So disclaimer: some are going to take this the wrong way. You’ll think I’m whining, complaining, whatever. I’m not. Reserve judgment to the end. This post isn’t going where you think it’s going.
If you have any experience in the real world then you can see that tall people have certain unearned advantages over shorter people, ones that don’t just extend to being able to reach the top shelf at the grocery store. Taller individuals come with bigger frames that can accommodate greater weight and strength. The same training regimen will yield different results for a tall guy vs a short guy. No matter how strong a short guy can get, a tall guy can eclipse him with enough effort. In the dating market, women prefer tall dudes, at least guys that are taller than them. Even girls of below average female height prefer guys of above average male height. This gives tall men their pick of virtually every woman and leaves short men trying to capture the short female demographic.
It doesn’t just stop at dating women either. People generally like tall people more than shorties. Something about looking up gives the impression of authority and dominance. A charismatic tall man can clear the lot selling pretty much anything thanks in part to his stature. He’s more likely to be hired in blue collar jobs, whereas a short guy will be met with skepticism if his job requires lifting of any kind. No tall man has to deal with the awkward question from a prospective employer if he can even do the work. For him, it’s assumed outright.
No one mistakes a tall guy for being under age. No one assumes that a tall guy has a complex the way short men do. There are clothing stores that cater to big and tall men, but good luck trying to find a pair of jeans with an inseam shorter than 30in.
All of these advantages are unearned privileges granted to a person born a certain way simply because of social perception in regards to height. Tall Privilege is a thing that actually exists, and it is not fair for underprivileged shorter men, like myself. I am about 5ft 7in (1.70 meters for the rest of the world), and because of that there are some things that I will not accomplish because of my height. But you know what? That’s okay.
And here is where we veer off course. No, we’re not going to the pity party, as you might expect.
There are two ways my ego can handle this basic fact of reality. The first is the road to ruin, the other is the road of acceptance.
I could start a new career as a Tall Privilege Activist by going on the internet and decrying the unjust oppression that afflicts short people while also demanding that the tall check their unearned privilege. My main goal would be to change social perceptions of short people in an attempt to make things fair and just, for if we lived in a world that didn’t see height and just treated people like individuals, there would be no Napoleon complex and the world would be a better place. That would be my utopian cause, my holy crusade, to make everything equal between the talls and the shorts.
Of course, I would never succeed at this. Changing social consciousness cannot be done by one man, and I would waste a great many years trying to get society to change in my favor. However, I could gather thousands of followers and spend decades getting into academia to teach the new field of Physiological Privilege and still not eradicate this bias because all the complaining and navel gazing in the world won’t change people in their day to day lives. All that effort would ultimately be a waste.
And would all that activism make me a better person? No. I would still be short. Nothing can change that. Only now, I would be made bitter by my constant shaming of others and demanding of them to “check their tall privilege”. I would see staturism everywhere and every instance would make me bitter and angry. Broadcasting this crusade to the world would not gain me acceptance, but would instead reveal to the world my insecurities. Who would take on a friend or lover with that kind of baggage? If anything, I would be reinforcing the negative stereotype that short people have such complexes about their height, which would harm, not help, other shorties who are comfortable with their stature. Instead of finding serenity in acceptance, I would only obsess over the slight handicap I was born with and make it my identity.
The path of activism and awareness – of changing everyone else to meet your ideal and exploding with rage at those that don’t – will only lead to a life wasted and saturated in negativity.
But there is a second path: acceptance.
I’m short, and I can’t help being short. The rational response is to understand that I can’t change my height, nor can I change the world, but there are many other things about myself that I can change. I can focus on being a good conversationalist. I can work on my mind and body. I can try my best to be a good human being so that these things put together make up for my height to the point where I and others forget just how short I am. The very act of trying to better one’s self will turn you into a positive person because the accomplishment you feel when you finally succeed beats the handicap that held you back. Yes, in the end Tall Privilege would still exist, but it would have no affect on me.
There is wisdom in not only understanding what you can and can’t change, but what you should and shouldn’t change. I can’t fault women for liking what they like. I can’t hate my employer for being skeptical of my lifting ability (to which I proved their preconceptions wrong). I can’t be a happy, moral person while shaming tall people for being something they didn’t choose and cannot possibly give up.
The actual path to happiness is to understand that I was born with a cross to bear, just like everyone else, and that my goal is to ascend past my shortcomings.