Fat, Media

Shortness Reaching Epidemic Proportions!

Okay, you really must read this BBC article apricotmuffins just linked to in comments: Short people rate worse on health.

Check this out:

The results predicted that increasing height could help boost feelings of wellbeing.

If men could add just 7cm (2.7in) to their height and women 6cm (2.3in), their health-related quality of life could improved by 6.1%.

No, it’s not April 1, and that’s not from The Onion. That is the BBC reporting on actual doctors saying that if short people would just grow, their health would improve. An extra two inches would take away those grubby little fingers and dirty little minds, evidently.

And it gets better.

Professor Gary Butler, a professor of paediatrics and growth at the University of Reading, said that there was biological evidence that taller people enjoyed better health and lived longer.

“We do know there is an association between being healthier and being taller. This relates to many types of diseases, but particularly heart disease.

“As people get healthier with better nutrition and disease prevention, their growth is better. The two factors go along in parallel.”

Gosh, I had no idea nutrition was responsible for the fact that I’m not growing anymore! I thought it was, you know, because I’m 32 years old. SILLY ME.

Oh wait, you mean he’s talking about the population as a whole, not individuals? Well, then it’s a little funny he didn’t mention what else “goes along in parallel” with improved nutrition, disease prevention, and a population getting taller: the same population getting fatter.

Huh. Weird.

Seriously, you guys, you all need to bookmark this article for perspective when reporting on THE OBESITY CRISIS gets you down. Because the language? Is exactly the same. The article even helpfully compares that imaginary addition of 2.wev inches to an imaginary loss of 10-15 kg. in an obese person. No mention of whether that’s an obese person built like Sharn or Kell or Heidi, of course. But losing 10-15 kg. would totally help any obese person! Just like growing two inches!

Hell, if I grew 4 inches, I wouldn’t be obese anymore, and if I grew 11 inches, I’d be “normal.” MAYBE THEY’RE ON TO SOMETHING!

One more thing to pay attention to in this article. Did you notice how it said “health-related quality of life” would be improved by additional height, not plain old health? That’s because of this:

[T]he study did not ascertain how healthy the individuals actually were.

Lead researcher Dr Torsten Christensen, senior health economist at Novo Nordisk, said: “We know that people who are short experience more difficulties in areas of their life such as education, employment and relationships than people of normal height.

“Although our study does not show that short height directly causes a reduction in physical health, it does indicate that short people are more likely to feel that they experience a lower health-related quality of life.”

So what they’re saying is, short people are discriminated against, which causes stress, which causes a “lower health-related quality of life,” even if being short doesn’t directly affect physical health.

I don’t suppose the same could possibly be true of fat people, do you? Naaaaaah.

Also, get a load of this:

“This work reinforces a message that being taller is better. But we should not make judgements on people if they are tall or short within the normal range. It makes short people feel less adequate or well off which should not be the case.”

Apparently it’s still okay to judge people who are tall or short outside the normal range, though. Whew. LITTLE PEOPLE AND PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYERS ARE TOTALLY UNHEALTHY AND SHOULD TAKE BETTER CARE OF THEMSELVES!

On that note, I was going to go for a different conclusion, but I just ran into barely-awake Al (always a party) on my way to the coffeepot. And I’ve had several requests for more Al convos recently, so let’s kill two birds with one stone.

Al [hugging me]: Hi. You blinded me with science.

(Yes, that’s a fairly typical morning greeting around here.)

Me: Thank you. Speaking of science, I just found a BBC article saying that if short people would just grow two inches, their health would improve.

Al: So… are you gonna do it?

Me: Totally.

Al: [blink]

Me: I’m posting right now about how people need to remember this article when they get bummed out by obesity crisis reporting, because the template for the article is exactly the fucking same.

Al: But, um… Sorry if I’m being dumb, but how are people supposed to get taller?

Me: Yeah, they never say that in the article. Just like they never say how fat people are supposed to lose weight permanently.

Al: Ahhhh.

Me: Indeed.

Update: Spaced Cowgirl cleverly noticed that one of the lead researchers quoted in the article is employed by Norvo Nordisk, and Fillyjonk cleverly discovered that that company is indeed working on growth hormone therapy.

