If only he was taller…

By Collin Bryant | Sports Writer

The social norm has been in place for centuries: Guys find girls that are shorter than them, girls find guys that are taller than they are. Culturally, we think of nothing else as normal. Seeing a tall girl walk down the street with a short guy typically will elicit stares and comments.

I’m a 5-foot-8-inch stocky African-American male who hates discrimination. I wouldn’t dare discriminate when it comes to members of the opposite sex. As far as I’m concerned, any intelligent, ambitious, religious, good-hearted person that can make me better will pique my interest. I don’t care if you’re 4 feet 11 inches tall or 6 feet 3 inches tall, I’m going to say hello and court you the same way I would anyone else. However, that isn’t the case with many people. Typically it’s the opposite.

A 2008 study of college students found that 90 percent of women wanted their partner to be, at bare minimum taller than them, and 50 percent of men wanted their partner to be shorter.

The statistics tend to match up to the societal norm. How often do you hear women say, “I only date tall guys,” “If he’s not 6-foot, I’m not interested,” or my personal favorite, “If only he were taller.” Somewhere along the way, it became an absolute travesty to date somebody short.

Seth Meyers, a clinical psychologist with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and licensed relationship expert, brought more light to the issue by explaining some of the flaws in this logic. Meyers challenged the claim, “I feel more protected with a taller guy,” in a portion of his article. There are plenty of short men that could protect the person he is with regardless of their height, much more efficiently than taller counterparts. Personally, I know guys my height that can strike fear in just about anybody, with contrasting 6-foot-2-inch or 6-foot-3-inch guys that couldn’t protect a stuffed animal from an energized baby, and yet the flawed reasoning remains.

The unspoken rule book saying what is or what is not OK in terms of dating someone based off aesthetic seems to be outdated. However, blame can’t simply be placed on one side of this issue. Short men are sometimes insecure in their masculinity, overcompensate for their height and close themselves off to the idea of being with anyone taller. They lack the confidence to be with someone more vertically gifted because they’ve bought into the stigmas bestowed upon them by our wonderful society.

Hayley MacMillen of Cosmopolitan tried to attack the issue, attempting to change the narrative. MacMillen said guys who are comfortable being shorter than their girl would most likely be comfortable with that same girl’s intelligence, talent and ambition.

Men and women that went into the dating world focusing on deeper, more internal qualities versus something like height, would tremendously expand their options of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes. So while I can only speak as one short man in the pool of the small-sized, I can say without a doubt that a lot of what she says is true for myself.

With that in mind, I leave you this question. As a guy, would you miss out on a chance to be with the right person because she’s a few inches taller than you in pictures? To the girls, would you miss out on a chance to be with someone who truly values you from every facet of who you are top to bottom because you don’t stand on your tip toes to kiss him?

Someone very close to me once said, “People are entirely too concerned with themselves to pay attention to whatever you’re doing and why,” and as harsh as it sounds, I hope it’s true. I’ve spent entirely too much of my time feeling obligated to draw attention to my height before someone else did, because I really felt like it was a problem. I can’t change my height. Lord knows I’ve spent enough time wishing I could. However, within accepting myself, I’ll be damned to let anyone who is wasting their time to see how tall my partner is affect any relationship I have. I really hope that with all the actual issues that should determine people’s interests, height isn’t always going to be one, because some great people may never meet some other great people because of something that was never in their control.