Heightism is defined as a social phenomenon, however it is an entirely human condition, although one could argue that in the animal kingdom, the strong survive, yet smaller creatures, unless fiercely vicious, usually become the first available source of nutrition. In consequence, adding a greater level of consciousness into the equation often equals similar territorial behaviour in male interaction, especially in the proximity of females.
It is a purely social construct, based upon the history and evolution of mankind. Yet, also it is the final taboo of society, hence it is rejected as a policy on a global scale. Truth be told, further research and case studies have revealed detailed insight into the phenomena and its influence on a primal unconscious level. An archetype almost in it’s own right for it’s symbolic nature. Captain America, the short man rebelling against the tall bully, a stereotype in it’s own right for its daily reoccurrence in society. It has been scientifically proven that height affects intellect, the effects of height discrimination often result in a forced adaption or evolution to the environment on a rather deep mental level. The radical altering of height through shoes and inlays or surgery is merely one option, which is taken frequently. For instance, numerous eye witness reports confirmed the abrupt change of behaviour of the external world. Whereas individuals that had almost assaulted the subject beforehand for merely crossing the street. They were being offered alcohol and invitations to social gatherings. The profound realization within the eye witnesses, which were males and females of above 5’9-5’10, of the rapid social change left them in shock and horror, it had completely altered their perception, however only as they were open-minded enough to appreciate the truth behind it that which they had just observed and therefore were able to alter their behaviour towards those of a shorter stature. Socially speaking, the phenomena stems from a deep-rooted mating instinct. Primal, yet symbolic. Height equals strength, it represents a seemingly higher level of protection. The survival of the fittest, as it may, however intelligence hardly comes in the equation. In fact, 92.5 percent of males are taller than their significant other. Conclusively, the average height of a male CEO is 183cm in the United States of America.
How do tall women and short men survive the dating world? A 2008 study of 382 undergraduates in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that both sexes preferred relationships where the woman was shorter than the man. Curiously, the research also showed that women enforced the norm more strongly than men. Twenty-three percent of men but only four percent of women said they were open to a relationship in which the woman was taller.
“Women view taller men as more likely to be physically dominant and potential protectors, which provides a feeling of safety,” Dr. David Frederick, co-author of the study and visiting professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, wrote in an email. “For some women, being with a taller partner makes them feel smaller, and it is not surprising that some women prefer this given the pressure on women to be slender.” Evolutionarily speaking, women may have developed a preference for taller men because of the advantages height provides in male on male competitions, he added.
Back in 2002, ABC News conducted an unscientific experiment to explore how willing women were to date shorter men. They lined up several short men next to tall men, and asked women to choose a date. They gave the short men exceptional résumés, including those for a doctor and millionaire venture capitalist. Despite their glowing qualities, the women always chose the taller men. Some said they would only choose the shortest of the bunch if they learned the taller men were murders or child molesters.
Gender differences in desire for a certain type of mate go beyond height and into other physical arenas. In a 2001 study in Sex Roles, researchers examined 547 personal ads, and classified them in terms of the writer’s preference for a thin partner, a physically fit partner, or no weight preference. They then mailed a figure rating scale to the ad writers and asked them to specify both ideal body size and acceptable body sizes for partners. They found that, despite what preference they expressed, women preferred a physically fit partner, while most men indicated that a number of body sizes would be acceptable.
Approximately 80 percent of height is comprised within the genetic code, yet only 20 percent is influenced by environmental conditions and life experiences. Fear being a factor, which is able to physically inhibit growth, whereas love, particularly parental affection, has been evidenced to promote a higher growth rate in children. In 2003, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of human growth hormone (hGH) for healthy short children in an attempt to make them taller. There was and is nothing medically wrong with these children, as they produce normal levels of growth hormone on their own. They are simply short statured, more often than not due to the genetic influence of their biological parents. Yet, being short is not the concern, the actual difficulties lie in the social bias against short individuals. Is society as a whole willing to treat the victim of a social preconception with unnecessary medical technology that supports and reinforces the before mentioned prejudice? Are we as a people willing to categorize a healthy child and turn him or her into a patient in requirement of special treatment? It has become distinctly evident that modern society has become culturally preoccupied with the idea of being tall and thin at any cost, whilst almost all pharmaceutical corporations have jumped on the bandwagon. An almost institutionalized bias against those of a shorter figure.