So, yeah, there’s now officially no difference whatsoever between this and an article on the obesity crisis. Charming.

88 thoughts on “Shortness Reaching Epidemic Proportions!”

  1. Wow.

    When i was a kid, my mom wouldn’t let me draw with my left hand – my natural inclination. I asked why… the response? “Honey, left handed people don’t live as long.”

    Nevermind the weird dyslexic effects of forcing a lefty child to become a righty.

  2. So… if I wear the four-inch heels that would bring me up to appearance of average height, that would work, right? Or maybe I could join a special height-gain group and we could have weekly check-ins to see how our height gain is going, perhaps with prizes for every inch achieved.

  3. Okay – not sure if that comment made sense in context… my brain’s been jumping around more than usual lately, so i’ll eesplain, just in case.

    Trying to force someone to be something they’re not is going to be far worse to their physical/mental/emotional well-being, as opposed to just letting them be who they are. If you’re talking longevity, then you can look at the numbers and raw stats.

    But if you’re talking Quality Of Life? The numbers need to RIGHT out the bloody window. Quality Of Life and Longevity are NOT the same damn thing.

  4. I’d kind of been meaning to write about this eventually, but my mom and I have gotten in several fights over whether it was a good idea for my aunt and uncle to put my cousin on human growth hormone. She had to inject herself in the stomach every day, starting when she was maybe 10 years old (possibly even younger… I can never keep track of my cousins’ ages).

    My mom’s contention, and my grandma’s and my sister’s and my aunt’s and uncle’s, is that it was her idea. She didn’t want to be short. When she found out that she might not quite reach five feet, SHE was the one who wanted a cure, in any way possible.

    My contention, and this is just going to shock you to the bone, is that duh, of course she wanted to be taller by any means necessary; she was being tormented about it at school, like kids will torment anyone different, and instead of giving her the resources to like herself in spite of teasing, her parents were offering to FIX her. If my parents had offered me liposuction or gastric bypass when I was in middle school, I absolutely would have taken it. (And I wasn’t even really getting shit for my fat at school — I was getting it at home.)

    I can’t believe how wilfully people ignore the health implications of just being constantly shit on for how you look, or for anything else that people have no right to judge you for. Not only will it affect your overall quality of life, but it will make you amenable to some really dangerous behavior. Who knows what effects my cousin will have from injecting herself in the stomach with growth hormone at a crucial stage in her development?

    Incidentally, my cousin? Still short. Her mom is maybe 5’1″, 5’2″. Think that has anything to do with it?

  5. that’s so fucking dumb. humans are hell bent on finding physical ways to separate ourselves from each other. remember the leper colonies of yesteryear? worked for decades. centuries even. and then …

    “the discovery of an effective treatment for leprosy in 1982, combined with the realization that leprosy was not a particularly communicable disease (roughly 95% of the population is naturally immune) led to the decline of leper colonies around the world.”

  6. By the way Kate, big ups on the Randy Newman reference.

    I’d say he should write a song about fatties, what with how he has a gift for sarcasm that rivals ours… but given how many folks just didn’t get “Short People” when it came out, I think that idea might backfire.

  7. Oh, I got it, FJ, and I was all of 14 when it came out. I thought it was a scream at 5’3″, and so did my 5’2″ mom and her 5’4″ boyfriend. (Later I found out the song was partly Newman’s swipe at Eagles manager Irving Azoff, also 5’4″ and someone who was being a complete pest to Newman trying to get him to sign on.)

  8. Meowser, yeah, but you’re unusually smart. :)

    I mean, I think a lot of people got it, especially Newman fans. But a lot of people? Really didn’t.

  9. I’m curious as to why socio-economic status was never brought into the discussion. Looking at the population in general, people on the lower end of the economic spectrum are generally shorter AND tend to have less access to health services. So of course shorter people tend to have worse health. It’s your basic correlation/causation confusion that the media can never seem to get right.

  10. I can’t believe how wilfully people ignore the health implications of just being constantly shit on for how you look, or for anything else that people have no right to judge you for.

    Gold star, Fillyjonk. Damn straight. Also, holy shit about your cousin.

