone above compared this guy to women who get their breasts enhanced. I have wanted smaller breasts for ages, and I'm finally going to get them, though the reason is cancer risk, not cosmetic. (It is delayed because of COVID, and I get tested all the time). A lot of people have opinions. But this is my own thing, I'm doing it entirely for me. Maybe I'm just imagining things this late in life, but I want to run and jump and dance without that thump-thumpety-thump in my life. A better choice of clothes is an extra bonus. I don't think I will earn more or go back to dating.

And that is where I might worry about the way this guy is presented in the article. Being taller won't get him the better job or the perfect trophy companion. I hope it's just the journalists' angle on his story that makes him seem like he thinks this will improve his life in a more existential way, because I don't think it will. But all the luck to him!
posted by mumimor at 7:22 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]


I assume airbag trajectory is a risk because of torso length, not leg length. If that's right, being taller will get you better treatment and ability to reach things, but it won't help with airbags.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 7:43 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]


Virago, I was under the impression that being a short guy might be a disadvantage in gay circles as well. Is this inaccurate?
posted by Selena777 at 7:43 AM on May 1


Full disclosure: I'm 5'8" and left-handed.

His response to those who (metaphorically) look down on short people was to become one of those who (literally) look down upon short people. I know the irony is there, but I can't untangle it from Botox, tummy tucks, and anti-aging commercials.

No, I'm not minimizing our hero's sensitivity to the many skeins of systemic cultural snobbery. I stipulate that we snowflakes face a massive and unending tide of "normalization." I reject the notion that resistance is futile.
posted by mule98J at 7:54 AM on May 1 [4 favorites]


virago, I was under the impression that being a short guy might be a disadvantage in gay circles as well

Selena777, I was under the same impression, but I don't know for sure. As with my other friends, our looks and how we feel about them have been a topic between me and my gay male friends, but we've never talked about height. That would be an interesting conversation.

Anyway, I'm a bisexual woman in her 50s who is not photogenic or conventionally good looking, although I have an interesting face. My socializing and dating, as an adult, have taken place in the alternative hetero subculture, so that is the population about which I feel most comfortable speaking.
posted by virago at 8:02 AM on May 1


It really feels like this guy's issues stemmed from seeing this stuff way too much online. Like, way way too much. I'm very online and it only creeps in at the edges. Where the heck was he hanging out that this would be a constant, daily deluge of anti-short memes? Has Reddit gotten much, much worse since I quit it?

I see it regularly on the top page of r/popular. As pointed out above, it is usually presented in the context of Tinder exchanges, at least on reddit.

It seems like for the last couple of years, the internet has been Really Having A Thing about short men. And it has begun to seep out into broader discourse a little bit. An IRL acquaintance who does the whole TikTok thing made a little joke about "short king energy" a little while back, which surprised me because this person tends to be scrupulously progressive and because the term has a distinct whiff of mockery to it.

Height, weight/body shape, and penis size are three societal benchmarks for bodily masculinity that nearly every child is enculturated with. Of those three, weight/body shape is something that is perceived as generally changeable through one's own actions; penis size is kept hidden most of the time; but height is something that is (a) totally public and (b) not perceived as changeable. In light of that, I wonder if this newfound internet obsession with men's height, especially in the context of online dating, results at least partially from the absolutely relentless body-shaming that women experience all the fucking time. Because I think if I were a woman, if I had been subjected to that body-policing meat grinder from early childhood, I might be fascinated by the discovery that apparently men also have this one very sensitive button that can be pushed, this one thing about their bodies that they can't control and that the whole world can see.
posted by cubeb at 8:02 AM on May 1 [9 favorites]


Growing up ostensibly as a boy I was always shorter than most males in my classes, eventually ending up 5'6". At the same time, I also realized I was trans early on and my height was something I felt very conscious of, in that I actively didn't want to be taller.

My dad was 5'8", mom 5'3" so to me my height feels very "average adult human" and I'm perfectly happy with it and the fact that it doesn't draw attention or comment.

That said, being shorter and slighter than most boys my age did absolutely make me a prime target for bullying in school--albeit in at least one case from someone shorter and probably less happy about that, and in general it wasn't from people who were actually on the big and tall end. I feel acutely aware of relative heights in a room to this day.
posted by Pryde at 8:08 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]


I do think a shared understanding of body dysmorphia would be helpful here. It's useful if we can distinguish subjective suffering from how objectively atypical a bodily characteristic is.

Feminist social scientists have been studying this topic for some time--well before there was a specific term for it. Kathy Davis published a very accessible book in the mid-1990s, based on interviews with women who were seeking and then got plastic surgery. Also, fascinatingly, she interviewed doctors on medical review boards in the Netherlands, in which plastic surgery that was considered "necessary" due to a disorder was covered, but surgery considered "cosmetic" was not. The key findings were:

1. The women planning to get plastic surgery were preoccupied with revulsion for the part of their body they wished altered. They were miserable about it, reported being teased about it their whole lives, and were desperate to change it.

2. The women also wished others to see them as not vain, beauty-obsessed sorts, but as people with an objective malformation. But often, others saw nothing particularly unusual about their hated body part.

3. To support their contention that they were not vain, the women interviewed often talked about how, while they thought their desired surgery was necessary to correct a malformation, other kinds of plastic surgery were cosmetic and unnecessary, and they were untroubled by their, say, smaller breasts or large-ish nose. (You could see this as distressing lateral violence.)

4. Doctors on Dutch medical review boards often saw the body part of a given patient as within the objective normal range. Some still approved some surgeries based on the subjective suffering of the patient, but claimed they did so only when the body part was at the outer range of "normal." (I am sure this contributed to the shift in terminology and frames on the part of plastic surgeons, who today describe a much wider range of bodies as "abnormal." For example, having the more mobile breasts of a person who has nursed babies, which our society tends to disdain as "saggy," is now described by plastic surgeons as "breast ptosis," as on this commercial plastic surgical site.) Ptosis used to be used just to describe the functional problem of having an eyelid that droops over the eye.)

4. After recovering from their surgeries, almost all of the interviewees were very glad they accessed surgical treatment. Many were cured of their dysmorphia, even with imperfect surgical results. They felt much more confident navigating the social world.