It was estimated that the profits would be continually boosted, as there will always be those that fall into the lower height percentiles. The treatment involves subjecting the child to growth hormone injections at an average of six times per week over a period of five to ten years at an typical cost of $20,000 per annum. The treatment may be physically and emotionally harmful, and at most, the child may gain between 1 and 1½, if any additional height is gained at all. To treat the fourteen to twenty thousand children in the United States that suffer with classic growth hormone deficiency, for whom treatment is based on a medical necessity, the cost would be approximately $182 million annually. The FDA approved females with a predicted height of 4’11 and males with a estimated height of 5’3,” eligible for hGH treatment. In sum, the number of potential treatment candidates rises to 1.7 million children at an annual cost of $22 billion. Plainly, there is profit to be gained by exacerbation of height predispositions. Truth be told, raising the awareness towards height discrimination would appear to be a more cost efficient process instead of the application of genetic engineering in order for the individual to suit the expectations of society. In fact, research has documented that an individual of 6’0ft will earn, on average, over $5500 more per year than an individual who is 5’5ft. While discrimination against short people may not be one of the more overtly harmful forms of discrimination, the lack of attention invested in it makes it one of the most deviously and subtly harmful acts of discrimination. In frequency, the alterations in behaviour towards those of a shorter height are not consciously recognized, subconsciously they may be perceived as being “less of a real man” (which appeared to be a recurrent statement during the research into height differences, that and “he just needs to grow some balls” or “He just needs to grow up”) as they are less in physical stature. There are several hypothesis that suggest shortness may be subconsciously related to a lack of power and are habitually perceived as weaker without the conscious realization of that judgement.
Thorough investigations into the nature of hand to hand combat and manners of fighting, however, have revealed styles which most refer to as “short man fighting”, as the techniques are more often than not applied against a combatant that is of a larger stature. Certain ones involve the placing of the foot on the kneecap of the opponent to jump up and target the neck, throat, facial features or head whilst using their own size against them. The unspoken rule is often to move as close to the opponent as possible in order to suffer less counterattacks, yet most commonly the first few strikes of the shorter individual already render the combatant into a less mobile state. For instance, one young male around the age of thirty openly admitted to “biting off chucks of skin” as a last option. Since he was not a physically muscular type of man of 5’7ft, he would often be targeted by three or more individuals that did not necessarily display a non-hostile intent. He would simply jump up into their face and bite onto the first solid piece of skin that was available to him. With one, he removed a part of their cheek. With another, he ripped off the tip of their nose. On both occasions, the fairly taller males collapsed, bleeding and screaming, meanwhile their peers were staring in shock and horror as he would spit the piece of skin out, running away as fast as his legs could carry him. Conclusively, this was only one of many interviews, in which short men confessed the fact that they would often find themselves deliberately targeted for a physical assault by those taller than them. Concurrently, many corroborated this very statement separately, and admitted that unless sufficient force was used in a macabre way, as a form of disincentive, the opponent would more often than not return with a larger amount of individuals to finish the task.
Historically speaking, the famous Napoleon Complex has become widely known as the Short Man Complex, yet it is not as widely spread as the knowledge that 5’8ft up to 5’10ft was considered to be average height around the time of 1812. Nonetheless, the conception implies that if a short individual acts in an assertive or overconfident manner, it must be an attributing factor of overcompensation due to their height. It is also implied that if a taller individual were to act in such an arrogant, superior fashion, it would be socially accepted as “typical” behaviour, consequently if a shorter statured male were to imitate or behave similarly, it is automatically perceived as an act of overreaction. In essence, this creates a treacherous set of double standards, in which certain sorts of behaviour are only deemed appropriate, if specific individuals embody them and not others, since they would be in receipt of an entirely different social feedback. Therefore, height becomes a determining element within social interaction. Due to the widely spread awareness towards other forms of discrimination, such as race, sexual preference, gender and social standing, the enquiry whether one is being prejudiced on any of the before mentioned matters befalls any individual more frequently than in the subject of height discrimination. Truth be told, it is often advertised in the media and on social networking sites, as an ingrained, unconscious factor. Throughout my analysis, I have in fact stumbled upon numerous proclamations that were of a rather negative nature. Over 60 percent had been posted by females, which exclaiming that short men did not have a right to live compared to their tall counterparts. In conclusion, the genuine lack of self-awareness resultant from the unconscious origin of height discrimination is further compounded by the utter lack of societal consideration of it. Currently, there is only one state in the entirety of the United States of America that prohibits Heightism, which is the state of Michigan. Subsequently, after the publication of the legislature, Utah had openly rejected the upcoming concept. Although this was not surprising, since the larger number of percentages of corporations, owned by those of a taller stature, dispute the validity of the legislation and its usage capability.