    Lindsay, I totally got what you were saying with the first comment. :)

    Sniper, let’s totally start Height Watchers.

    Col, I’d just about take a short-fat colony at this point. I bet we’d have the best parties.

    And FJ again, no kidding about Randy Newman. I imagine “Fat people got no reason to live” would be waaaay too popular for comfort.

  11. Do you think now we’ll see a wave of short celebrities (Danny DeVito, maybe?) endorsing corporate height-gain plans? For their health, of course.

  12. Dude, Height Watchers would be a wicked piece of satire. We should build a website. Who’s good at that?

  13. I took it the wrong way.
    Maybe it’s funny if you are taller than 5’2″

    I’m five feet plus one whopping 1/2 inch tall.

    I love this post, and this article so friggin’ much.
    I wouldn’t want to be any taller, really. I have the opposite of claustrophobia, I like small spaces and feel protected in them. I’m not really weird about it, I mean, I don’t cram myself into cubby holes or anything, but being short and flexible means you can sit in the way back of a bug when you are little (okay, not very safe, but fun — hey, this was the ’70s.) Not to bash people who do cram themselves into cubby holes.

    But really — it’s such a perfect illustration of the fallacy of trying to use population health to CONTROL INDIVIDUALS, rather than looking for trends and seeking environmental causes for problems, as it was originally intended. The origins of epidemiology are noble, and have helped to change how diseases are prevented, truly saving lives.

    I shudder at the thought of taking my kid to the pediatrician for immunizations and being offered (encouraged, coerced) into also getting growth hormone for said kid. (I’m pro immunizations, by the way).

  14. I took it the wrong way.
    Maybe it’s funny if you are taller than 5′2″

    I hadn’t reached my full height of 5’2″ when I first heard the song, but then, I first heard it from my 5’0″ mother singing it and laughing her head off. Context is everything. :)

  15. The song Short People brings back bad memories for me. Do you know that mean kids didn’t realize it was satire and tormented me with it non-stop as a child?

    I think my short family has given me more grief for being short than anyone else. By the way, Monday I was volunteering at a charity event for women’s sports. Holly Hunter was there, and I’ll admit I wandered a little closer to her than I should have because I wanted to see if she was as short as I am. She is! Someone better tell her that she’s in poor health and just overall an inferior person. Poor Holly! I bet she has deluded herself into thinking of herself as a beautiful, talented, fabulous movie star.

  16. Doctor: We have some bad news for you…
    Expectant and anxious parents-to-be: Is our baby going to be okay? Does she have a genetic disease?
    Doctor: Well, no, not a disease, not yet, but she is very likely to suffer from height-deficiency and obesity, and we know that leads to a lower quality of life. You don’t want her to suffer, do you?
    Expectant and anxious parents-to-be: But we’re short and fat, and we are okay, why would it be any different for our baby?
    Doctor: That’s where you are wrong. You aren’t okay. You might think you are, but based on your height and weight, you are actually very sick.

  17. Hi, this is a little off topic and I am not sure if this commercial is running nationwide or not. I cannot BELIEVE they allowed such an offensive commercial on TV. I seriously am thinking of finding this gym and protesting out front. Anyone who thinks it is right or fair to shame fat people and women into losing weight specifically to obtain a mate should be whacked upside their big ass meathead.

    Sorry, I cannot link, but PLEASE watch this commerical. Link it here! Send it to feministing.com….this has got to be one of the most offensive things I have ever seen.

  18. I think my short family has given me more grief for being short than anyone else.

    Replace “short” with “fat,” and you’ve got my family. We’re all short, too, but that was just never a big deal.

    Maybe I’m really lucky that being short has never affected my body image significantly, and I’ve never thought of it as a negative, except when I’m trying to reach something on a high shelf. I mean, sure, I’d love to know what it’s like to be tall, but I don’t mind being short at all.

    If I were a guy, that would almost certainly be a different story. And apparently it is for some women, too. But a few years ago, I asked a tall friend to pass me something from one of those blasted high shelves, and she made some crack about my height, then immediately felt HORRIBLE. She was apologizing for about 3 days, and I was just like, “Dude, I thought it was funny, and it did not offend me. I am really, really not sensitive about being short!”

