The Short Guy Stigma

Cristen Conger

One of the most pervasive and talked about forms of body shaming is weight bias, as Caroline and I discussed in our podcast conversation on fat- and thin-shaming The Body Shaming Epidemic. In brief, overweight women in particular are penalized for the shape of their bodies in the form of conscious and unconscious negative bias exhibited at home, school, work and even the doctor's office. Once you start digging into the research, it seems there's almost no place where overweight people are safe from ugly stereotypes.

Another less talked about stop along the body shaming spectrum is height-based stereotyping particularly targeted at men. Study after study reveals how short men tend to make less money than their taller counterparts, have a harder time dating and are generally assumed to be more jealous and angry. After hearing from a number of short male Stuff Mom Never Told You fans who've endured height-based taunting, I decided to dig more into the topic and hopefully raise some awareness about how short-shaming isn't acceptable and needs to stop.

And also, as a tall (5'9") woman, I have some skin in this height stereotyping game as well. If I elect to wear heels and thus tower over my boyfriend, I brace myself for the double-takes passersby inevitably toss our way. Because of short guy stigmatizing, it's considered wacky and even emasculating for straight women to be taller than their male partners, and as I can tell you from the experience of dating men both significantly taller and shorter than myself, height has nothing to do with "manliness" or basic goodness of character. Bottom line: short-shaming is a form of body shaming, and the faster we can all agree to cut that kind of nonsense out, the better the world will be for everyone: tall or short, thin or fat, and everything in between.