How Does it Feel Like Being Short? Anecdotal & Personal Accounts

Surgery | Written by Joshua Leaf | Updated on January 28, 2022

Many people expect short people to be miserable, but they don’t stop to ask, “How does it feel like being short?” Though all short people will have differing opinions about their height, it wouldn’t be fair to generalize and proclaim that everyone wants to be taller.

Instead, let’s make an effort to step into a short person’s shoes and learn about some things that seem to affect most of them.

Pros

There are several benefits to having a more compact body – it’s easier to love and fit into places, and those with short stature tend to have better balance than taller people! Imagine how it’d feel to be taller; a mere 2-4 inches would feel like you’re on stilts!

Nonetheless, some specific pros of being short include…

Transportation is More Comfortable

Long journeys are rarely comfortable, but oftentimes they’re comfier for people of shorter stature.

Since short people tend to have short legs, they don’t need much legroom, lacking in most aircraft. So, they can sit comfortably in even economy seats for a much longer time than tall people, who can’t stretch out their legs for hours.

In cars, especially smaller models, short people are much more comfortable on long road trips. Besides, their heads don’t bump against the roof of the vehicle in any case.

Advantages in Some Sports

Short weightlifters have a definite advantage over taller ones. If a 5’4″ weightlifter squats the same weight as a 6′ one, the shorter man will have a shorter distance to cover from the hips to the knees, which means he’ll do less work than his taller counterpart.

At the same weight, a survey of 1,067 men found that a short guy can squat over 32 pounds more than a tall guy.[1] They also build muscle more quickly and look more filled out than taller lifters at the same weight.

In horse riding and motorcycle racing, too, short people have an edge since they’re lighter and face less wind resistance due to their smaller size, making them go faster.[2] They also have a lower center of gravity, resulting in better balance for sports like gymnastics and cricket.[3]

Easier to Fit Into Most Things

When a short person can’t find clothes that fit, they can simply buy pants or shirts slightly too big, and have it tailored to fit. This is because it’s far easier for tailors to remove fabric for those with shorter stature.

On the other hand, if a taller person wants a smaller piece of clothing tailored the tailor has to find matching fabric (you’d be surprised how difficult this can be) and then create new seams entirely.

Plus, some short people can find clothes in the kids’ section too, which some people may see as an advantage because kids’ clothes are generally cheaper.

Short people can also crawl into compact spaces much more quickly, making it easy to retrieve wires or fallen objects and benefiting them in certain professions like IT.

Cons

Though short height might be convenient, it comes with a greater risk of social stigma. Some cons of how it feels to be short statured include…

Short Guy Stigmas

Short men might be seen as less masculine and dominant,[4] which can cut down any man’s self-esteem. They’re also less likely to succeed at work or get into positions of power since most people don’t think they command respect as naturally as tall people.[5]

Most taller men will also find short men less intimidating and interpret their temper as compensating for their height, even when justified. People perceiving short men as more aggressive is known as the Napoleon Complex, but there isn’t definitive proof that it even exists.

Many people also use terms created to promote body positivity, like “short king”, in a demeaning way, pulling short men down even when they attempt to rise above their height.

Social Implications

Most women prefer men to be much taller than them.[6] This selectiveness is clear to see on social media and dating apps, where heightism and height discrimination is prevalent, and many women state they want a man who’s at least 6 feet.

Short people also tend to earn less than their taller counterparts.[7] They’re more likely to get interrupted at meetings, disregarded during presentations, and generally looked down upon in corporate and social gatherings. Many people might see them as children, viewing them as less capable than they are.

Short men are also very likely to be victims of harsh banter by their fellow men. Though friends may do it in a good-natured and humorous way, it can escalate to bullying depending on the delivery and reception.

Difficulty Reaching Things

Short people often can’t reach the top shelves in most supermarkets or cupboards affixed high above a kitchen counter.

It can be embarrassing for people to ask for help in these situations, so they often get footstools to reach things at home. Using these can make them feel like children just for being short, though, so it can be a lose-lose situation if their height is already bothersome.

Hard to See at Concerts

Ending up behind a much taller person at a show or concert is a legitimate concern many short people face. There are only a few places where one can ask people to move or swap seats, so they often have to suffer seeing half or none of the stage.

Many short people have to spend more on VIP seating to ensure an enjoyable concert experience, making going to concerts a stressful experience.

Take Longer to Reach Places

When walking, a short person will cover the same distance in more time than a taller person due to the difference in leg length. This difference in strides means that the shorter person might tire themselves out before a taller individual.

So is Being Short All That Bad?

Being or feeling short is certainly not the end of the world – other people might judge you, but it’s how you perceive it and respond that matters.

Height is just another thing people judge others and is no different from weight or wealth, and people can make up for it in other areas. For example, if a man is funny or has a good personality, many women may overlook his height. While some people may have dating prerequisites surrounding height or other physical attributes, love isn’t a feeling people have much choice over and those prerequisites are oftentimes just preferences.

Improving one’s intelligence, career, and physique can make for a more confident man, despite a shorter stature. For those severely dissatisfied with their height, leg lengthening surgery exists, but you should speak to your doctor before taking any drastic steps.

References

[1] Cebulla, B. M. (2014, June 19). Being tall negatively affects ability to max back squat. Cebul.la. https://www.cebul.la/being-tall-height-negatively-affects-ability-to-one-rep-max-backsquat-sort-of/ 

[2] Johnston, A. (2017, May 6). How Much Do The Kentucky Derby Jockeys Weigh? Bustle. https://www.bustle.com/p/how-much-do-the-kentucky-derby-jockeys-weigh-56182

[3] Anonymous. (2012, November 4). Height in sports. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Height_in_sports

[4] Stulp, G., Buunk, A. P., Verhulst, S., & Pollet, T. V. (2015). Human height is positively related to interpersonal dominance in dyadic interactions. PloS one, 10(2), e0117860. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4342156/ 

[5] Zaccaro, S. J., Gilbert, J. A., Thor, K. K., & Mumford, M. D. (1991). Leadership and social intelligence: Linking social perspectiveness and behavioral flexibility to leader effectiveness. The Leadership Quarterly, 2(4), 317–342. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/104898439190018W?via%3Dihub 

[6] Stulp, G., Buunk, A. P., & Pollet, T. V. (2013, June). Women want taller men more than men want shorter women. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(8), 877-883. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886913000020

[7] Wang, J., Chen, Q., Chen, G., Li, Y., Kong, G., & Zhu, C. (2020, April 10). What is creating the height premium? New evidence from a Mendelian randomization analysis in China. PloS ONE, 15(4). https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0230555 

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