5. As for the reactions of others, some interviewees reported that families who had always treated them as the "ugly duckling" now treated them well, or that husbands were very pleased with their revised appearance. But others said that they were depressed to find that while they were happy with their new look, their family dynamics remained unchanged and unsupportive.

So, I'd say there are three factors we shouldn't conflate: the psychological suffering of bodily dysmorphia; the stigmatizing of certain body parts in ways that are shaped by misogyny, racism, ageism, ableism, binary-sex policing, etc.; and the degree to which a bodily characteristic is atypical.

Surgery really does often cure bodily dysmorphia! That's something valuable.

Social injustices really do strongly impact what sorts of bodily dysmorphia people develop! That's something to fight.

And the question of why some people will develop dysmorphia about having a body part that is not considered ideal according to problematic social standards, but is within the "normal" range? We can't answer it. Surely it's related to life experiences like bullying and teasing, but some who encounter these things shrug it off, and some are deeply psychologically scarred.

I do think that it's very important to have empathy for people with dysmorphias, and to respect that they can be cured by surgery. But what makes me sad is that experiencing dysmorphia doesn't at all ensure that the sufferer develops empathy for people unhappy with other bodily characteristics. I wish it were true that a person who wants a nose job or fillers or implants would therefore support medical gender transitions, but apparently people can be pretty bad at identifying with others' suffering. And as I related earlier in the thread, I have had cis men who are way taller than me, a short trans man, bemoan their intolerable shortness.

Still, I have empathy for men who are 5'7" and are deeply dysmorphic about that objectively-not-very-atypical height. I hope they can access the interventions they desire.
posted by DrMew at 8:11 AM on May 1 [64 favorites]


I can honestly say I've never in my life experienced any issues because of my height.

I'm a woman, and I can honestly say I've never experienced any of the issues that "all" girls and women face. This doesn't mean that women who report having these experiences are delusional.
posted by cinchona at 8:16 AM on May 1 [18 favorites]


I've never felt height discrimination because I'm 5'8", the only Perfect Height. Anything shorter is too short, anything taller is too tall. Guy in the OP is getting surgery to be too tall and that's his choice to make, people get horns embedded in their foreheads, fork their tongues, comb their hair, or surgically alter themselves into walruses and we still accept them and try not to stare.

Anyway, just saying pay no mind to folks online talking about other people's heights, they don't have to disclose their height so just assume all the people talkin trash are too-tall or too-short freaks of nature. Decent people who are 5'8" are not out there harassing folks for their malformed body length. It's hard to explain to people with incorrect heights, but being 5'8" brings a kind of passive, constant, hum of pleasure and ease -- almost like hearing the heartbeat of the universe and every molecule within it is smiling upon you, sharing in your blessing. It might be possible to get on your tippy-toes or bend down to get a brief taste of it if you can manage to hold position at the exact right spot, but if you felt, you'd instantly get why the twisted height of others does not matter when your own is so cosmically significant.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:32 AM on May 1 [17 favorites]


There is so much Tiktok content and the algorithm is so effective at finding stuff that you engage with that if you use that app while actively hating something about yourself it will eventually figure it out.

I believe him when he says a large fraction of the tiktoks he sees include women mocking men for their height.
posted by zymil at 8:47 AM on May 1 [9 favorites]


Mocking men because of their height seems like something someone with poor self-esteem and a gross personality would do.
posted by chasing at 9:02 AM on May 1 [4 favorites]


Virago, I was under the impression that being a short guy might be a disadvantage in gay circles as well. Is this inaccurate?

I’d defer to a shorter gay guy’s experiences here, but at least from my perspective — gay men can be shitty about a lot of body shape stuff, but surprisingly, I don’t recall seeing a lot of Grindr profiles where someone said their partner had to be over a certain height. Based on what else I’ve seen, I will just say I don’t think it’s out of fear of body shaming or being politically incorrect, because there is plenty of that. Maybe this is because in most gay pairings, someone has to be the shorter man — I also just might not be that attuned to it.

On the other hand, I also have good friends who are short straight guys (or tall women), and based on our conversations male height seems to be much more of a preoccupation on straight Tinder profiles. Some of it seems to be the man’s height relative to the woman he’s dating, some of it seems to be more about absolutes.

It’s interesting that surgery is so effective for dysmorphia, but it does actually make sense to me as someone who has a minor birth defect and has lurked on a lot of forums about it. I wonder if it’s partly about locus of control stuff, and maybe also resolving ambivalence. Knowing something that bothers you is in principle fixable, but not having the resources (or probably worse, feeling conflicted about spending them), strikes me as a really sticky situation for certain brains; psychologically I feel like it’s much easier to accept something that you literally can’t change.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:08 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]


It's useful if we can distinguish subjective suffering from how objectively atypical a bodily characteristic is.

I think this is key. I briefly worked as a before-and-after photographer for a renowned plastic surgeon. It was a weird job. There were some patients where, I could understand why they wanted a procedure, as it was for some feature that was atypical. As someone with an atypical feature myself, that is socially agreed to be "ugly" I get it, really.

But then there was the woman who made me take 50+ photos of her face to capture the "huge bump" under her one eye that was causing her a lot of distress, and after each shot commented "Ugh, you haven't captured how big it is." I'm sure people know where I'm going here - the bump was not big - I wouldn't have noticed it if she hadn't pointed it out. This was a woman who had already had several procedures, and seemed deeply unhappy for reasons that would not be cured from having a fifth procedure on her body.
posted by coffeecat at 9:16 AM on May 1 [8 favorites]


back in my high school days, I heard about a guy named Drew (from another school). He hated his name. Other kids could be jerks with a name like Drew -- the things it rhymed with etc. So he decided to go with his middle name instead, which was Richard, which quickly got shortened to Rick ... and then everybody started calling him Drick.
posted by philip-random at 9:25 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]


male height seems to be much more of a preoccupation on straight Tinder profiles

Tinder users, in my experience, tend to skew young and are unfamiliar with adult dating. I found the demographics that Tinder usually attracted, or at least were thrown in my swipe bucket, were the same type that wanted to get married, have kids and settle down. Simply they were sorority types who had an idealized view of adulthood.