“How tall we are seems to matter a great deal. There are claims that, for men at least, being taller than average carries advantages in terms of relationships with other workers, earning more and being more likely to be promoted quicker.” stated the Independent, one of the first British newspapers, except for the guardian to tackle the societal height issue. Short men do not fare well in American politics -only five presidents have been shorter than the average. Once, a study distinctively displayed that Americans may be rather aware of height, for in every age category, from the ages of 20 to 84, the subjects claimed to be taller than they actually were. However their reasoning behind overstating their height was seemingly complex. One presumption may be that in Western culture height is highly sought after, being taller is almost equivalent to being stronger, fitter and more able. This phenomena is more commonly observed in males. There is less information on women, yet it is a common factor that taller men prefer shorter females. The taller female counterpart, I have professionally observed, more often than not rejects the shorter males offered to her, yet struggles to acquire a taller partner that possesses similar traits to the short counterpart.
An interesting phenomenon in relation to height has been published in a recent article in The New Yorker. Our height is determined by the growth of the legs and body. That of the legs is most intimately understood. The leg, from femur to toes, grows out from the body of the embryo as a small structure initially approximately a centimetre long, and continues to develop until the end of adolescence, which would be an estimate of 16 years later. “The growth characteristics of the limb are specified when it is still very small. There are special growth plates near the ends of the bones and these determine the growth, and muscles are pulled along by the growing bones. In these growth plates, it is cartilage cells that are growing, which are then replaced by bone.”
In the final stages of growth, for the vast majority, the two legs are increasingly similar in length, yet there was, in all those years, no communication at all between them. Growth appears to be more reliable than originally conceived. This amount of equal growth without interacting became a fact that a distinguished physicist refused to acknowledge. In addition, this is also accurate of both arms. “Growth is affected by hormones and environmental influences such as diet, and these affect both limbs equally.”
The records of the heights of soldiers in Northern Europe dating back over a thousand years were reviewed in the matter. And consequently it was revealed that height was a significant element in AD800, and after 200 years of warfare, in the 17th century, a shorter height became the average. It is a common fact that the infantry prefers individuals of a taller height. Short individuals are more often placed in logistics and intelligence. Charlemagne was over 6ft in height, yet the those troops that stormed the Bastille were 5ft on average. It should be noted that well-bred officers were approximately 3 inches taller. In America, around the 18th century, white colonists were around 5ft 9in, and even slaves were just 1in shorter. Whilst there was a minor decrease in height at the time of the Civil War, the first actual change can be observed in the First World War, since the standard American soldier was 2in taller than the average German soldier. Yet this would be reversed within 50 years, as male Europeans grew taller while Americans did not. Within modern society, Northern Europeans are several inches taller than the American citizen, whose average height is 5ft 9.5in. With a high probability the Dutch could be considered the country with the tallest population. The average male being 6ft 1in. Historically, a growth increase occurred in the 19th century, and appears to pertain to the country’s economic prosperity. The gradual decrease in height in the United States may be resultant of the widening gap between the upper and lower classes, including the effects of the fast-food diets. Research discovered the loss of height by Americans in comparison Northern Europeans takes place in infancy and adolescence, thus inadequate postnatal care and faulty eating habits became the causal factor. Although it has been a widely tested outcomes that individuals regularly feasting on Junk food are overall shorter and weightier. The ingredients of most fast food being unclear due to countless lawsuits, the effects may not be effectively measurable. For instance, the Tesco’s beef burger scandal, revealing that the beef burger contained less cow than expected, but more horse. In fact, approximately 75% horse meat. Although one may never be entirely certain of the full contents of “ready meals” and so forth, the healthier options appear to be fresh, organic food without added preservatives etc.
