Picture the scene: You’re on holiday with all your friends in the hotel swimming pool. Everyone’s larking about, having a great time and congregating at one end to discuss Tracey’s latest romantic disaster. Only your focus isn’t on Tracey…it’s on the painful realisation that you’re at the deep end of the pool and the only one of the gang who can’t touch the bottom and so are left frantically treading water, panting for air. Once out of the water you all head to the pool cocktail bar and everyone hops onto a stool and orders a beverage. Only you can’t focus on the menu as you have to do a flying leap whilst holding onto the bar for support in order to get yourself high enough to perch on the bar stool and then worry about how your legs are dangling miles above the foot-rest. Everyone goes inside to prepare for the night on the town. You head to the bathroom to do your make-up. Only you struggle to focus on your mascara application when you have to stand on extreme tip-toe just to be able to see your eyebrows in the mirror.
Dressed to the nines you hasten down the ‘strip’ to the nearest watering hole. Of course you have to walk twice as fast as everyone else just to keep up, which results in an awkward skipping jog, which is no easy feat in heels. The group enters a bar and rushes to order a drink. There may be no bar stools to contend with, but the barman’s attention will certainly be harder to get when everyone towers around you, so you clamber onto the metal bar that runs round the bottom of the bar and lean forward in attempt to block the frantic ‘come hither’ movements of the 5.ft 8, 32GG girl next to you in an attempt to attract the attentions to the barman. Drink finally obtained you turn to find your friends. They’ve gone. And of course you’ll struggle to find them in the crowd as you can’t see over anyone’s heads, you’ll find yourself constantly at boob-level and are obviously hard to locate yourself in a crush. In short (pun intended), you’re doomed.
At least you’ll be the only one not complaining about leg room on the Ryanair flight home.
If you haven’t got the message already, being short is a toughie, and the fact that, at 5ft.1, I’m three inches off being an actual dwarf, definitely puts things in perspective. That said, why men think it’s appropriate to state “You’re short” on first meeting me, is truly baffling. Would you approach a horizontally challenged person, poke their flab and say, “You’re fat!” No. Nothing will of course be ever as insulting as the song Short People by Randy Newman, according to whom we have “little eyes…nasty little feet” and “nobody to love”. Cruel, coming from a man named Randy. The term I prefer is ‘petite’, and yes I do enjoy shopping in the ‘New Look’ kids section, what of it?
Two summers ago, aged 20, I worked in a kid’s summer camp. One little cherub said to me one day whilst pulling on my hair: “You’re not an adult…you’re not tall enough to be an adult.” Delightful. The thing is, of course, is that these angels ranged from age five right to 14. Five year olds I can deal with – they come up to thigh level and think you’re the best thing to ever do up their shoelaces; 14 year-olds: a different kettle of fish. For starters, they’re huge. Seriously, what do parents feed their kids that make them quite so tall these days? So when an enormous fourteen year old girl – who already owns every Apple branded product there is, and is on their fourth piercing – looms over you and tells you they absolutely do not want to make the papier-mâché Aztec mask, what do you do? You nod humbly and agree that of course they can text their boyfriend in the corner and possibly run off to the loo to cry. Okay, fine, I never cried, but still, gargantuan adolescents are a lot more intimidating than I’d like to think.
Interestingly, some children aren’t quite so baffled. “Who’s mummy are you?” the French treasures would enquire when I was teaching in France last year: “Are you married?”, “How many children do you have?” This is ironic considering I’m ID’d by every single bouncer I ever encounter.
Furthermore, simple everyday tasks that pose no problem to you leggy folk out there flummox us: car park barriers for one. Sure they look unthreatening enough, after all it’s your car who has to deal with them not you (although we could very easily duck under them without hardly bending our spine, should it be required), but it’s the machines that come with said barriers that prove so much of an obstacle. No matter how closely I park next to the machine the ‘eject ticket’ button is always just out of reach, leaving me no other option than to undo my seatbelt and heave my entire upper half out of the car window to collect the ticket, while a line of cars beeps angrily at me from behind. On more than one occasion, my mother (three inches smaller than me believe it or not) has been forced to open her car door and actually get out in order to obtain the ticket.
However, although the world sometimes seems to be presenting a long line of height related obstacle courses, and people frequently joke about not being able to get on all the rides at ‘Thorpe Park’ (mean), being short is actually not as bad as everyone thinks. And I shall tell you just some reasons pourquoi:
1. Even at 22 you can still purchase child tickets
2. You can easily push your way through crowds/queues without being noticed
3. If your sexual tendencies lean towards woman, you are nearly almost directly face to breast on a daily basis (albeit you find yourself accidentally motor-boating someone in Klute)
4. Men are very, very rarely smaller than you, meaning that, for a girl, your fish pool of dating/pulling material is even broader
5. You never bash your head on low ceilings/dangling lampshades, and so consequently must retain more brain cells than others (no?)
6. You’re the perfect ‘little spoon’
Needless to say there are many other reasons why being small really isn’t all that bad. So for all those of you who think under-average-height people “don’t deserve to live” as a certain Randy would have us believe, think again.
I mean, we all know American singers have a penchant for the smaller women in the world, don’t we? I mean there must be a reason why they constantly tell us they love “my shawty, my life” and how “hey shawty, it’s your birthday”, n’est ce pas? Okay, sure they like to think that it’s just a general term of endearment but deep, deep down, we all know it’s us petite ones they’re after, even if our legs “only come up to here” (Bridget Jones – I know how you feel).