Eventually nothing else matters except being able to fart in bed and yell, "toilet paper, we're out of toilet paper!" and not worry about being judged.
posted by geoff. at 10:19 AM on May 1 [5 favorites]


Mocking men because of their height seems like something someone with poor self-esteem and a gross personality would do.

I'm 100% with you, but being in a place where I could say that and actually mean it was hard work that took time. At 5'9" I realize that I've never gotten as much shit about it as others but almost all the men in my family at 6'2" or more. I'm fat too which is a different take on the same kind of thing.

If you're short, yeah you should get over it but no "just" about it, it's hard work!

OTOH, it's not all bad. I've slimmed down into a more average range and I'm average height for a US male so almost every damn thing is built for people my size. It's some incredible privilege that tall people just don't have. Just be average height beanpole!*

*Obviously everything should just be build to fit as many body types as possible. Everyone should have this feeling like world was built for folks their size, whatever that size might be.
posted by VTX at 11:00 AM on May 1 [4 favorites]


I'm a guy who's 5'6". I've made it into my 60s, and my height has never really been an issue in my adult life, either in my careers or in relationships. Ok, no supermodel ever crushed on me. But otherwise... healthy, happy, successful, now retired, and with my soulmate for over 30 years.

Maybe in this age of data-driven hookups, height might be more of a thing. I think that some of the old ways to meet people are still better, and no I don't mean bars: join a local group that's into the same things that you are - hiking, photography, hackerspace, amateur theatre, etc etc.

I cannot imagine putting two healthy and working legs to such risk, for such a seemingly superficial goal.
posted by Artful Codger at 11:03 AM on May 1 [5 favorites]


Uhh… I don’t recall having my flesh rent and my bones cracked the last time I went to Lenscrafters…

That's not really the point. I swear, it's like people disagree with me for the sake of disagreement. The point is that a lot of people who comment negatively on the individual in the article also get medical enhancements. The point isn't that one is more extreme than the other. The point is that said enhancement, vision correction, is commonplace now, when it once wasn't.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:35 AM on May 1


Interestingly, a lot of people on this site and on the web in general seem to wear prescription eyeglasses, which were a cosmetic rarity...

Let me stop you right there: prescription glasses do have a cosmetic impact, but it is not a cosmetic procedure. You do it to be able to see properly, not for how it makes you look. Yes, you have options given that you have to wear a set of frames on your face, but the intervention is fundamentally functional, not cosmetic.

If you are talking non-prescription glasses, then sure, but that's a very niche thing.


My impression is that tall women are more socially acceptable than they used to be. Thoaght?

Maybe? It kinda depends, I think. People certainly use it as a vector of abuse for anyone insufficiently feminine, not of the right race, or who are trans. And you definitely do still hear men saying things like "I couldn't date a woman who is taller than me".
posted by Dysk at 11:47 AM on May 1 [6 favorites]


How much of these guys' pain is actually caused by being knocked back, and how much is caused by the amplification and magnification these communities do?

Exactly. Heightism is absolutely a thing, but these communities for men to commiserate with each other about being short are bitter, angry, combative, and destructive. They amplify and obsess over any social media post or Tinder exchange that mocks short men. They often invent fake posts to get angry over. They do not boost each other up, promote body positivity, or discuss healthy coping mechanisms. They tend to be very misogynistic and fatphobic as well. There's a lot of crossover with the incel communities, unsurprisingly.
posted by Stoof at 12:17 PM on May 1 [23 favorites]


I have no trouble believing men get judged on their height the same way women are judged on their weight. And it's very hard emotionally to fight these ingrained social prejudices even if you realize that they're bullshit. I can't criticize him for having surgery, but it's just heartbreaking that he feels the need to have it - just as so many women go on crazy and harmful diets to fit in smaller size clothes. (And I've seen guys on dating apps gripe about women rejecting them for height and in one case the loss of a hand, then turn around and give low weight or size limits for women they'll date.)

But it does remind me of a guy I went to high school with who was very sure his dating and friendship woes were all because his nose was too big. And no one wanted to say, "No one cares about your nose. You have an obnoxious personality." This guy is getting comments about his height (as an adult! WTF is wrong with people?), so it's not all in his mind. But I think people can get obsessed with what they are sure is causing their problems when there are other factors they aren't aware of.
posted by FencingGal at 1:02 PM on May 1 [10 favorites]


The reference that keeps popping into my mind is the main character of "Life and Loves of a She-Devil" back in the 80s--except that that was a woman getting surgery to be shorter. That's the only instance of major surgery on leg bones to change one's height that I had heard of previously (and it was fictional).
posted by gimonca at 1:33 PM on May 1 [4 favorites]


It's just always seemed especially absurd to me that the world fetishizes tall people so much, given how much of a pain in the ass it is to walk around all day bumping your head on things.

Doesn't seem that surprising when you consider how many fetishized things about women there are that cause difficulties for people who have them.
posted by straight at 2:02 PM on May 1 [5 favorites]


I’m a 53 year old 5’6” cishet male and my height has never been a problem in my adult life, but I’m pretty sure that’s at least partly because I’ve always been a performer of some type, acting and orchestra in school, rock bands ever since, and I was lucky enough to have relationships starting as a teen with people I thought were beautiful, intelligent, and good. I was teased about my height as a younger kid, but always had great friends and eventually girlfriends who treated me well. Who knows how I would have turned out if those things had been different?
posted by outfielder at 2:44 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]


And to not abuse the edit window, I’ve never made a living as a performer, I’ve always had day jobs, but I do pretty well in my professional life, I think the confidence to get onstage helps my career also.
posted by outfielder at 2:48 PM on May 1 [1 favorite]


It took me a long time to learn that just because some trait (or trauma) I have hasn't seemed like it's been a problem for me doesn't mean that it actually hasn't and especially that it doesn't mean it's not been a problem for other people. I project from my own experience when doing so results in empathy and I resist doing so when it results in a denial of empathy.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:48 PM on May 1 [21 favorites]


I'm a 5'2" cis (well, leaning hard nb) hetero man, so I'm... pretty far off the bell curve. My height has caused me problems for my entire life, entirely in the social realm. I got bullied for it relentlessly throughout my childhood all the way through high school. The bullying ended once I got to college, and for the most part adults do not try to belittle me for my height. You'd be surprised though, occasionally I'll have a particularly immature coworker who will make an off-color comment about it. I have made peace with my height, but that still rankles a little because it calls to mind all that old bullying. I also have had random assholes in bars belittle me, like the time a dude said to me in the restoom, "hey bro, this isn't the woman's room."