    Which is probably because the kids at my school found better reasons to make fun of me.

  19. One last thing and I am totally running late this morning (it’s 8:16 am my time and I can’t use the internet for this at work) but I need to look at the study to see if they controlled for ethnicity. ‘Cause I’m sure RACISM has nothing to do with it.
    (Written by someone Short and Fat and Jewish, for gosh sakes)
    (I do know there are plenty of short fat white folks, too.)
    I’m also not offended by short comments/jokes.
    I actually made a “tall-ist” comment accidentally yesterday, complaining about sharing a swimming lane with this older tall fast swimming guy to a work colleague who is beautifully, wonderfully tall and I never remember that that’s something people might be self-conscious about. I definitely need to apologize today.

  20. Where’s my rack? I’m going a-stretchin’!

    I’m 5’6 now, but with 2.3 more inches, I could totally be a supermodel and president of the United States and bring about world piece.

    I’m on it, bitchez.

  21. But really — it’s such a perfect illustration of the fallacy of trying to use population health to CONTROL INDIVIDUALS, rather than looking for trends and seeking environmental causes for problems, as it was originally intended.

    wellroundedtype2–WOW! I have never understood this in quite this way before. That is an amazing observation and this type of misuse of population data in terms of thinking everyone needs to be “normal” or “average” seems to just be getting more and more common.

    I can’t believe the incredibly un-selfaware tone of the article. Some of the statements in it really do make it sound like they think people can add height to improve their health, or that we should go looking for ways to make this happen. Screw the individual. It’s almost scary how the language of the study authors seems to be trying to not-so-gently nudge society toward thinking it’s OK to judge and think less of short people, and toward short people being discontented about their natural stature. Artificial height-increasing strategies can’t be far behind. Kate, I too noted the irony of the fact that as people have better nutrition and get taller and longer-lived on average, they are also getting fatter (and still living longer on average!) Some discussions of weight/health issues I think are more murky but in a case like this it seems almost incredible that either the scientists or the journalists wouldn’t have made that connection and thought at least a little about whether obesity might then be just a tad overhyped as a health crisis.

    One of the study authors quoted is from Novo Nordisk. I wonder if they have anything to do with human growth hormone or growth treatments? Cynical minds want to know.

  22. Yes, Norvo Nordisk manufactures growth hormone. They specialize in hormone treatments like insulin, hormone replacement therapy, growth hormone, as well as treatments for hemophilia. They do plenty of good things with those treatments, but I guess they are looking to “grow” their market.
    And I’ll look up the nutrition/height relationship stuff at work and report back later.

  23. Ugh… I wish that were surprising. So that explains the tone they were trying to create in reporting their research, where we all move to Crazyland and it becomes normal to think that you can and should change your height (with help from their products, of course). The parallels to the weight-loss industry just keep piling up.

  24. Or “I agree with Kate” could have saved quite a few words in my last comment had I known we were posting at the same time. :D

  25. My late grandmother was 4’10, so she was shorter than I am. I remember watching Gilligan’s Island and commenting to her how I wish I could be as beautiful as Ginger and Marianne. She got pissed at me and insisted that while Ginger was beautiful, Marianne was only cute. A short woman can NEVER be beautiful, the best we can hope for is cute.

    Yes, my family was very, very neurotic and somewhat self-loathing.

  26. Whenever I read articles like this, all I can do is quote Mugatu from “Zoolander”: “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” There’s just no way for me to respond in a way that resembles logic, since they’re so free of it themselves.

  27. Wellroundedtype2, I have the same love for small spaces as you, except I’m 6′ tall. And it’s good I like small spaces, because pretty much every space is small for me.

    I have to wonder if the pressure to be Average or Normal is in some way related to the mass produced nature of our culture. Now that everything is made in HUGE quantities, everything is made for the average person, otherwise the it would be too expensive to manufacture.

    100 or more years ago finding clothing that fit would have been significantly less of a challenge since clothes were made to fit your body. Now if you aren’t the “average” body type nothing fits right. Cars are made with safety in mind for “average” people, Planes are built to accommodate average people. The el trains seats are apparently designed for an average butt.

