I’m 5′ 11”. In my life, I have slept with a fair few men, most of whom were the same height as, or taller than me. Am I horribly shallow? No, not really. But I can tell you that as a tall girl it’s genuinely quite difficult to find shorter guys who are actually willing to fuck me.
Of those who might be up for a shag, many have spent a long time making excruciatingly tedious comments about how massive I am, or listing ways in which I need to slightly adjust (take off heels, slouch a bit, sit down) in order to meet with their approval. That tends to put me off a bit, to be honest.
So I get a teeny tiny bit fucked off with articles such as this one, in which the author explains that tall women wouldn’t date him because he is short. I get even more fucked off with the comments, in which people explain – repeatedly – that women are judgmental and shallow because they won’t sleep with shorter guys.
Here are some examples:
“You would expect most people who use the Guardian’s dating site – soulmates – to be feminists.
It amazes me how many women make a fuss about the height of their potential partner. “Sorry guys I’m tall and wouldn’t date anyone shorter than me,” is a regular proviso.”
“Women don’t like (as partners) men who are shorter than them, or weaker than them, or less professionally sucessful than them. How this can be reconciled with feminism is, well, left as an exercise for the reader…”
“Men who say “no fat chicks” are generally considered unpleasant.
Women who say “I won’t date a guy under 6ft” don’t face any disapproval.”
You must be this tall to ride
Are they right? Do lots of women say ‘no short guys’? Hmm. Some do, and I’m going to assume for this post that it’s widespread. It’s definitely more common than people saying – as the grotesque commenter above pointed out – ‘no fat chicks’, but I’m guessing people who wouldn’t date someone because they’re fat are less likely to openly say so. They’re more likely to filter out via profile photos, thus keeping their general hatred for fat people hidden deep in their rotting soul where no one else can see it.
So: let’s assume loads of women say ‘no short guys.’ Given that it indicates a certain level of shallowness, as mentioned above – why on earth would they say it out loud?
Well, firstly it’s because if height matters, stating it up front may cut down on people who lie about it. I have dated guys before who, while I couldn’t give a toss about their height, have very clearly lied about it on their dating profile. I once turned up to a date with someone and genuinely didn’t recognise him, because he’d listed himself as 6 foot and he was actually 5′ 5”. Annoying, because it meant I broke my straight run of ‘being the first person to say ‘hi’ on the OKC date because I’m so nifty at recognising the difference between profile pics and life.’
He’s not the only one. OKTrends (the OKCupid data blog, which – be aware – is not only fairly out of date but sometimes makes some pretty alarming/weird links) points out that men, on average, lie to the tune of 2 inches when talking about their height. Women lie too, apparently, and they lie upwards as well, which I find super-interesting but it’s probably not relevant here.
Basically: people lie about height. So if you really do care about height then – although personally I think it’s a fucking horrible criteria on which to judge whether someone’s a fun person – you have to state up-front that it’s important, so your potential dates know that they won’t be able to laugh it off when they rock up and can’t get on the rollercoasters.
Why won’t tall women date short men?
Now the important question: why on earth would it matter? Why are these tall women being so cruel as to reject guys on the basis of their height? It is, after all, pretty mean. And self-destructive, because it could lead them to miss out on an awesome shag/boyfriend/husband.
I think the answer lies in the original article.
Headlined “Tall women rarely fancy small men – that explains my traumatic dating years”, I expected it to be a lament about times when tall women had turned the author down, or told him they simply couldn’t cope with the height difference and maybe could he stand on a box or something. But let’s take a look at his examples:
“During my traumatic dating years, I briefly went out with a couple of taller women, but found my shaky self-esteem couldn’t really cope.”
That’s sad. It really is, and I feel for him. As a tall woman, I have struggled with this a few times. It hasn’t stopped me dating short guys though, and it certainly doesn’t back up his ‘tall women don’t fancy me’ scenario.