But really, as an adult, usually the worst I get is that any man who's taller than me but under 5'8" or so is invariably gonna make some comment like, "finally, I'm not the shortest guy in the room!" Which is a little obnoxious, but I don't care.

Let me tell you, too: my dating pool is tiny. I'm sorry, that's just what it is. A huge proportion of women in the US won't date anyone shorter than them, and this effect gets more pronounced the wider the height disparity. Most of my partners have been exactly my height. I don't mind that at all, I like the feeling of equality that engenders, but it does mean I don't have as many viable dating options, you know? I have a long-term partner now who's great though, so hopefully dating woes are a thing of the past.

The one time I dated a woman taller than me, we constantly got comments about it, even extremely rude comments from strangers on the street. If some random guy comes up to you and tries to congratulate you for dating a taller woman, in front of your date... How the hell do you even respond to that?

Throughout my life, I've liked hanging out with women more than men (though I have plenty of male friends too). I'm in an extremely woman-dominated profession, and I think that probably helps me avoid a lot of the heightism that would stymie my career in other professions (though I'd bet there's still a subtle effect from it).

These days the biggest problem I have with my height is that it makes clothes shopping incredibly difficult. Most of my wardrobe is unisex-looking women's clothing, childrens' clothing, or unisex clothing (hipster brands were a godsend for this in the 2010's... I miss American Apparel, but Uniqlo is great these days). Professional clothes present the biggest obstacle. I've taken to getting work shirts made-to-order, which is very expensive, but it is wonderful to have a shirt that JUST FITS.

Growing up I was actually very aware of that leg-breaking surgery, but while I did have my insecurities in adolescence, I never went so far off the deep end that I would consider something that invasive. But I get it... Especially as a young man, having 3 extra inches of height would have made a world of difference to me.

I'll tell you one thing, I think the idea of the "Napolean Complex" is a pernicious, bigoted stereotype. It's really easy for someone to say that an ambitious short person has a napolean complex, but that label would obviously never get applied to a taller person with the same personality and ambition. I mean, I've met short people who are oversensitive about their height and act like assholes because of their insecurity, but people are assholes about all kinds of insecurities.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 9:22 PM on May 1 [39 favorites]


The thing is, I actually really like being very small, it's the world that doesn't like me to be small.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 9:37 PM on May 1 [23 favorites]


I can't give anyone crap about this. Shaming short dudes is A Thing. Heck, shaming tall ladies for dating a guy a few inches shorter is also A Thing (I note pretty much every tall lady I know has a husband a few inches shorter). If it's worth it to him, it's worth it to him. That is certainly a lot of "worth it to him," clearly!

That said, I've known some short dudes who absolutely didn't care and still managed to have good lives and find ladies. I've known some ladies who are very short who prefer shorter men (and one lady who said she *wanted* a shorter man and ended up with a tall one) so they can reach him easier. I feel bad because I'm of average lady size and had better times dating 6 foot and over men than the shorter ones--but then again, the shorter ones I dated were being REALLY pushy on me and scared me, so I dunno there. And while yeah, it's useful as heck to have a tall dude around to fetch and carry stuff I can't manage, sometimes you're all "I wish I could just easily snuggle on his shoulder while standing already instead of hitting his armpit here."
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:15 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, one other thing about being 5'2" that's funny and annoying: People think I’m way younger than I am consistently, despite my rapidly greying beard. I’m pretty sure I’ll be a shriveled octogenarian with a cane and people will still be carding me at R rated movies.

I guess it’s one of those cognitive biases that overrides vision and common sense.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 10:47 PM on May 1 [3 favorites]


Just thinking about this as a nonbinary trans person. This isn't just something cis men might want.

I think a healthier society would:
A: treat people's height as a less salient feature in terms of social advantage as well as gender identity.
B: Support and affirm folks who want to change their bodies to suit themselves, including changing their height.
C. Support and affirm folks to be comfortable staying as they are, even if they are different in some way.

I don't see these as conflicting goals: all three are essential for me as a trans person.

Ultimately I want people to be happy and comfortable in their bodies, and for people to care less about others' bodies and the choices someone makes with theirs.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 10:55 PM on May 1 [8 favorites]


About the "Napoleon complex"-- he wasn't even short for his era. He was called the Little Corporal, but that was affection, not height... and the English and the French used different sized inches in that era.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 11:13 PM on May 1 [3 favorites]


So I went to this surgeon's TikTok page as I was going to send this friend and I'm really a lot more uncomfortable with this. I'm fully supportive of people who have body issues and if long-term studies show this as working in the sense that people are happy with the outcome, great. It is a free country.

However, this guy has some cringe worthy dorky doctor TikToks while clearly preying on young men's desire to be taller. One was 17 and 5'2", I'm sure he's a good doctor and there's someway to tell puberty is over, but I grew several inches at around that time. A lot of 17 year olds watching this probably aren't that short and are still growing. By virtue of being on TikTok and his "cool" videos he's definitely catering to a younger crowd. Some of his videos specifically address teenagers who are going through puberty and he tells them to eat better, etc. then the next video is "grow 3" permanently."

I'm torn between making people feel comfortable having this surgery and then capitalizing on nearly every male teenager's fear of being short or small. That even tall men over six foot want the surgery again shows that there's always room to be taller and honestly I can see tall teenagers who think they'll have a competitive advantage in sports consider this. He even has a TikTok about how you'll be fine in high intensity sports after breaking the bone and extending it several inches. This article specifically mentions problems with strenuous sports. I'm assuming long-term studies simply haven't been done.