    If you aren’t average then your pretty much up a creek, because it isn’t cost effective to manufacturer many different sizes, one size fits all is much cheaper, and if you aren’t that size, well… thats your problem then, isn’t it.

  28. Cars are made with safety in mind for “average” people,

    This fucking INFURIATES ME as both a short person and a feminist, because they’re actually made with safety in mind for average men.

    Which is why they had to learn the hard way that the first generation of airbags fucking decapitated people about, oh, my height.

  29. I am going to take this as parody, because my brain cannot compute it any other way. Honestly, it just goes to show how absurd the arguments against total strangers’ weights really are.

    I do have a friend who took growth hormone shots as a kid, though, apparently her body just did not have any natural HGH. So, yeah, there are legitimate uses (just like with anything), but they are limited.

    Though maybe us short people just don’t want to be tall hard enough or are secretly stooping over when nobody is looking.

  30. About a year ago, there was a study that claimed that shorter people live LONGER than taller people (I found a website that refers to this: http://www.shortsupport.org/Research/samaras.html ) and now I’m being told that shorter people die earlier because of social angst? *blink*
    Sooo…that means that tall people live as long as short people, because factors cancel each other out? WTF?

  31. Well, I’m 5’11.

    I spent my childhood and early teen years slouching (badly, it took physio to help me straighten back up) because I was so embarrassed about towering over my classmates (and teachers!).

    Apparently I should have stood tall and embraced the good health that would surely be coming to me!

    They must have skipped me when magically imbuing tall people with good health, though. I certainly could do without the coeliac disease and endometriosis, that’s for sure!

  32. That article really leaves me without words.

    Also, I’d never heard that Short People song before but I just read the lyrics and it cracked me up. But I’ve been lucky enough to never really have been mocked or put down for my height. Lots of good natured teasing (especially from my taller brother & sister and the tall guys I tend to date) but no mockery. And my short mom was too busy hating herself for being fat to worry about the fact that she was short, so I never internalised anything on that end either.

  33. The difference in script between “obesity epidemic” articles is there at the end, though. There is a warning that there shouldn’t be stigmatization of people who are shorter as that may make them feel worse than they do. This part is never included in articles on obesity.

    Given that I’m both the shorter and the fatter of the girls in my family, I guess I’m screwed. I’m off to console myself by making flagrant use of my tasty food license.

  34. ‘Course, if you give a post-pubertal human too much growth hormone, they just grow their jaw, nose, ears, hands, and feet (and, for some men, breasts.). It’s called iatrogenic acromegaly. Oh, and they may get oedema and nerve compression symptoms, diabetes, blood pressure abnormalities, sleep apnoea, heart disease, arthritis, and colon cancer.

    So we’d have to shoot ’em up young. Only 1 in 1000 kids will throw a hip, another 1 in 1000 will experience a buildup of pressure in the brain, and a few more will get niggling annoyances like pancreatitis, musculoskeletal problems, and death.

  35. Spins, sometimes it is, but in the same patronizing way — “now now, this doesn’t mean that you should be mean to fat people for their abnormality. Just recognize that they’re not going to be as healthy or happy as normal people, that’s all.”

    I see a lot of that faux-enlightened crap on blogs responding to the BMI project, too. Everyone gets all sanctimonious about how they wouldn’t discriminate against someone for being fat, they just know that it’s unhealthy and these people would rather be thin and really we pity them. That’s how I read this warning against stigmatization, too. “Now don’t go making them feel bad for their freakish and dangerous abnormality!”

  36. Sniper, let’s totally start Height Watchers.

    We’ll be rich! Rich, I tells ya!

    And… I wonder if the people interviewed for this story really are all about the money. Do you think they, and the weight-loss gurus, genuinely convince themselves they’re helping he pitiful short and/or fat people? Or do they just snicker when the interviews are published and order the servants to wash, dry, and press another bushel of greenbacks so they can have a nice roll?

  37. Fillyjonk, that’s exactly what I was going to say.

    And Lauredhel, thanks for the scoop on the dangers of growth hormone. You can just bet the marketing campaign in the States would be “Hey, it didn’t hurt Abe Lincoln!”

