The Awesomeness of Being Short
Proud of What I Am
I have the humorous drama of being married to a man who is almost a foot taller than me. This often results in his teasing ribbing about how short I am (I’m 5’2” plus a quarter of an inch) and I tease him back with the awesomeness of being short along with why short people are so much better than tall people. After all, Sarah Michelle Gellar is 5’2” and she kicks butt as Buffy. Then there’s the fitness phenomenon Jillian Michaels who, consequently, is also 5’2”. Not to mention a lot of other cool people who are that excellent height and the ones who secretly wish they were. Of course, knowing this doesn’t help when living in a world that seems designed for tall people. Case in point: when my mom, who is the same height as me minus the quarter of an inch, moved into her condo, all the kitchen cupboards – even the bottom level – were just out reach, requiring her to buy a step ladder.
As for me, there was my very real “trauma” of making a friend in college who also was taller than me (a happenstance that occurs quite often as most people are taller than me). Walking with her one time, she made the comment how she didn’t realize how much faster she was able to move because of her longer legs. Well, that friendship didn’t last for various complex reasons (of which I’m certain height difference played a part J), but to my chagrin, it ended right before I met a girl who was shorter than me and walked insanely fast. I smugly think most tall people would struggle to keep up with her.
Being short, I’ve often been able to be in humorous situations with people who are taller than me. Recently, my husband made the decision to cut his hair. As he couldn’t reach his back, he had to rely on short me to cut his hair. Being short, this meant I had to have him bend way down and then try to explain why, no, I still couldn’t see over his head the way a tall person would and yes, I was doing the best I could as a short person. He, of course being somewhat fussy over something as happenstance as hair follicles, insisted it be perfect. The result? Well, let’s just leave it at the comment that it was the first time he gave himself a haircut. Last night, though, I noticed that the back part looked like a downward triangle: another problem of my shortness. In his bended down state, I still couldn’t quite see over his very long back to the most middle part of his hair. He’s not as aware of this yet *grins*.
There has also been the situation in which, while walking through a cave, a tall person up ahead turned to me before approaching a low ceiling and said, “Watch your head.” To this, I was able to reply, quite merrily, that I had no ridiculous need of bending down because I still fit under the ceiling. This made her smile. I suppose short people have always been somewhat amusing to tall people. Gimli, for instance, illustrates this point. Frankly, though, I know he’s actually tall in real life. Still, as a short person in the film, did he have to belch quite so much? Anyway, that cave experience, consequently, came from the experience of studying abroad in Spain where it seemed that most of the population was gloriously short. A very soothing experience, that. Had I not been festively plump at the time, I might have been more appreciative of the clothes they offered (no need for a sequestered petite section).
Of course, there are the less humorous parts of being short. Like constantly being in the situation where I can’t reach things, then having to resort to the at times risky, at times unsanitary practice of jumping on the counter. Then there’s the frustration at never being as fast as people with tall legs or as able to casually go over the same barriers as they do with ease. Quite traumatic when you’re trying to keep up with everyone and have less legs to do it. Or trying to see over a crowd where everyone’s taller. Or sitting behind a tall person in a movie theater (you always have to move when that happens). Fortunately, one of my cousins in law, who is classified as being a dwarf, has shown me that, no, I don’t have to be bitter about it. She, being a gymnast, has found a way to laugh at her height difference. She gives me hope.
I still miss Spain though. I miss being a part of a culture where everyone is short. I miss feeling that sense of relief at looking at short models with their short tailored clothes. But life in tall world goes on and Paul says I should get rid of all bitterness. I’d like to argue with him and tell him that aint going to happen till I find myself a nice little hobbit hole and see some tall people hit their heads on a few more ceilings like Gandalf first. Of course, that’s not going to happen until someone pays me a bunch of money for being as smart as I know myself to be *grins.* Then I can build a nice little hobbit hole where my husband knows the pain of being tall (yeah, in that instance, this isn’t so much about tall hate so much as the desire to annoy the so-called better half, which is half the fun of being married anyway).
Having written about being short, I see in my past history my innate favoritism and compassion of people who are short. Even if we never talk about our height, I have this sense that they know the frustration of picking out clothes from the petite section and the constant struggle to compensate for their shortness. I wonder if they are riddled with the complex emotions of pride and shame about being short. I wonder if their perception of Napolean is different (I think tall people quickly connect his shortness with anger at being short. What? His brilliance has to be mitigated by his shortness?). I wonder if they feel somewhat bristly about how short male actors have to do certain things to compensate for their height or get frustrated when they try to play tall sports like basketball?
Being short, you see, is a conscious part of my identity. It probably means I live in a small world in which trivial issues take the place of serious ones (after all, I’m sure most people, myself included, would be hard pressed to take this issue seriously – but man, if you are short, you owe it to yourself to get kitchen cupboards that are in reach). I still remember one time when I was in seventh grade, a man came to speak to us about some important stuff. I can’t for the life of me remember what he came to speak to us about or anything he said. All I remember is gaping at this 6’11” tall man (he actually admitted his height) who told his audience that his wife was 4’11.” Everyone thought that was hysterical and awesome.
For me, I remember wondering how they worked through the physicality of their difference. Even now, I have this ardent desire to meet this woman, shake her hand, and ask how she does it. Does she have to ask him almost all the time to reach for the tall stuff? Does she have trouble walking with him? If she picked out their furniture, did she do what I did and think “Will I be able to reach this?” (I’m so guilty of getting short- friendly furniture from my grandparents instead of tall furniture). And then there’s the other stuff that we wouldn’t talk about but I’d wonder none the less. Being so lost in the identity of shortness, this was what I considered quite highly.
Today, I have come to a better appreciation of tallness along with a wider sense of important, adult issues. But in some sense, I remain unchanged. Because no matter how I strive to better myself, I still carry in me the sense that being short is dang awesome.
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