I will never understand heterosexual dating culture’s obsession with height. Just get a footstool! | Rebecca Shaw

A few nights ago, for some reason, I got served a TikTok where (dating) actors Zendaya and Tom Holland were asked a question about their much-commented-on height difference. OK, the reason might be because I’d been scrolling TikTok for 25 minutes and earlier that day googled Zendaya’s height after seeing Dune: Part Two … but who knows.

In this TikTok, Zendaya replied that her mum is taller than her dad, so tall woman/shorter man relationships were always normal to her, and she didn’t even realise it was an issue until dating Tom (who also doesn’t find it an issue).

To me, heterosexual dating culture’s obsession with height has always been one of its most baffling features (among many). And some of my best friends are tall men! My disapproval of this state of affairs comes from a couple of different angles. The first is annoyance that in addition to other advantages that come with being men, some are automatically placed at the top of the desirability heap because their shins are a bit longer or whatever. Tall straight white men especially are given broad advantages in social situations, careers, salaries and pretty much every other scenario – besides seats on flights. Maybe it’s the fact they’ve often got all these things going for them that has led a scary proportion of women to feel they simply can’t be attracted to any man they don’t have to physically look up at.

Tall men have an easier path to winning people over, and to success, which people find hot, which is then associated with tallness, and so the cycle repeats. Would you swipe past Mark Ruffalo because he can look you directly in the eyes? It’s not like me to defend men, but there’s a reason so many of them exaggerate their height a couple of inches like a kid trying to get on a rollercoaster – because it makes a literal difference. It’s probably because I am a fat woman that I think it’s important to interrogate all of these desires and dealbreakers we think we have. I give thanks every day that I am a lesbian, because women and queer people are much more likely to push back at what society says is acceptable hotness. It also means I have empathy for shorter men, but not those who blame women for this patriarchal issue, refusing to develop good personalities to entice all the women who would happily date them.

To the gals out there with a minimum height requirement for romantic partners, I ask: why is tallness so important? Is it because you, as a woman, want to feel small, like Stuart Little? Are you afraid of your own power? Is it for a feeling of protection? I’m sorry to inform you that some of the biggest weak dweebs I know are 6ft and taller. Shorter men have a lower centre of gravity; they are agile – I know which one I’d want by my side if we were being attacked by a goose.

That’s my other main issue with the automatic lauding of the tall. Even if a man towers over you it doesn’t mean he will protect you. Since the moment a guy sprouts overnight in high school and becomes prom king (Zac Efron’s height is 173cm by the way), they know how big this advantage is, and it’s reinforced constantly. This knowledge, and huge leg-up in dating, means a lot of the men being thirsted at have never really had to try. I have not had personal experience, but I know through other women that this can very often lead to someone you desire heavily, but who you don’t actually have great sex with, because the chemistry you invented only existed when you were standing up.

It’s not that I don’t find tallness attractive – I do! But not to the exclusion of other heights, and only in the same way I find shortness attractive, or exact same height attractive, or someone fighting off a goose attractive.

My major concern in all of this is that many women are cutting themselves off from great sex, and great relationships, because they have been convinced they will not get aroused if a man they like can’t reach something off the top shelf. Get a footstool, and open your mind.

Like with most socially inherited biases (except attitudes to fatness), it’s all slightly, slowly, inch by inch, shifting. We had a period where you couldn’t move without hearing about “short kings”, although I’m not sure how many Queens actually put that into practice in their real lives. We have Jeremy Allen White and Barry Keoghan as internet boyfriends of the moment, both around 5ft 7 tall.

I can’t expect society to stop rewarding tall men for being tall, but I do think women (and everyone) can make a difference by interrogating their own desires and expanding their stringent boundaries. It not only opens up your dating pool, it opens you up to different kinds of people and experiences. It’s time for tall men to have to prove themselves like everyone else, and it’s time for the rest of us to be more like Zendaya.

Rebecca Shaw is a writer based in Sydney

Source link

Leave a Reply

Back To Top