Or: A Most Unfortunate Companion to Redheadedness

The Short Person is immediately recognizable in a crowd by virtue of not being as tall as those others in the group. This is the first indication of shortness, and more often than not will aid you in identifying which among your circle is the Short One.

There will be a Short One.

Setting the Terms

Of course, height works on a sliding scale, and an operational definition is wanted for further understanding of the condition. There are two main kinds of shortness:

  1. Empirical: You are below, or well below, the average height in your country.

  2. Relative: You are below, or well below, the height of the people with whom you associate.

Your status as an Empirically Short Person is unchangeable; it is ignorable only if you surround yourself with people of lesser height, and never venture into situations where taller people may be present.

If you are Relatively Short, you may still be Empirically Tall, and have a great deal less to worry about in life. If you are both Relatively and Empirically Short, you have chosen your friends poorly, and should seek new companions immediately if you wish to change your status to Relatively Tall.

You will never be Empirically Tall, barring catastrophic alteration of the average height.

Attempts to personally contribute to that alteration are strongly discouraged by state and federal authorities.

A Change of Time or Place

The average heights of Men and Women have changed over time and vary by race (if such a thing exists--consult your local scientist) and geographic location. The average height of the African male is above that of the Asian, and the average height of the modern European is above that of the Medieval. Some examples:

So, if Marty McFly (5'4") had gone back to 1555 instead of 1955, someone might finally have asked him how the weather was up there. As it stands--when he stands--he's short.

So Many Names

There's no shortage of diminutives for people of lesser than average stature. Clearly, wit and height are not directly related.

And once, some behemoth came up to me, patted me on the head, and in a low, dumb voice said, 'perch.'

You may also be:

Function Follows Form

Short people have had an interesting place in history, not much of it grand.

Sometimes, a lack of height gives us a highly undesirable usefulness. We drew the pick of dangerous military duties:

And we put forth at least two tyrants of great but little thought of renown:

Both set on largely on World Domination, both achieving a good measure of it, and both still remembered as being short. How much their height had to do with their career choices is purely a matter of speculation.

Height Restrictions

More people than not wish to be tall, or in any case, taller than they are. I would settle for the inch and half needed to get me up to average. The fact of being less is a thing reflected in ways unthought of until known. I must continue with greater respect to the male experience; it is the one I know, and the only one I'm qualified to write. Some of these may apply to both sexes.

Not all will agree with the following.


Despite all the room that would be left if they used us, there still isn't much room in professional athleticism for the short. Basketball, American football, soccer, baseball, volleyball--all these are dominated by great big large types that can either crush other humans or cover large spaces quickly.

We can play tennis and fence, but 'reach' is an unignorable and advantageous factor in both, and who follows fencing nowadays anway?

There is the possibility of boxing within our class, but I haven't seen any Pay-per-view advertisements or bars promising to show the latest, greatest featherweight bout.

The effect of shortness on my athleticism, perhaps as a function of the survival instinct, is an ability to run fast and rapidly change direction.


The Goliaths among you have your Big and Tall Stores. Short people have a scant selection of ill- fitting clothes at one end of the rack.

Moreover, there is the additional curse of short men sometimes looking slightly ridiculous in formal wear. Tom Cruise may look excellent in his tuxedo on the screen, but you might snicker if you saw him in it on the street.

The phenomenon remains largely unexplained, but height and cute seem to be inversely proportional, and few men wearing tuxedoes want to be thought of as 'cute'. The little groom on the wedding cake is cute. We are not to be confused.

Interheight Couples

Gentlemen, if you're on the wrong side of this one, you will have problems. There are certain things short men cannot easily do with taller women while maintaining traditional ideas of masculinity. They include, but are not limited to:

Women considering dating a short man should also take into account that any high-heeled shoes become unwearable, and that you will appear comical to some when walking in public.

Short men are encouraged to stifle the overcompensatory desire to beat the crap out of at least one tall man in front of her, as it seldom works and is often counterproductive.

Looking Up

There are some benefits to being short, or shorter, than average:

  • We hit our heads less

  • High ceilings seem even higher

  • No one bothers us to get things off top shelves (not that we can use them ourselves) or change light bulbs

  • Our natural eye-line is often right where we'd be looking anyway

  • No one resents us because of our height

  • By adulthood, most of us can go on all the rides

  • Apparently, we do not fall as hard.

In Short Sum:

The condition of being short has its challenges, and if you have the option to be anything else, I would take it.

That is not to say that we should not proud of who we are. But it's no good drawing ourselves up to our full heights, because they just don't amount to much.

Instead, we should be proud, and in our tiny enclaves and secret small places the tall folk don't know about, continue to plot vengeance.

Big Thanks to:

I should perhaps add that I am 5'7". Not particularly short, but I grew up in the Midwest, amongst giants.