  38. Or do they just snicker when the interviews are published and order the servants to wash, dry, and press another bushel of greenbacks so they can have a nice roll?

    Bwah! I honestly have no idea. I mean, I like to think people sincerely believe they’re doing good, and don’t believe they’re missing the big picture just because of where their money comes from…. (This is how I console myself about Queen Latifah and Jenny Craig.) But then, I’m a total fucking pollyanna sometimes.

  39. I just read the article…wow! Yep, short people have nobody to love! And they used a picutre of Danny DeVito to sub for the “headless fatty” in obesity hyteria articles. He must be thrilled.

  40. And they used a picutre of Danny DeVito to sub for the “headless fatty” in obesity hyteria articles. He must be thrilled.

    Yeah, Rose, I found that especially interesting in light of an e-mail I got the other day from a reporter for a major news organization, which said (among other things):

    We often end up using the “headless fat people” shots to illustrate stories, because we rely on file photos and have to avoid implying that a specific person is the subject of the story

    I guess a picture of, say, John Goodman with the caption “John Goodman weighs more than the average American man” wouldn’t be quite as effective.

  41. “I’m posting right now about how people need to remember this article when they get bummed out by obesity crisis reporting, because the template for the article is exactly the fucking same.”

    The BBC is totally copying me!


    LOL…my “science” doesn’t match theirs, but then again, the “science” of the obesity “epidemic” doesn’t match real science either.

  42. From the article:

    Being short as an adult can be down to normal development or due to diseases such as growth hormone deficiency or Turner syndrome.

    Treatment for children with conditions such as these can increase their final height by 4-10cm (about 2-4in).

    Turners affects about 1 in 3000 girls, and being short is the least of it. Growth hormone deficiency has a variety of symptoms of which slow growth is only one.

    That leaves a lot of us who are just short because we inherited short genes from our short ancestors who apparently didn’t have the sense to mate with tall people. Or, in the case of my family, they did mate with tall people and the short genes apparently defeated the tall genes, probably by head-butting them in the balls. Oh, the pathology!

  43. Sniper: LOL, “head-butting them in the balls.” My genes must’ve; my father’s six-foot and I have an aunt who tops that, yet I take after my 5’1″ grandmother.

    It took god-knows-how-many doctors nearly fifteen years to “diagnose” me with “cyclical hypopituitarism…we think….” Methinks that’s what’s affecting my “health-related quality of life” (along with, y’know, my actual health) around here, not the fact that I buy the short pants.

    But I’ll join Height Watchers just to say I have. Is there a points system? I have as much exercise as I want as long as it’s stretching, perhaps?

  44. I have as much exercise as I want as long as it’s stretching, perhaps?

    I have actually heard people say that yoga can make you an inch taller.

    Hasn’t worked for me yet, but here’s hoping. *eyeroll*

  45. I have actually heard people say that yoga can make you an inch taller.

    Good God! If there’s only the slight possibility that this is true then we should definitely mandate yoga in public schools to fight the shortness. Perhaps we could take funding away from art, music, and technology courses and institute a “Drop Everything and Stretch” program. Maybe Scholastic could come up with a computer game and a series of books about bad, lazy, short kids who don’t do their yoga.

  46. It’s like they keep throwing genetics (Propensities or higher ) out the window. GENETICS DON’T MEAN SHIT IN APPERANCE AND DAT APPERANCE DETERMINES UR DISEASE LEVEL LOLOLOLOLOLOLZZZZ!!! ITZ ALL LIFESTYLE LULZ!!!

    As for the anti-gym: I had no idea they were going to make a commercial. They won’t get my money: Unless I get sued for side kicking one of their employees in the jaw. *Hapkido Stance* BRING IT ON!! :D

  47. KH, the other thing about cars and safety designed for men? Don’t have big boobs because if you do, that damned seatbelt/shoulder harness is going to decapitate you in a serious wreck. I had to buy one of those clip-on thing-a-ma-jigs to keep the shoulder harness from hitting my neck, which means every time I get in my minivan, I have to fiddle with the damned thing to get it adjusted properly. And it’s plastic, FFS, so how well is it going to hold up in a crash when it’s trying to keep my almost-400 lb body in place? And I’m not short, I’m 5′ 8″, which is considered sorta kinda maybe tall for a woman (well, tall for a woman my age anyway, which is 54).
    Maybe the auto industry is in cahoots with the medical profession and pharmaceutical companies in trying to get rid of short people and fat people?