As others have noted cosmetic plastic surgeons often tread a thin line between helping people and actively creating markets for themselves.
posted by geoff. at 11:17 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]


I propose a short/tall shopping coalition. I’ll team up with a 5’2” lady, and we’ll cut a few inches off her pant legs and sew them onto mine.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:45 PM on May 1 [5 favorites]


The point is that a lot of people who comment negatively on the individual in the article also get medical enhancements.

Me too. I guess. I could have mentioned that I have two titanium hip joints and a pace-maker. Also, glasses.

Just to be clear, I don't make fun of bodily dysmorphia. Pain and shame are real things. We are complex creatures. I have sympathy for Scott, who went through such pain and expense to get some peace. An appropriate topic might be why he thought the solution to his emotional distress was to get longer leg bones. Opinions matter. But it isn't Scott's opinions that troubled him.

My mother used to say "The soul takes it out on the body." Over the years, I've grown to understand what she meant.
posted by mule98J at 12:46 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


I am 5'4", and I would kill to be 5'7". Nobody has ever taken me seriously in my life because I am short, chubby and weird-looking. I was teased mercilessly as a child and dismissively as an adult. I am closing in on 60 now, and don't feel like this surgery would be worth it, but if I were 25 again, I would do it.
posted by briank at 2:23 AM on May 1 [35 favorites +] [!]


I'm a 4'11" woman and throughout my entire adult life I've been treated dismissively and spoken to as if I'm a child. I've even had someone pat me on the head in a work situation. I work for a very large organisation and I've seen how short men are treated, as if they are irrelevant. For some who have succeeded, they have often behaved unpleasantly in order to assert their authority, and are then tarnished with the Little Man Syndrome label. Maybe they would still be arseholes if they were tall, but I can see how, if he's treated as if he's a boy in a man's world, a man would want to exaggerate his more macho traits in order for his peers to take him seriously.

Now I'm past 60, and I'm chubby and weird-looking too, so I'm now truly into Invisible Crone territory. It's been a while since I answered the door and was asked if my mum was home, which used to happen right up until I was about 45. I would love just once to get round the supermarket without having to ask someone to reach an item on a high shelf. On the plus side, the days of a guy gesturing at his crotch, winking and saying "while you're down there ..." are long gone for me.
posted by essexjan at 1:40 AM on May 2 [17 favorites]


My father must be short - that is, he is slightly shorter than my mother was, and she was about my height. And he's a little shorter now that he's old. As a kid this just seemed normal to me and even now I feel that the normal height for both women and men is about 5" 4'. Men who loom over me seem sort of weird, especially in multiples - like, in my social circle there are a few tall people but they are outliers; I have a friend I think of as my tall friend. I assume that this is some kind of assortative thing - if you're a tall man, society rewards you and therefore you are more likely to grow up to lead a...well, let's say a conventional, non-bohemian life and seek conventional non-bohemian rewards, and therefore we are less likely to meet in any but some kind of professional context.

I will say that my parents' exceedingly happy marriage has given me a strong social bias in favor of men who date taller women, and in general (to report a cluster of anecdotes) the men I know who are married to taller women have had better marriages, perhaps because they both weren't bringing too much gender bullshit to the table.

I was at a large art weirdo event yesterday and it strikes me in retrospect that there just weren't too many really tall people there, as there generally are not. I'm 5' 5" and if there had been a lot of average-to-tall men present I would not have been able to see.

My point being that I think there are some hidden aspects to being short if you can navigate all the wretched stuff - mainly to do with getting past a lot of the gender bullshit and normie values hard-charging alpha male bullshit.
posted by Frowner at 5:32 AM on May 2 [5 favorites]


I've heard that entrepreneurs are more likely to be short. It's at least possible that people who are blocked from success in existing organizations will start their own organizations if possible.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 5:59 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Mocking men because of their height seems like something someone with poor self-esteem and a gross personality would do.

The patriarchy harms us all and conditions some of this low self-esteem. The resulting behavior, I agree with some above, sure feels like opportunistic attacks when the otherwise very minimized and cruelly judged find a tiny vulnerability in the oppressor. The fact the oppressor isn't actually the slightly shorter male is irrelevant at that moment.

I've had man-dating women friends who exclaim they will only date taller men. These same people were also taller women. These same people wanted to feel a certain way (at that time in their 20s and 30s) that they didn't feel they could achieve with certain body types. Not everyone does the work to introspect on their preferences and tease apart what is familiar from what is positive.

Being mad at the patriarchy and using these minor vulnerabilities to express it gives an opportunity to men who might otherwise not have ever experienced this kind of insecurity to imagine how it would feel to face it all the time for everything. It's easier, however, to focus on the words and how they make a guy feel than why someone might want them to feel that way.
posted by abulafa at 6:27 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Mocking men because of their height seems like something someone with poor self-esteem and a gross personality would do.

I'm pretty sure it's what normal people do. Normal is sort of a low standard.

I don't generally find that sort of thing much of a consolation. It's easier on the nerves to be liked, or at least viewed neutrally a great deal of the time.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:47 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


hat even tall men over six foot want the surgery again shows that there's always room to be taller and honestly I can see tall teenagers who think they'll have a competitive advantage in sports consider this.

I'm over 6', and the idea of wanting to be even taller boggles my mind. The entire world is constructed for shorter people (for a very narrow range of "normal," leaving people functioning in a world designed for 5'10" men); clothes shopping is a pain; car shopping is a pain; older houses have low doorways everywhere; etc.

I've always thought that if I could select a height, right around 5'10" or 5'11" would be the magic spot. I think I'd keep much of my tall privilege at that height, but without all the hassles of being taller. So I can completely understand why someone who is on the shorter side of the bell curve would want to add a few inches to get into the normative range -- all of a sudden, your body would fit the expectations of the physical and social worlds, and I can only imagine how good that might feel for that person who previously felt excluded from key things in their life.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:48 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


I was at a large art weirdo event yesterday and it strikes me in retrospect that there just weren't too many really tall people there, as there generally are not.

There was specifically a party for large art weirdos and you didn't even get any tall people? Huh. Goes to show, I guess.

