I recently came across this article on National Geographic, “Short People Got …. Lots of Reasons to be Paranoid.” It was a very interesting read and I suggest you give it a quick read, or what I will write here will make very little sense.
Simply put, the study believes that taller people have more self confidence and are perceived more as leaders, than shorter people. It often results in shorter people having less self confidence, feeling vulnerable, and displaying a great deal of paranoia. They used a virtual reality tour, making people take a ride on the London subway. They are assigned an avatar and they can interact with other passengers. They took two rides. One at what would be considered “normal” height and then another ride with the person being a “head” shorter than everyone. People expressed feelings of paranoia and vulnerability when they became shorter. They felt dumbed down and almost like a child again.
I can imagine the drastic change this may have caused a lot of people who participated in the study. Especially, if they are a tall person. As for me, this has been my life since the day I was born. Growing up, I was always shortest in my class. I was teased to no end because of this. In some ways, I suppose it worked to my advantage. Boys liked that I was small and cute. In other ways, I was a great target for teasing. Being smaller than everyone, meant others would pick on me to bring themselves up even further.
As the years passed on, I maxed out at an even 5 feet. So yeah, I’m a short woman and I’ve lived this way now for many years. When someone asks me if someone else is tall, my answer is always, “Well, everyone is taller than me, so my definition of tall is a bit skewed.” I’m used to not being able to see things, unless I’m up at the front. I’m used to not being able to reach things at the store. I’m used to being pushed around and having invisible days.
I have to say, unlike what the title of the article suggests, I don’t have feelings of paranoia. I don’t feel like I am in danger or that people are out to get me. There is no fear when I am out amongst crowds of people. I will however say, that I don’t do crowds very well. They exhaust me. They are physically and mentally exhausting. Being shorter means people disregard my presence, a lot. I get physically pushed around, shoved aside, cut in front of, and at the end of that, I’m left feeling absolutely deflated as a human being.
It is extremely difficult to have high self confidence when the people around you can disregard you so easily. It does feel that when I am in a crowd of people, I just melt into the background. It does have a way of belittling you and often, that carries into life outside of the crowds.
I am not a leader. I have never made my mark in society and have never been determined to be a leader. I am naturally a follower and a contributor. I’m not complaining about this. I fit this role perfectly and it fits me. This article suggests that my height might be an influence on the fact that I am more a follower than a leader. Could very well be true. It also states that people of shorter stature have to work doubly hard just to prove themselves as worthy leaders. I can see how this can be true. I think being short, equates me to being a child in their subconscious.
I remember this one day, when I was working at a privately owned facility, I was getting ready to take a group of children on a tour of my area and my manager was speaking to them first. He was speaking to them to kill some time until I showed up to take over. What he didn’t realize, was that I was right there, next to him. I think he was a bit embarrassed that he failed to see me. He blamed my blending into the children because I was as tall as them.
Being short certainly makes me feel like more of a child at times. I don’t feel like people “see” me. I often feel like my thoughts don’t count for anything. Right now, tall and slender women seem to be what society deems as beautiful and desirable. Well, that will never be me. I often feel less of a woman at times too. I will never have long legs and long, feminine hands and fingers. Being short always leaves me feeling like I will never “grow” into being a woman and I’m not sure I will ever shake that feeling off. Heck, just look at the photo on the Nat Geo article. To me, the two shorter women, look so much younger and more like teens than adults. Perhaps that’s my short influenced mental state? Do you view that photo differently than I do? It would be very interesting if you did. Would really show my “short” mental state influencing what I see in the world around me.
It’s not all bad being short. Feeling like I am more childlike than adult, may have negative influences on my mental state, but it also has some positive influences. I feel young and because of this, I stay pretty active in life.
I’m also extremely observant in my day to day activities. I know this must be heavily influenced by my being short. Of course, my observational skills were increased a notch (or hundred) when I pursued a career working with animals. Needless to say, being an observant person, helps keep me safe (and alive) when working with exotic animals. When I am out and about in the world around me, my senses are on alert. I observe the people around me. I listen to the sounds around me. I’m extremely aware of my surroundings. This could be why I am not “paranoid”. I don’t have anything to be paranoid about when I know exactly what is going on around me. Even in a crowded subway train, standing in the middle of a cluster of tall people, I just make the most of my journey, even if I can’t see much around me.
“People look up to tall people and down on short ones.” Being short isn’t easy. It can make it difficult to have self confidence. It’s not fun walking through a crowded train station and having someone run past and plow a briefcase into your thigh and just keep running. It’s not fun having to make sure you get to a “standing room only” event, hours ahead of time, just to ensure you can see what’s on stage. It’s certainly not fun feeling like you have to scream and shout and blast through a crowd like a football player, just to get noticed. It isn’t all bad though. My shortness, makes me feel more youthful and energetic. I think my keen observational skills are a positive too and just one of my quirks. In the end, it’s give and take. Short, tall, thin, fat… we all have our own struggles and victories. Perhaps you can understand mine a little but more.
© Semi-Charmed Life