  48. I have actually heard people say that yoga can make you an inch taller.

    Heard the same thing about ballet, too. So far, no dice. I look longer from all the lean-stretchy-muscle-business, but that’s not the same thing.

    My new knee-high boots with the giant heels, however, are working exactly as promised. :D

  49. You know, part of the problem is the ready availability of clothes for short people. I mean, c’mon, entire sections of stores for petites? And pants in “Short” inseam lengths?

    Maybe if we stopped catering to all those short people, they’d just get taller already.

  50. God dammit! I suppose now we’re all going to have to start a short-acceptance movement as well, huh?

    Sheesh! This is getting ridiculous. Soon I’ll have to make time for not only the fat acceptance movement, and the short acceptance movement, but also the bespectacled acceptance movement, and the people-who-like-to-read-and-use-big-words acceptance movement (formerly the Nerd Acceptance Movement, but name changed due to negative word connotation, not to mention the lawsuit from Bill Gates)… I won’t have time for anything else anymore!

  51. You know, part of the problem is the ready availability of clothes for short people. I mean, c’mon, entire sections of stores for petites?

    And have you seen the length of some of the pants they’re marketing to OUR CHILDREN? It’s appalling!

  52. I will complain about pant lengths. I’m 5’4″ so, I am the last height range for petites….so sometimes petite pants are too short and DEFINITELY end up too short if they shrink. But “regular” lengths ranging from a 32″-33″ inseam are too long and I am forced to either tailor the pants or wear 3″-4″ heels.

    It’s all a conspiracy!

    What about us folks that aren’t quite petite but aren’t necessarily regular either?

  53. What about us folks that aren’t quite petite but aren’t necessarily regular either?

    What about those of us who are too short for the petites? I’m 5’1 but am very long waisted. Regular pants are too long even with the 4″ heels, petite pants are too long in flats, but too short with the heels… argh! I’m getting a sewing machine for Christmas and I’m totally going to start making my own clothes.

  54. What about us folks that aren’t quite petite but aren’t necessarily regular either?

    What about those of us who are too short for the petites?

    I think the answer to these questions is that you, like the rest of us, have no reason to live. Or rather, “ain’t got no reason to live.”

  55. Sniper, your “Drop Everything and Stretch” program killed me dead.

    (Which is surprising, since I’m 5’7″ and not fat! I should have lived forever!)

  56. I am here to bring you all the secret of fulfilling your height potential. You’ll never have to have someone help you get stuff off the shelf again. Step stools, who needs em!? Stuck in a crowd? Just look over there heads. And it is SO EASY!

    With my Miracle Grow system, there are no time consuming stretches, no injections, no point system. Forget Height Watchersthe Miracle Grow system really works, and its easy too! All you have to do is follow my easy steps and you will fulfill your height potential!!

    With our special “Miracle Grow” formula you’ll be towering over your friends in no time! For only 10 payments of 199.99 I will share my secret to tallness with you. It’s so easy!

    (No seriously, when I was 3, I ate plant food, and that’s how I got this tall. )

  57. (No seriously, when I was 3, I ate plant food, and that’s how I got this tall. )


    Guess I probably shouldn’t have started drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes at 3, huh?

    (I’M KIDDING. I waited, like, a whole decade after that.)

  58. Funny, nowhere in the article does it mention that adding height would END THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC, because after all, if we could all just add 2-3 inches to our heights, many would move out of BMI “overweight” territory into “normal.”

    Problem solved.