Not that it would matter to anyone else, but I like all kinds of boys, tall and short. Two of my outlier boyfriends probably differ by a foot. When I was young and foolish, though, I was particularly drawn towards the idea of a man who would be a "gentle giant" -- who'd be big and tall enough to be careful and secure with the world and with me. This turns out not to be a given. A tall man can be a big asshole as easy as anybody. But I am sure I was not alone in believing this.

Being 5'7", I am pretty average as a woman, but for some reason I grew up feeling tall and ungainly, which I still do sometimes. Maybe it's because I shot up at an early age, past my mother and past the popular girls in my class, growing in other directions as well.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:48 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


I would love just once to get round the supermarket without having to ask someone to reach an item on a high shelf.

Heh. I (6'2") was once grocery shopping with my (5'2") wife (something we usually do individually) when a woman approached me. "Excuse me..." she said. "Oh, sure what do you need?" I asked. "Those pickles" she answered pointing to the top shelf. I grabbed them and handed them to her practically before she had finished pointing. Afterwards, my wife asked how I instantly knew what the woman needed, and I explained that it happened almost every time I went to the supermarket, and I considered it community service to always help graciously and immediately. Ask away, essexjan!
posted by Rock Steady at 6:57 AM on May 2 [8 favorites]


when I am the longer being you can always count on me
posted by Countess Elena at 7:00 AM on May 2 [6 favorites]


I'll tell you one thing, I think the idea of the "Napolean Complex" is a pernicious, bigoted stereotype.

He was 5'6"! So sick of hearing this phrase.
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:01 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


My wife is a trans woman (transitioned after we'd been married almost 10 years); I'm a cis woman. We're both 5'8"; I outweigh her significantly.

She's been interested in the perception switch from being considered average/short to being considered average/tall. I'm more interested in the fact that being the same height doesn't bother me at all now that she's presenting female, and it did to some degree when she was presenting male. It shouldn't have, by all rights--my mother is two inches taller than my father so the taller-woman thing has always been present in my life--but there it is. It just feels more balanced, as two women (in spite of the fact that my end of the seesaw will ALWAYS go down) and I feel much more comfortable being the big spoon. I guess there's something that really socially ingrains women's desire to be the shorter partner.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:08 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


When I was driving big trucks cross-country, my co-driver went on to other things, so the truck's owner asked a friend to sub for a few weeks while she scouted around for a more permanent replacement. The sub was a young woman (maybe in her early 20s). She was barely over five feet tall, slender, with a boyish haircut, and she wore what I guess would be tomboy clothes. She was gay. I mention her description for relevance. She was a good driver, exceptionally skilled at backing our 45' reefer into tight places.

During the weeks we drove together, she was often referred to by truckstop people as my son. When she was at the fuel desk trying to pay for our fuel, they usually asked her to show her driver's license, which she did. They often chuckled and kidded her good-naturedly about being too young to have a license. Those few who noticed that she was female usually froze for a second or two to adjust to their paradigm. She received their condescending remarks with grace. At first, I thought this was funny. However, after a few conversations with her about it, I realized that she found it tiresome; by the time she left the truck to return to her other life, I understood a little what "tiresome" can mean if there's no end to it in sight.
posted by mule98J at 7:32 AM on May 2 [10 favorites]


I was pondering how six feet tall is only 10% taller than 5 foot 5 and wondered how so tiny a difference is given so much meaningfulness.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:34 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


I get it. I'm pissed that I'm bald, started at like 22. My body is not a sacred temple, I'd change the stuff I could if I had the money.

I have bowed legs too, at 5'10". My knees are not friends. Always wondered if I could get to 6' straightening them out. Or if I'll have horrible pain when I get old, that's more important. So far, so good.

I tore my achillies tendon and had to wear a boot lift that took me from 5'10" to 6'3" for like 6 weeks. It was an experience.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:46 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]




I first read about this kind of procedure at some point in what seems like the distant past - 15, 20 years ago - strictly in the context of its use among a low number of people with dwarfism, to make their physical lives somewhat easier in the not-constructed-for-them world we inhabit. There was the same kind of controversy in the little person community as there is regarding cochlear implants in the Deaf community.
posted by Occula at 9:59 AM on May 2


Possibly even more controversial has been medication treatments for achondroplasia in children. It can't be done in adults, so the people making the decision are parents, who are usually not themselves little people.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:33 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


The first time I heard of this surgery was an article in Jezebel (that I linked on MeFi before, but as a comment) by Prachi Gupta.

Stories About My Brother

There it was alienation caused by an intersection of shortness, being Asian etc., that led him down a dark path.

I have become more cognizant of this watching my nephews deal with these same problems. One of them openly complains about his skin tone, and why he is not happy that he is not as 'white looking' as I am. I tell him, gently, that even though my skin tone may be a bit lighter than his; it is only Indians who notice the difference. For most people I am just another brown man. But it is difficult to convince him. Another nephew is dealing with the height issue, but thankfully he has had a growth spurt. I know they are on social media (especially reddit), and I am trying to keep them from being influenced by the MRA talk, especially as it relates to Asian men. But it is kinda difficult as I don't want to involve their parents in this (my nephews talk to me in confidence).

When they go online and find other Indian dudes who feel similarly, it gives them a weird sense of community. And it is a small journey to becoming like Prachi's brother.
posted by indianbadger1 at 11:12 AM on May 2 [8 favorites]


It appears that one day Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and [Owen] Lovejoy were traveling together in a stagecoach to Bloomington, Illinois for a court case. Douglas, with his long torso and short legs, looked over at Lovejoy and poked fun at his short body and disproportionately long legs. Lovejoy returned the jab by mocking Douglas’s long torso and short legs.

In the midst of this good-natured ribbing, one of them turned to Lincoln and asked, “How long should a man’s legs be in proportion to his body?” Lincoln, in his typical wry fashion, replied, “I have not given the matter much consideration, but on first blush I should judge they ought to be long enough to reach from his body to the ground.”
‘How long should a man’s legs be?’ and 2 Other Lincoln Stories
posted by kirkaracha at 11:17 AM on May 2


Speaking as an AMAB guy from a family of Tall People (mom was 5'10", dad was 6'3") who turned out barely average, height advantage is definitely a thing that exists. Is it as serious a social issue within American or Western society as discrimination based on genital configuration, skin tone, or a bunch of other stuff? No, and I don't think any reasonable person would assert that.