In my professional opinion, however, I am of the view that more than 80% of height is predetermined by genetics, and that attempting to prompt further growth, through hypnotherapy, medication or diet, may only provide an inch or two at most During my own research in the subject, I segregated two groups, those with shorter parents and those with taller parents. All males and females were in between 15-17 years of age. For a two week period, the “short” group would be fed healthily with organic foods without any snack or junk foods. The “tall” group would be fed on junk food only. Surprisingly, within that week, most males and half of the females that feasted on junk food grew approximately 0.5-1.5 inches regardless. With about 15%, there’s seemed to be very little change. Whereas the other group, referring to the shorter statured individuals, grew 0.5-1.0 inches, if at all. 65%, if not 75-80%, of them displayed little alterations in height. Afterwards, the diets were swapped, and the difference eventually was minimal. There were very few males that were affected by the junk food diet in the means of height and growth.
Nonetheless, height discrimination is not merely a phenomenon observed in the male gender, during the surveys conducted, it was noted that a large percentage of short woman do not necessarily feel taken seriously by their tall counterparts and the majority of tall men. It was also observed that there was a distinct lack of promotions in the before mentioned category of females. Within the modelling and film industry woman underneath 5’7-5’9ft are increasingly rare, truth be told, the actual requirement is 6’0ft and up. In fact, Halley Berry had continually proclaimed that she was being stereotyped into particular film roles, until she was given the part of “Storm” in the X-Men movie series. It should be noted that the character Storm was in actuality a 6’6ft African tribal princess. However, in the dating world, it is quite commonly known that females are more likely to select the taller individual due to societies image of the ideal woman, she appears mostly slender and short as a matter of fact. Tall woman are more likely to be successful in business, yet short ones are more likely to be married. Overall, it was observed that most females generally only reach to the males shoulders and that equally tall couples or equally short pairs have become more of a rarity.
In conclusion, there definitely appears to be a large unspoken issue in regards to height within modern and ancient society, whether it may be an unconscious urge or simple preferences in mating, the phenomena of height discrimination has evidently spread through the core. Although there are females that prefer shorter men or males of equal height, they seem to be few and far in between, yet they are still present. Throughout gaining an understanding of the concept, countless men involved in the survey (which were below the height of 5’8ft) described exceedingly negative partnership experiences that undoubtedly altered their perception of females. Often those interviewed that were engaged in a permanent or long-term partnership stated that their current relationship was the only one, which was not influenced by height. Numerous descriptions of affairs with taller individuals generally followed or being left for a taller male. Nonetheless, the influence of height on a behavioural level is clearly evident in daily life and frequently short individuals of either gender are not necessarily supported through the process of accepting their bodies as they are. Truthfully, accounts of self-mutilation from a young are, even childhood, due to the reinforcement of negative beliefs by parental figures or peers rather common. In my professional opinion, the effects of alterations in height and their behavioural responses require further academic attention in order to adequately minimize the psychological harm obtained by the individual. Currently, the problem is being mostly suppressed by those that are affected by it. It is in the least bit surprising that all industries would undergo a drastic shift, if heightism were to become known as a more widely spread phenomena or true fact. Height discrimination is merely another form of sexism, another form of racism…It is one of the last “–isms” to be tackles and to become aware of. Most tall individuals laugh the matter of and simply change the subject whilst others rigidly deny its existence, yet all the evidence collected strongly supports the theories. In my personal view, it is merely one of the last unchecked discriminations that continues due to the fact that the system is predestined for it to continue. Evidently, the richer half of society is the taller one, therefore the genetic predisposition to birth equally tall children is increasingly more likely, which then perpetuates the cycle further.
Due to the limited research and availability of resources, all evidence has been assimilated from personal research, social forums or few newspaper articles cited above.