Short people face bias, disadvantages

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Short people got no reason to live.

What if you were so short you couldn’t reach the top shelf to grab milk at Wal-Mart? As shocking as Randy Newman’s song is, some short people do feel like they’ve got no reason to live.

Anna Jones is a graduate from BYU.  She is beautiful, smart, talented, witty – and 4 feet 11 inches tall.

“I think people don’t think of me as being a real person,” Jones said. “They think I’m some sort of freak of nature that’s not their equal or a subtype of human being that’s not like them.”

Jones has a long list of disadvantages of being short.

“I can’t reach anything, I can’t touch the floor when I sit, and I think a lot of guys never considered me as someone they would date,” she said. “I think it’s definitely harder for boys to be short because girls can pass as cute and petite, but for guys, everybody notices. I’m sure they are much more discriminated against.”

David Hogg, 26, a senior majoring in exercise science, said being short while growing up wasn’t too bad at first.

“I remember the first day of seventh grade I got on the bus to go home and I walked to the back of the bus where all the eighth and ninth graders sat … and all the older girls were like, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s so cute,’ ” Hogg said with a laugh. “Because I was short I got to sit with all the hot eighth- and ninth-grade girls.”

But being short got harder as he aged. Hogg didn’t start growing until he was 16 years old. Until then he said he was bullied, pushed and teased.

“In eighth grade when I was 14 I was 4-foot-8 – super short – and I would get picked on a lot because I couldn’t do anything about it,” Hogg said.

 

[media-credit name=”Luke Hansen” align=”alignleft” width=”204″][/media-credit]Research shows the bias against short people continues throughout adulthood, especially when it comes to jobs.

 

In a collaborative message from professors in BYU’s Organizational Leadership and Strategy Department, they said there is definitely bias against short people in the workforce.

David Cherrington, professor of organizational behavior, said discrimination has been documented for almost a century.

“One of the early articles I remember reading was about the height advantage of life insurance salesmen,” Cherrington said. “Taller salesmen are more successful and better leaders. Recently, there was a study on what was called the ‘Height advantage.’  The report said that there is a $2,000 per inch advantage in the starting salaries of business school graduates.”

Assistant professor Katie Liljenquist said short bias can be seen from the styles in history.

“My short, bald (and brilliant) adviser in grad school used to joke about how he succeeded in spite of himself,” Liljenquist said. “We may giggle at the image of past generations of men parading around in heels, but as we learn more about the influence of height on a myriad of personal outcomes, it seems that men sporting pumps were more than fashionistas.”

Associate professor Michael Thompson gave further evidence that proves discrimination against short people in the workforce.

“Research … suggests that someone who is 6 feet tall earns, on average, nearly $166,000 more during a 30-year career than someone who is 5 feet 5 inches – even when controlling for gender, age and weight,” Thompson said.

Jones said she has seen a slight bias in past jobs. She said every job she’s ever applied to, she has had a male boss who hires small, unobtrusive women like her because they will do what he tells them.

Besides job discrimination, short people have to endure lifelong fights with the daily things most people take for granted.

“Food is hard because if you put on any weight you look a lot chubbier because it has nowhere to go,” Jones said. “If I gained 10 pounds and my 6-feet tall friend gained 10 pounds, it’s a very different thing … and to lose weight is difficult because you have to basically have zero fat on your body. You have to be really skinny or you look chubby.”

And what about dating? Well, that depends on gender. Both Jones and Hogg have dated someone that was 6 feet 2 inches tall. While Jones had no problem with dating a taller guy, Hogg said the experience with a taller girl was … interesting.

“Yeah, it was awkward standing up and kissing her because I had to awkwardly move my head up,” Hogg said with a laugh. “Girls like tall guys. Short guys are ‘cute’ like old men and puppies are ‘cute.’ ”

Given, nowadays there are more and more couples where the female is taller than the male.

Jena Pratt, 19, a sophomore studying anthropology, said she loves shorter guys. At 5 feet 7 inches, she said the shortest she’s gotten to date was a man three inches shorter than her.

“I think short guys are extremely attractive,” Pratt said.

Jones said the major advantage to being tall is simply that you feel normal. According to her, there are absolutely no disadvantages to being tall.

“I have a couple of girlfriends that are 6 feet tall and they like it,” Jones said. “I have amazon friends, and they would wear heels and be freakishly tall, and they thought it was cool.”

Katherine Newkirk, 20, a junior majoring in international relations, is 6 feet 2. She thinks being short and tall both have challenges but how to deal with these prejudices depends on attitude.

“Shortness could be seen connected with a disability, even though it’s not, just like being freakishly tall could be connected with a disability,” she said. “You are who you are and you should be proud of it.”

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