Yeah, there are shitty incel-types who use height discrimination as a weird justification for their both-sidesing justification of misogyny. This is shitty. It's not shitty because height discrimination doesn't exist, it's shitty because it's an attempt to justify misogyny.

It's not entirely clear to me why height is as socially valuable as it is for men, because (as others have pointed out) being taller than average starts to get annoying pretty fast. I guess that at times in the past, height was correlated to good childhood nutrition, and probably considered a sign of health/wealth. In unarmed or close combat it confers some advantages. In the modern context, I'm suspicious that it's probably entwined with white supremacy and the ideal physique being a tall, muscular, Northern European / Aryan-esque dude.

If I had the opportunity to be a few inches taller without somewhat-horrifying orthopedic legbreaker surgery, would I take it? Hell yes. (I'd also take a faster metabolism, squarer jaw, and less-delicate wrists, if you're going to Masculinity Mall. But only if they're on sale. Oh, and I'm almost out of knees, so see if they have those?) I'd want to know the fine print, but I'd probably be willing to absorb some moderate side-effects if they had a drug that would make me grow the additional few inches that I was "supposed to", but for whatever reason never did.

Though, do I think my life would be that different if I'd managed to break 6'? Probably not. I'd probably command a slightly higher salary, get talked over slightly less in meetings, and slept with moderately more people in college and my 20s. (And I'd be able to ride those stupidly high-seated ADV bikes.) It strikes me as being on the same order as having straight teeth: valuable, worth some limited amount of pain and suffering, but not risking death or permanent damage for. But that's just its worth to me. To someone else, for whom it's a focus of significant body dysmorphia, it might be worth a lot more. Not really my place, or anyone else's, to tell them they're wrong, I don't think.

Perhaps modern dating apps would would put me at a serious disadvantage?

Online dating apps that allow users to quickly filter for (or swipe based on a glance at) height certainly seem like they'd magnify the issue and make it a more high-stakes metric than it would otherwise be. There's an obvious incentive to juke the stats if you think people won't even reply to you if they see you're under 5'10" or whatever, and this produces an 'arms race' effect where even if you're fine with your height, you might feel the need to add an inch or two because you assume everyone assumes you will. (See also: every self-reported penis size ever.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:31 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


meanwhile, I've been seeing a lot of very body positive posting on my lesbian/urban planning/Chinese history and cultural commentary/lefty TikTok feed on and about short kings
posted by paimapi at 2:02 PM on May 2


indianbadger1, thank you for including a link to Prachi Gupta's strong and heartbreaking essay about her brother. (It was the subject of a MeFi FPP that elicited thoughtful discussion a couple of years ago.)

Anyway, I've thought some more about leg-lengthening, and I wanted to put out there that while I will neither disparage someone for undergoing this procedure, nor second-guess their reasons, I wish we lived in a world where nobody felt they had to do this in order to find love, self-worth, or respect.
posted by virago at 3:30 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Trans blogger Pax Ahimsa Gethen considers dysphoria and whether limb-lengthening for cis people is a fair comparison to the gender-affirming surgeries pursued by trans people: Cisgender Affirming Surgeries: The gender binary hurts everyone, but is breaking bones a cure?
posted by Lexica at 4:10 PM on May 2 [8 favorites]


I'm an average height cis woman married to a cis man shorter than me. I run with a very left-wing feminist crowd, but even when I was younger I definitely got some "oh I just couldn't date someone shorter than me, I like the feeling of being with someone bigger than me" comments from my friends early in our relationship. It was always an incredibly fucking weird thing to hear, like how the hell am I supposed to respond to that?

Hetero women are absolutely socialized to desire taller men as a "natural" preference they don't need to interrogate as a vestige of patriarchal conditioning. A lot of people who should know better shrug it off in ways that walk right up to the line of some evo psych claptrap that would put everyone on edge if the shoe were on the other foot, and men just said how it was natural that they want women with a hip:waist ratio for childbearing or something similar.

The only time I can think that our height difference actually was something we had to navigate meaningfully was our wedding photos. I specifically sought out an LGBTQ wedding photographer because I did not want someone putting us in weird cliched heternormative poses that relied on "the woman gazing lovingly up at the man." (Our photos turned out beautifully!)
posted by mostly vowels at 5:17 PM on May 2 [10 favorites]


There is one thing from this article I don't get:

He paused our interview and pulled out his phone to show me a TikTok from @flossybaby, one of his favorite influencers. “When I see a woman that is 5'8", I’m like, ‘That’s a tall woman,’” she says to the camera. “But when I see a man that is 5'8", I’m like, ‘Look! A garden gnome!’” In the comments, users had added to the bit: “No because who let him out unsupervised.” Humiliation flashed across Scott’s face. “Before the surgery, I was 5'7". I was not even a garden gnome to her.”

I do not understand how you can count someone who is awful about an entire group of people like this - a group to which you belong, especially, as it cannot simply be ignored - among your favourites. I cannot imagine how you get to a point of "this person has awful opinions about characteristic x that I have, I had better stop having characteristic x" instead of "wow this person is an asshole, fuck them". I cannot fathom it.

Like, I'm trans, and for sake of comparison I cannot comprehend seeing one of my existing favourite artists or whatever coming out as a massive transphobe and responding to that not with "fuck you, asshole" but instead with effectively "fuck me".
posted by Dysk at 6:34 PM on May 2 [13 favorites]


The only time I can think that our height difference actually was something we had to navigate meaningfully was our wedding photos.

One of my best friends is a 5’1” woman married to a 6’5” man. NGL, at first glance a couple of their rejected wedding pictures looked like First Communion pictures.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:10 PM on May 2


Like, I'm trans, and for sake of comparison I cannot comprehend seeing one of my existing favourite artists or whatever coming out as a massive transphobe and responding to that not with "fuck you, asshole" but instead with effectively "fuck me".

