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The disadvantages of being a short man
Posted: Posted Friday by Upset College Man
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I am five foot five. When I dust off my nice boots with the cowboy heels, I manage five foot seven. It’s nowhere near towering but at least it’s approaching the neighbourhood of “average”. Still, at 16 years old, and with the sun now well and truly set on the possibility of a surprise growth spurt, I must face the crippling reality: I am a short man.

I am also slight of build with almost no natural capacity, it seems, of obtaining muscles. I’ve been described as a “tempest of power” – a euphemism, I suppose, for someone with a big personality but a tiny body. If you squint I could disappear from view entirely, which is great should I ever follow through on my childhood intent of becoming a private investigator stalking adulterers from my car. But it’s a hindrance for almost anything else.

The sort of discrimination I face is almost negligible relative to that of the truly and historically oppressed. But it is insidious and ongoing, and whether mostly psychosomatic or not, makes me feel confined in what I can achieve.

Television as a career seems generally off-limits, including associated professions that involve going on TV a lot. My latent desire to go into electoral politics might have to suffice with a lifetime in factional backrooms. Newspapers remain a great hideaway for the vertically-challenged, should they survive the decade, and I suppose radio, which has sheltered me from harm thus far as a part time job, remains a viable option.

But size does matter in all those situations – and there are many in life – where we evaluate someone at face value. Job interviews, my current nemesis, are a case in point. How could any employer trust the child-like figure appearing before them? Could this diminutive person publicly represent a company or a brand? Big guys command attention, small guys disappear.

So it is gently amusing to read people like Kahla Preston write about the inconveniences of being tall, which include discomfort on planes and occasionally being asked about basketball.

Apparently it can also be difficult to hear friends in a crowded bar, necessitating some sort of ungainly stooping action, or, I suppose, asking them to project to the nosebleed section.

Try getting a drink at a bar when you’re a 5’5 man. Even at average height, to achieve eye contact with an Oxford bartender you generally need to have either strolled off the catwalk or rolled off the rugby field. You can waive around £100 notes as much as you like, but when your forehead barely reaches the tip jar, you’ve got a snowflake’s chance in hell of service. Which is an ironic problem given the elevated need to seek solace in alcohol.

There are all sorts of fashion tips out there for smaller men: vertical stripes, matching colours, tall pointy hats. Most clothes in this Country appear to be proportioned for the Big Friendly Giant or the morbidly obese, which is an eternal struggle. Suits are by far the worst, and can leave you looking like a year 9 pupil at his School disco draped in a 70’s pinstripe hand-me-down from dad. I’ve learned the best bet is to play the lottery and just import them from Japan or Korea, where I should probably just move.

Other options include forming a disco tribute act, providing an excuse to swan around in 10-inch platform shoes and flares, and maybe one of those ridiculous two-foot floral headdresses Elton John used to get around in. For a whole host of spurious and problematic reasons, society deemed it was appropriate – even desirable – for women to artificially increase their height with footwear, but not for men. And I, for one, am eternally jealous.

I’m not asking for sympathy, or patronage, or a PIP subsidy from the Government, or anything. Apparently you can get leg-lengthening surgery in Thailand, but it involves breaking your bones and being in a wheelchair for a year. In darker moments I’ve considered it, but the risk of coming back mutilated and the humiliating vanity of the whole exercise scare me too much.

No, I don’t want any of that. All I really want is to be taken seriously, regardless of stature or biceps. And for you to take a step back when you’re facing me, so that you don’t tower over me and consume what precious little personal space I command. Oh, and maybe one of those footstools – a la former French president Nikolas Sarkozy – hidden behind every podium. Because I’m not going to vacate the stage.

Do any of you know how it feels to be a short man?

There are 22 Replies
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I am 5'5. My Height has never been much of an issue. My Weight on the other hand is something Ive always struggled with. Ive lost 50lbs and Im moving 7 miles a day atleast. *hides 10 Piece chicken nugget meal and 2 mcchicken wrappers*

In Guatemala I was a goddam giant believe it or not. The average height for men is about 5'2 and for women its 5'0. I even had a colleague exclaim to me that I was tall. Interesting times.

Posted Friday by S.O.H.
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S.O.H.
 

Yeah guatemalans are tiny -- I worked with some at one of my previous jobs and some of them came up to my waist, no joke.

Before I shot up to my current height, I was always one of the smallest kids in the class. Got picked on a lot. So yeah I've kind of seen it from both perspectives and sympathize.

I am also slight of build with almost no natural capacity, it seems, of obtaining muscles.


That one is entirely within your control fortunately. Push your limits, break your muscles a bunch of times and you can get to whatever body type you want.