“I once met a girl of Taylor Swiftian stature at a bar… we were both on stools … there came a moment where I slid off said stool. Naturally I assume she greeted this with the same horror Samantha [In Sex and the City] does… it bothered me. If this fling goes anywhere, I thought, would I be able to stand up in public again?”
Again – his problem. Notice he doesn’t say anything at all about her reaction, only that he assumed she would ‘greet this with horror.’ He doesn’t say if she actually greeted this with horror, but there’s a teeny clue as to how horrified she was by his height in what happens between them next…
They go on the second date.
Yep. So horrified was she by his stature that she went out with him again. Sounds to me like she’s not bothered. Him, on the other hand?
“I confirmed that I wouldn’t [be able to stand up in public again] when we went on a second date that involved playing pool in a bar… lo and behold, a small crowd of men gathered around us, sniggering smuttily at regular intervals. Now, a gentleman would have told them to locate their manners or face the consequences. But I was too busy focusing on how I could get from my chair to the table without standing up.”
Again, none of this was a result of what she’d said or done. She’d gone on another date with him, presumably because she fancied him, and it was his own insecurity that did the rest of the work. This scenario is a far cry from ‘tall women won’t date short men,’ – in fact it’s ‘I, a short man, can’t date tall women.’
Later in life, he got married:
“My wife is that (disputed) half an inch shorter than me, and only a pair of heels away from being two inches taller than me, hence why I’ve encouraged her Converse trainer habit.”
Oh. I see. You ‘encourage’ your wife to make herself smaller because you cannot cope with a measly couple of inches of heel?
He’s not the only one – I’ve had guys ask me to wear flats, or tell me they feel uncomfortable that I’m tall, or any number of things that imply I should somehow make myself smaller so they don’t feel awkward. When I tweeted about this yesterday, I got a variety of responses from taller women:
- One whose date asked her to ‘wear lower shoes’, even though she was already in ballet flats
- One whose dad reacted with disgust when she reached teenage years and became taller than him
- One who got a serious back problem from stooping all the time
- One whose lover said it was impossible to *really* fall for her because of her height
To fuck me you must become smaller
Here’s my theory on why tall women won’t date short men: maybe they’re fucking sick of this shit. Maybe they, like me, have dated some short guys, and become frustrated with their dogged insistence that we wear flats, or stoop, or take up less space in order to protect their fragile egos. Perhaps their stipulation that a guy be tall comes not from an arbitrary decision about which height is sexiest, and instead from years of having to put up with guys who’ll moan about height and tell them to wear different shoes and even then complain woe-is-me about their shitty luck at having to ‘cope’ with a woman who towers over them.
Society tells us that in a het couple the guy should be taller than the girl. Society is wrong, and bad, and needs to sit in a corner and think about what it’s done. So I don’t lack sympathy for shorter guys who feel insecure, or indeed for tall girls like me who’ve occasionally worn flats or cricked their necks or leant on a convenient bench to try and appear smaller. I understand that this shit is hard.
But if I can understand that this shit is hard, then surely short blokes can too. And so can the hordes of angry Guardian commenters who are using ‘shallowness’ as an explanation when there’s far more to it than that.
There’s now one comment on the article that nails it for me, I think:
“I’m rather tall for a woman, but hardly freakishly so – somewhere between 5’8″ and 5’9″. I’ve dated men from 5’5″ to 6’4″ and almost all of them have made negative comments about my height (yes, even the 6’4″ fellow – he apparently needs to really tower over a woman to feel comfortable). And no, none of the shorter ones were wealthy – I was genuinely interested in them as people. I have a couple female friends in the 5’7″ to 5’8″ range who have also dated men a bit shorter than they are and have also received negative comments on their heights.”
If you were a tall woman, and this was what you had to put up with from past lovers, when the author of this article asked you on a date, shuffling awkwardly and making clear that the height difference was a problem for him, would you go on a fucking date with him?
So here’s my theory: while it’s more than possible that we are shallow, and it’s certainly true that we’re influenced by society’s attitudes, there’s another possibility we should entertain too:
Maybe we are sick of this bullshit.