I think it's still always as usual just more misogyny. What is the most valuable thing about a woman? That she be young and hot. An alpha man gets a young hot woman - her personality doesn't really matter as long as she's compliant with him and her interests don't really matter as long as they aren't too weird because they will be secondary to his. Unless the young hot woman is poisoned by feminism, she understands that she is supposed to be the prize only for an alpha man, so she has contempt for the other men who might aspire to her.

So if you want to be an alpha man, you have to want to have a young hot woman, and she recognizes your virtues in a transactional way - she's hot, you're a hard-charging 6 foot finance bro, etc. She's a thing to you, you're a thing to her.

And that means that while her judgement of your qualities as a father or a sex partner or a moral human are totally irrelevant, her judgement of your qualities as an alpha male is absolute. If she says that you're violent and talk over others and are as selfish and heartless as a toad in a stone, that doesn't matter; if she says you're a garden gnome, she is absolutely right.

Basically, the guy cares about patriarchy far more than he cares about himself, his happiness or other people in his life. Some people fight for Ukraine, some people fight against expanded police powers, some people create harm reduction spaces for heroin users; he sacrifices his life for patriarchy.
posted by Frowner at 5:04 AM on May 3 [9 favorites]


Yeah, that's kind of the thing I don't get - being subject to standards you feel you cannot meet, and reacting to that with something other than "well fuck your dumbass standards anyway" is just so alien to me.

Is it a problem a few extra inches of leg bone will solve? I mean, for this guy's sake I hope so, but I have my doubts.
posted by Dysk at 9:08 AM on May 3


Hi all, first post on this site. Came here after a vanity search revealed that someone linked to my blog entry on this subject (thanks Lexica). Ended up reading the entire thread; great discussion!

FWIW (since I didn't mention it in my blog entry), I'm 5' 4", which was considered perfectly average when I was living as a US-American woman, but short now that I'm presenting as male (though I'm actually agender). I'm personally fine with my height, and honestly can't remember being teased about it in the eight years since I began my gender transition. But I know that many guys, both cis and trans, are mocked about their height, and that's not OK.

It's sad to me that a man taller than I am would be so distraught or bullied over their height that they'd resort to limb-lengthening surgery. But ultimately, that's their business.
posted by Funcrunch at 1:03 PM on May 4 [8 favorites]


Yeah, that's kind of the thing I don't get - being subject to standards you feel you cannot meet, and reacting to that with something other than "well fuck your dumbass standards anyway" is just so alien to me.

I guess that depends on how much power you are allowed to yield and the consequences you can skirt. Trump broke a lot of standards he didn't like as President. So do anti-vaxxers. Breaking standards is neither a personality nor necessarily positive. Most of us aren't in the position to break every part of the status quo we dislike. And most people we like/have to be around have at least a few things about them that we personally disagree with, unless I guess you are only associating with your clone. Being angry about one or two things doesn't necessarily involve rejecting them as an entire person.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:35 PM on May 4


whether limb-lengthening for cis people is a fair comparison to the gender-affirming surgeries pursued by trans people

Okay, but that's... can we agree that's a really high bar?

There are a lot of people who make permanent, maybe dangerous, definitely painful, modifications to their bodies for what amount to idiosyncratic, aesthetic reasons. And those aesthetics are almost always strongly influenced by our patriarchal (and more often than not, racist) culture. It's possible to know all of that, and still decide "you know, I think I'd look better if I [were three inches taller / had a C cup instead of an A / had less neck fat / had a firmer ass / had a sick sleeve tattoo]".

Part of body autonomy is letting people do stuff to themselves, and I don't think the bar for that should be the kind of severe body dysmorphia that many trans people describe themselves feeling.

On a personal note—I'm not really pro-cosmetic-surgery. I have watched someone die from a not-even-botched cosmetic surgery, leaving a partner and two kids behind. I was legitimately angry with them for a long time afterwards for making that decision. But I don't think it's right to tell someone they can't do that, or to establish some arbitrary level of self-loathing or discomfort (or ideological correctness) that someone has to feel before their choice is legitimate.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:11 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]


What makes me worry a bit is the... TikTokification of these sorts of interventions. Like, the surgeon in the article is also an influencer. It seems like the subject of the article formed some really strong one-sided connections with influencers online and he went from "my favorite tiktok account is being mean about short men" to "listening to hours of leg-lengthening podcasts featuring a celebrity surgeon" to "saving up $75k to be operated on by this surgeon."

I'm not saying he was brainwashed into this or anything, but it's really really easy to be... well.. influenced by "influencers". It's in the name. I'm not saying there's anything you could or should do about this phenomenon but it's striking how much it seemed to affect this guy, both on the push and pull side.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:26 PM on May 4 [7 favorites]


Kadin2048 - Not sure if you read my blog entry or just the summary Lexica posted here, but I didn't suggest that a cis person's choice to undergo limb-lengthening surgery was illegitimate or should be disallowed. If my words came across that way, that's not what I intended, for what it's worth.
posted by Funcrunch at 2:55 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


I guess that depends on how much power you are allowed to yield and the consequences you can skirt. Trump broke a lot of standards he didn't like as President. So do anti-vaxxers. Breaking standards is neither a personality nor necessarily positive.

Trump broke standards he didn't like. That's very different to ignoring standards that you cannot meet anyway. It's not dependent on privilege in that way, you're just as fucked if you try as if you're not, because you cannot meet the impossible standard. It's not like "my body is not the socially approved shape" is on the same level of 'I can choose whether or not to live up to this standard' as "I'm insufficiently polite" or whatever.

If you haven't got a real choice anyway, why go along with the mental anguish?
posted by Dysk at 7:32 PM on May 4


Fair enough, Funcrunch. I didn't mean to put words in your mouth and apologies if it appeared that way.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:31 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


"Because I think if I were a woman, if I had been subjected to that body-policing meat grinder from early childhood, I might be fascinated by the discovery that apparently men also have this one very sensitive button that can be pushed..."

Many of the women I see being very awful about height are also very enmeshed in patriarchal beauty standards for women. Like Frowner said, they're caught up in this whole system of appraisal. And it's a toxic system, so I guess it's not surprising that people stuck in it lash out at others.

Burn it all down.
posted by harriet vane at 8:51 AM on May 6 [5 favorites]


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