Dear Anon-O-Box: A Little Short To Be A Stormtrooper

Dear Anon-O-Box,

I see many couples and notice a common trend, the guy is taller than the girl. Unfortunately, I am a few inches below average height, thus shorter than most women.

While I have no problem with dating someone taller than me, they can wear heels or stilts whatever, it’s actually the reverse problem. Yes, I was actually told by a girl who was 5 inches taller than me, that I was courting she couldn’t date me because of my height.

Women shouldn’t come with a “You Must Be This Tall To Ride” sign. Looking at profiles is worse. When girls that are 4’11″ but their desired height for a mate is Yao Ming. Please, is their anyone that is willing to prove Randy Newman wrong?

Napoleon Seeking Josephine

e answers:

Dear Napoleon,

I hate to be the one to break the bad news, but it’s a deep-seated, nearly unconscious preference that manifests itself when we choose our mates.  But let’s look at the reason women often use when describing their preference for taller men. It’s the same for nearly all of them…

“I just don’t feel comfortable with a shorter guy.”

What the heck does comfortable mean? If you ask a woman to be honest and go further into it, she’ll often admit a few different things:

  • She often wears heels and needs a guy to be taller than she is while wearing her favorite (or tallest) pair.  This is why you’ll see a girl who is 5’4″ looking for a guy who is 5″10″ – she’s only 5’4″ in bare feet. In her heels, she’s 5’6″ or even 5’7.”
  • She “feels safe” being on the arm of a taller guy. There are plenty of studies (I’ll write about in a bit) that have proven that people consider taller men to be more masculine and better leaders/providers than shorter men.
  • She doesn’t like to feel like she’s bigger than her mate. This is all about self-esteem.  So many women have self-esteem issues. So many women feel fat (even if they’re not).  If a woman has those kind of feelings about herself, no amount of love and affection and positive talk from you can make her feel feminine and beautiful if you’re smaller than her. Sad, but true.

That’s the fluff evidence. Let’s move into the crunch, shall we?

In the article “Why Do Women All Seem To Want Taller Men?“, the following research is quoted:

…researchers found that of the 720 couples in their study, only one was comprised of a taller woman and a shorter man (Gillis & Avis, 1980). This was a far smaller percentage than expected by chance, showing that there is some selective preference for taller men.

Culture also plays a big part in what we like and what is valued in society. Women may learn to value men who are rewarded in society. For example, taller men may be seen as more powerful and attractive, so women who are with taller men benefit by attaining a higher social status. In addition, if height signals physical dominance, it is likely that taller men make women feel smaller, protected, and perhaps more “feminine” as well. In line with this idea, research has found that women with more “traditional” gender role expectations were less willing to date shorter men (Salska, et al., 2008).

Malcolm Gladwell writes about society’s preference for tall men in his book Blink.  You can read the full excerpt on his blog, but here are the juicy bits:

I polled about half of the companies on the Fortune 500 list–the largest corporations in the United States–asking each company questions about its CEO. In my sample, I found that on average CEOs were just a shade under six feet. Given that the average American male is 5’9″ that means that CEOs, as a group, have about three inches on the rest of their sex. But this statistic actually understates matters. In the U.S. population, about 14.5 percent of all men are six feet or over. Among CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, that number is 58 percent. Even more strikingly, in the general American population, 3.9 percent of adult men are 6’2″ or taller. Among my CEO sample, 30 percent were 6’2″ or taller.

…and if that’s not bad enough…

Not long ago, researchers went back and analyzed the data from four large research studies, that had followed thousands of people from birth to adulthood, and calculated that when corrected for variables like age and gender and weight, an inch of height is worth $789 a year in salary. That means that a person who is six feet tall, but who is otherwise identical to someone who is five foot five, will make on average $5,525 more per year.

So it’s sort of bad news, eh?

Not really.  Think of it this way: there wouldn’t be short(er) people today if short people weren’t reproducing.  There are women out there who like guys of your height; it’s just a matter of finding them.

An interesting note, OkCupid had a long, data-driven article about how older (30+) women have a more difficult time in online dating because men their age spend just as much time messaging them as they do messaging 18-19 year olds. Somewhere in these two sets of data I see an obvious solution (that will of course never happen because that’s how life works) – short(er) guys should start messaging all the old(er) women!  Problem solved!  (Okay, maybe not… but maybe yes?)

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