A few weeks ago I started messaging this cute Filipino guy on a d*ting a**. He told me that he grew up in “the boonies of California” and I liked him because of his sense of humor, his weirdness, and our perceived sexual compatibility. At one point in our text conversation he said “I’m 5’8”, kinda average, what about you?” I told him my height, 5’6”, and I asked him if he cares about guys’ heights.
“No I don’t,” he texted back, “I thought you would care.”
“I feel like height is pretty superficial tbh,” I wrote. “Like I’ve met a bunch of guys who are tall and also lack emotional availability and/or basic active listening skills.”
“If you have a face to [REDACTED],” I added, “you have a face to [REDACTED].”
“:) Where have you been all my life,” he sent.
Damn, I thought to myself. The bar is truly below the ground and on its way to the earth’s molten core.
This exchange triggered some feelings of sadness and anger within me because I have come across so many men who do care about the height of their potential sexual and romantic partners. On a personal level this preference for tall men feels ridiculous to me because you literally cannot control your height
I mean maybe if you listen to “Lovesick Girls” by BlackPink and “Feel Special” by Twice 10,000 times each you could modify your height, it hasn’t worked for me though. Yet I see this preference for taller men so normalized on dating app profiles and in various articles and tweets, such as this random article I found after Googling “tall men dating.”
When I think through this issue from a logical perspective, I recognize the role of internalized patriarchy and gender roles in this preference for tall men. On an intuitive level, it makes unfortunate sense: people who possess anachronistic notions that men should function as “protectors” and “providers” above all else may view taller men as more able to serve in these traditionally masculine roles. Initial research suggests that some women prefer taller men because dating a taller man helps them to feel “secure” and “delicate,” which also plays into gender roles of women and femme folks as needing of protection by a more masculine partner. Furthermore, some scholars have written about how systemic heightism – the privileging of the tall body and the oppression of the short body, especially for men – reinforces patriarchy, by punishing men for taking up littler space and thereby embodying femininity.
On a personal level, this preference for tall men upsets me because of how it perpetuates patriarchy and oppression. I have dated and had intimate relations with shorter men who impressed me with their confidence and their toppish prowess in, you know. I have also had crushes on and gone out on dates with taller guys who masked their insecurity through their looks, lacked literally any ability to practice genuine active listening, or just did not impress me because of other reasons like a lack of compatible hobbies or lukewarm takes about social justice issues. Though I recognize short men can also perpetuate relational harm or come across as boring, it pains me that short men would face discrimination over their height, which is, again, literally out of their control.
Because I feel feelings strongly, I do my best to practice radical acceptance of heightism’s existence and then take values-aligned action to counteract this form of oppression. I think to myself, okay, what can I control about this unfortunate societal problem and situation I witness in my own life? Some actions come to mind: ensuring that I do not practice heightism in my dating life
though, honestly, every man should gift me three novels by people of color just to interact with me, but, whatever or in other areas of my life such as recruiting research assistants, calling out/in people I converse with if I notice heightism in their/our statements, educating myself about heightism and incorporating it in future courses I teach if relevant, etc. Though heightism’s existence still pains me, I experience some sense of relief knowing what I can do in my own life to begin to address this issue.
In the end, I turned the cute Filipino guy down after our first date, though not because of his tallness or lack thereof. While I found him sweet, genuine, and good in ***, he had a lot of internal issues to address which I sensed would take at least a few more years, and I did not want to act as his makeshift therapist in the meantime. Based on his reaction to my rejection I could tell I broke his heart a bit, which I felt sad about because he had gone through a lot of rough shit in his life. I hope he knows that I still send him all my warmest and most compassionate vibes. I feel glad to have met him, another Asian man who values other characteristics more than someone’s height.
Okay hello it has been awhile! I appreciate my 1.7 readers’ patience – interview season for residency has really begun and it has been taking up a lot of my time. I have received some interviews from top sites in the country so fingers crossed I match somewhere. Anyway, how do you feel about heightism or have you observed it in your own life? What do you feel like we can do to counteract this form of oppression? I hope I can still blog regularly, at least biweekly for now. Sending lots of warmth and strength, until next time. Also I am about to Skype with one of my bffs and will respond to previous post comments right after that yay!