Why are Short People Discriminated Against?

Alright, tall people. I've had enough! I am a proud 5'1" woman and I am fully aware I will not grow any more! In fact, I am from a long line of shorties-- my grandpa is 5'4", my dad is 5'3", and my mom is 5'2". Our roots in Altamura, Italy, explain our pint sized statures. Nearly every person in Altamura is below average height. The doorways are shorter, the pants are hemmed, and the sinks are lower. We, as a community, are just a vertically challenged group. But who cares? Right? Wrong. My entire life I have been the little one, the shawdy, the "pocket person." (My mom has even joked for years that I have to marry a man over 5'9" or else we may turn into a pygmy family.) My dad, who is definitely short and squat, is an Army colonel with an intimidating personality, and as you can imagine, he has been given the nicknames Napoleon and Yoda. Luckily for my mom, she is the lucky height for a woman-- 5'2"-- where she can escape being called pipsqueak but is still petite. As long as I can remember, my family has been discriminated against in public. Now, this isn't strong discrimination or anything particularly offensive, just annoying. For example, every single solitary time we go out to dinner, no matter how empty the restaurant may be, we ALWAYS get put at the table right next to the kitchen. If any of you have had the pleasure of sitting at this treasured location, you know it is the loudest, smelliest, busiest place in the restaurant. While I doubt that the average height hosts are directly discriminating against us, its consistent and, well, the facts don't lie. I have also experienced discrimination in my study of vocal performance. Many directors, auditioners, and fellow performers vastly underestimate my abilities because of my size. They don't expect any big sound out of the little girl. Professionally, as well, shorter performers will not get as many roles in operas and chamber music performances because they do not fulfill the desired height to height ratio of the performers.  

If you are not buying into my stories of woe, I found several articles, including one from CBS News by Lloyd de Vries entitled "The Trouble With Tall People."  In this piece, de Vries notes that the average height of a man in the United States is 5'9" and of a woman is 5'4". Any height below these heights, he explains, "comes up short." Ha. Ha. Ha. Anyway, according to the article, a recent University of North Carolina study shows that short people are being discriminated against financially. According to statistics, "the taller you are, the more money you make. Each inch is worth about $789 more per year." Tall people, on average, earn several thousand dollars more each year than an equally qualified, same gender, shorter person. The study also finds that tall people also "get better job evaluations and quicker raises." So, I ask, why the injustice?

Well, we like tall people better. In an evolutionary sense, we used to need size for survival. Larger people were better protectors and more valuable. Through history, taller men have been better hunters and have reproduced more than shorter, smaller men. This trend continued through history until about WWI when "Americans stopped growing taller." Ever since, the rest of the world has continued as we have stayed the same. Why? Because of our diets and exercise habits. "We are growing wider, not taller." So HA! Maybe one day, we will judge based on our width and not our height? What do you think?



Reading this post made me a little sad. I'm 5'1 and my height has always been an annoying part of my life. I especially hate when people say "hey you're short" as if I'm not aware. I'm not suprised statistcally taller people make more money. It's the same way more aggressive personalities make more money than their soft spoken counterparts. I mean as unfortunate as that is for vertically challenged individuals like myself, who wants to look up to their boss literally? Sad but true reality.

Rachel I too come from a line of short people. My mother is five foot and shrinking, as most Italian women do. Being on the shorter end of the spectrum myself, I find job discrimination intolerable just because of a person's height. Great blog!

Rachel, like you, I am also 5'1! I used to find my height as an annoying factor in my life but later on decided to embrace my height and the fact that I was certainly not going to grow any taller. I can see how taller people may demand more respect and therefore make more money than shorter people. After all, it is pretty hard to intimidate someone who is looking down on you. Very nice blog!

I am 5'2, but apparently people find it more " acceptable " because I'm Asian ( even though 5'2 is considered short too in Asian countries. )

I've never noticed job discrimination regarding height before; after reading your blog, I find it very sad and intolerable. People should recognize that one's height does not make him / her less skilled, etc.

To all you short people:

I am very tall - so I do not know exactly how you feel being short, but please be aware much of the comments can go both ways. I always hear: "wow, your tall!" which can get annoying (as you may know).

While I will not comment about the financial differences, but just trying to let you short people know that tall people dont hog all the benefits and there are downfalls there too :)

I'm sorry to hear that you are discriminated against because of your height. I myself am tall for a girl, measuring up at 5'9, and while I've grown to embrace my height, it wasn't always easy. I always get asked from people "why are you so tall" so I get how that can get annoying. Shopping, especially for pants or jeans are killer, since most pant legs come up short on me. I also hate how I'm always sent to the back to stand with the guys in pictures. Another annoying thing is buying heels. While I don't care anymore about being tall in heels, finding a cute pair of heels that aren't 5 inches are hard to find. I used to wish I was short or at least average height but now I see I that there cons on both sides.

When I was younger my grandfather read me a Frank Lloyd Wright quote, "anyone over 5'8" was wasted material." Now this comment is definitely not meant to offend anyone taller than 5'8, but hopefully it shows that anyone can say something offensive about any height and any size.

I am actually 5' and I have been asked on multiple occasions: whats it like to see the world from down there? Since I am used to such comments, I definitely embrace my small stature and don't plan on letting it inhibit my career ambitions in any way!

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