Also being tall has a ton of disadvantages, which include:

  • Doing a lot of ducking. I guess not a big deal, but you're doing it all the goddamn time because if you're not, you hit your head frequently.

  • Getting in and out of cars is an exercise in madness, especially sports cars.

  • Nothing is built for tall people. You're constantly hunching down (which fucks up your back over time) or bending at the knees if you want to do any kind of work at all. Crowded movie theaters are a nightmare. Tables and chairs have all kinds of issues. Driving is similarly awkward, though being a passenger is usually worse. As a tall person you're constantly contorting at weird angles and/or scrunching up your limbs.

  • No matter how strong you are, you turn into a noodle when your arms are outstretched. It's just part of the physics. Similarly your center of gravity is weird, so things like pushups are significantly harder than they should be.

  • Being anything other than obese makes you look like you're starving to death.

  • People have some kind of inherent fear around you. If you get even slightly angry they go fight-or-flight immediately and completely lose their marbles.

  • People take you too seriously. Trust me, you don't want power over other people -- you think you do but it's really not all it's cracked up to be. It's mostly a lot of stress and drama.

  • Posted Friday by Xhin
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    Xhin
     

    There's something really gross about people who try to convince short men that no, it's really not that bad! We have all kinds of evidence that it is a disadvantage, much worse than sometimes having to duck or people taking you "too seriously" (????). As the OP said, it's not severe oppression or anything, but I always feel bad for short dudes that have to listen to this garbage. It's like when attractive or rich people complain. Again, all kinds of evidence that the attractive and rich have it much better off, but you expect me to listen to the horrors of people wanting to spend time with you. Nothing is perfect, there's downsides to everything, but I don't think someone who is at a natural disadvantage needs to be reminded of these obvious facts.

    At the very least, just let a dude vent sometimes.

    Posted Friday by The Bandit
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    There's something really gross about people who try to convince short men that no, it's really not that bad! We have all kinds of evidence that it is a disadvantage, much worse than sometimes having to duck or people taking you "too seriously" (????)

    I'm gonna preface this so I hopefully don't come off as much of an ass in trying to make a point by saying I can sympathize with them and I don't think they're all acting like some of what I'm saying at all and it may well not even be a lot but in my experience the people who are like constantly prone to droning on about it and acting like it ruined their entire lives well let's just say sometimes if you think tnu is hostile and whiny you haven't seen anything (same with bald men and similar).

    There's a point where really all you can say is you have to take your lot in life and find a way to make it work and often they mistake it for just saying "your problems don't matter lol". At some point all you can do is try to get them out of the deep dark pit of despair they threw themselves into and at that point refuse to even try to get out of. I mean I get insecurity can be a huge driving factor but god does it make some people into hyper assholes. Not gonna make a giant rant about details but they can definitely be assholes.

    I mean I get it but it's also just the fact that they reject any and all optimism or hope a lot of times. Then they can lash out when you get tired of constantly hearing it and try to give a new outlook so they can actually do something with their life maybe. Point is, while it can be condescending I don't think it's as with ill intent as you think it is. Best people can offer sometimes. Plus Xhin does have some good points about tall people if you're referencing that.

    I'm not saying this is a general rule at all, but I think this is the problem a bit often. And I've been no saint myself at all times about other insecurities. Don't mistake me for someone who has got it all together and I'm just looking down on them because that isn't the case AT ALL.

    Edited Friday by Grey Echelon
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    Television as a career seems generally off-limits,

    I mean you may be able to do similar. cr1tikal/penguinz0 is really close to your height apparently and he gets away with being a rather popular and well liked youtuber and and apparently has a pretty decent life. Not saying it'd be that easy for you of course but still possible.

    Edited Friday by Grey Echelon
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    Yeah, I totally agree. There's some people who treat it like it's the end of the world, and it isn't. And then there's some people who aren't even short and think they're disadvantaged. I have a 5'10 friend that always goes on about how being a manlet is the worst thing. Those stupid 5'11-6'0 comparison memes have fucked up a lot of dude's confidence.

    (Somewhat related to those memes: I don't really know much about basketball but was watching The Last Dance, and I was thinking, "damn Steve Kerr is so short compared to the other guys, he's gotta be like 5'11 right?" Nope, 6 fucking 3 and the rest of the team just towers over him. Madness.)

    But the reason I went off a bit is because I felt like the OP went out of his way to ensure he wasn't coming across like a whiny baby or over exaggerating the problem. I didn't detect any of the things you're describing in the OP. Like I said, he probably just felt like venting, and I think he did so in a healthy and reasonable way.

    That said, I was probably an unfair dick. I have no issue with what SOH said at all, he's totally justified in offering his experience, especially in the way he did, saying it's never been an issue for him and not saying it isn't an issue at all. And while I do find Xhin's response annoying, he wasn't really "trying to convince short men that it's really not that bad" as I implied.

    Posted Friday by The Bandit
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    I am also slight of build with almost no natural capacity, it seems, of obtaining muscles.


    That's not how that works.

    In the wise words of /fit/, "SS+GOMAD". In other words, do Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength program and drink a gallon of milk a day.

    WHATEVER IT TAKES, BABY.

    Posted Friday by Forgotten Arrow
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    That said, I was probably an unfair dick. I have no issue with what SOH said at all, he's totally justified in offering his experience, especially in the way he did, saying it's never been an issue for him and not saying it isn't an issue at all

    don't get me wrong if I could grow an extra inch or 5 I wouldn't say no. But I can't. I only have control over my weight and level of fitness. My height has only affected me in a couple of key areas that the OP touched upon. Clothing and dating.

    well to be honest I'm not sure if it was my height or weight that affected those areas. In regards to clothing its tough finding pants that fit but not impossible. I found it easier now as you can get shorter length sizes on Amazon. What was hard at brick and mortar stores was finding pant sizes when I was at my biggest.

    dam near impossible finding a pair of 42x28 jeans. Now I can find a pair of 36x28 jeans with ease. (Well not the Rona fucked that up atm) but the internet is one hell of a thing. But if you are a short stocky man looking for a suit or a pair of perfectly fitting dress pants..forget about it.


    Dating

    I think you kinda touched upon this. With the 5'10-6'0 memes. Would being an extra inch or 5 make my dating life a lot easier? Yes but actually no. An extra 5 inches can't fix ugly.

    I joke. But again I believe a combination of my weight and height affected this area. Visually and physically there is a huge difference between some one who is 5'5 and 250lbs (of fat) compared to some one who is 5'10+ and 250lbs. (Of fat) This did a lot more harm than good on my knees and dating life.

    I was only short and fit for a period of 2 years before I shacked up with a girlfriend and started to balloon up. But in that time women were interested in me. I have a long ways to go before I hit my target weight but I've been noticing a lot more looks and smiles from the opposite sex now that I'm down 50lbs. Call me crazy but I'll let the OP know how it goes as I get closer to my target weight.

    I do agree that the 5'10 short meme is fucked up. It would affect my confidence too but I realized a long time ago that I would never be content let alone happy with a superficial woman who fixates on height. (Or money or other material things)

    a part of me strongly feels that if this meme never existed men would fixate on other things that they have no control over to justify why they can't get any dates. Everyone is self conscious that's normal. But guys like this take it up to a whole other level. I really think they could have it all and still not be happy.

    as for the acting/entertainment thing one of the most post popular action stars Tom Cruise is short. He is 5'7 .

    Edited Friday by S.o.h.
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    Those stupid 5'11-6'0 comparison memes have fucked up a lot of dude's confidence.

    True. I'm 5'11.5" and some people think I'd have more worth if I just lied and said I was 6' even. Personally I really don't care about their shit for being shorter and I wish people who assessed someone's worth by height would just shut up. Of the two women I dated one is 5'2" and the other is like 4'11". I really don't care about their heights and would've dated them even if they were 6'5" or whatever.

    Posted Friday by Fox Forever
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    There's something really gross about people who try to convince short men that no, it's really not that bad! We have all kinds of evidence that it is a disadvantage, much worse than sometimes having to duck or people taking you "too seriously" (????). As the OP said, it's not severe oppression or anything, but I always feel bad for short dudes that have to listen to this garbage. It's like when attractive or rich people complain. Again, all kinds of evidence that the attractive and rich have it much better off, but you expect me to listen to the horrors of people wanting to spend time with you. Nothing is perfect, there's downsides to everything, but I don't think someone who is at a natural disadvantage needs to be reminded of these obvious facts.


    Way to completely miss my point. I never said being short doesn't suck, I said I emphasized with people who are that way. My point was that being tall has its own set of disadvantages that is apparently hard to explain correctly. The "nothing is designed for short people" is the same exact problem between short and tall people. There are social consequences to both. And as far as clothing goes, the best strategy for me seems to be importing things from europe -- anything else is either too short or way way too big.

    The other stuff I'm more used to but the physical stuff, oh my god you really can't understand the issues there. Imagine you're constantly compacting yourself to fit or bending at weird angles to get things done. My neck is still pretty much permanently fucked up from a job I had two years ago due to this effect. I've had several joint injuries over the years for similar reasons. And you're really "clumsy" or something too -- like your limbs aren't where you think they are so you're constantly smashing them against stuff -- broken toes, hand scars, and lots of head pain.


    Posted Friday by Xhin
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