  59. The BBC health news website is NUTSO. And I feel qualified to say so, as someone well-versed in nutso-ness.

    ‘Fat scan’ shows up health risk
    Smoking ban ‘reduces heart risk’
    Solo living ‘doubles heart risk’
    Heart death risk higher in north
    Short legs ‘a heart risk’
    Small babies ‘don’t become high-flyers’
    Slow growers ‘at blood pressure risk’

    Every. Single. Item. (just about) has something about how either weight loss is the cure for everything, or how pregnant women are imbeciles and everything they do is wrong for their baby. And also, grow taller but especially have long legs, don’t live alone, don’t grow too slowly, and don’t live in the north.

    It’s like a game of Health Calvinball.

  60. I recently attended a lecture from the founder of a group called Kids at Hope. http://www.kidsathope.org/

    He was telling us that he realized that we had become a risk based society, and all kids are now “at-risk”. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Instead, he promotes that all kids should be “at-hope”. Everyone has something to contribute, even the shorties and fatties…

    What a concept- accepting everyone.

  61. I want in on the Height Watchers program, because I want to do the Kirstie Alley style magazine cover. Only captioned “I’M STILL GAINING!”

  62. I’m 4′ 11″. I’ve always been short–I’m not one of those women who just never had that last one or two growth spurts. I got harassed for my height at school, and didn’t more or less calm down about the subject until I was 35 or so.

    I *hated* Newman’s “Short People”–aside from the earlier teasing there was that little echo of Nazi eliminationism. However, it did seem to me that there was less in the way of public short jokes after that song, so it may have served its purpose.

    Does it occur to anyone that if height confers status, then trying to improve people’s lives by making them taller is just a pointless arms (legs?) race?

  63. My husband (6ft 6in) says that people just don’t put enough effort into growing – it’s a skill and you have to spend a long time mastering it. He may not have got much of an education as a result of all the time he spent growing, but he did grow tall and that’s what counts.

    He says y’all are just not trying hard enough.

  64. Kate in England, I bet your husband was always cutting out early from work and skipping meetings to grow, right? He’s got his priorities straight!

  65. As a scientist, a short person, a fat person, and someone who has more than one rational brain cell, I cannot even begin to deconstruct this because it’s so many levels of wrong. This is the kind of thing that leaves me sputtering and helpless from the immense weight of the wrongitude.

    That said, I have an anecdote that illustrates the dual points of Kate. A couple of years ago I went to a family reunion of my mom’s side of the family. These were all people I had never met in my life – they all lived far away from me. My dad’s family were the ones I spent most of my time with, and compared to them I always felt short and dumpy (even when I was thin).
    I got to the reunion location, by myself, and was a bit worried as to if I’d know if I was in the right place or not since I didn’t have anyone to recognize. I walked in the door, and was met with the sight of a roomful of people who were almost all right around my height (5’2″), and most of whom I could have easily easily swapped clothes with. Huzzah for genetics!

  66. Hi Kate!
    Loved this story on Shakesville so much I had to come over here and tell you. I am short (I prefer Diminutive-American) and Hubby is tall (actually Big and Tall) and I hope Monkey and Pumpkin get their height genes from him. Because I know full well how cruel other kids and even adults can be and how difficult it can be to function in a world built for taller people. And how it feels to never be taken seriously, to be ignored or condescended to by people in customer dis-service, to be dismissed by the world at large. But I keep that hope to myself, because I know first-hand how those little comments by parents can make children feel less-than and worthless. If either grows to less than average height I will make damn sure that they know that they are not somehow flawed because of it.

  67. “(Which is surprising, since I’m 5′7″ and not fat! I should have lived forever!)”

    TALL!! I’m gonna live forever!!

    Baaaaaby remember my name!!!

  68. “It’s like a game of Health Calvinball.”

    YES! Exactly!

    But I have to admit, I’m so brainwashed and self-blaming (like most women my age) that I read something like this and actually feel a pang of regret. I’m short and fat and married to a tall, skinny man. I actually worried about leaving him early, then remembered that in terms of actual cholesterol numbers and whatnot, I’m the healthy one… and either one of us could be hit by a truck tomorrow anyway.

  69. Also, Sniper, if we’re just going by statistics, he’s likely to die earlier anyway. Whatever you lose by being short and fat, you gain back by being female. :)

  70. “We should build a website. Who’s good at that?”

    I have pretty good HTML and CSS skills. I’d totally be for helping to make such a site. XD

    And apparently you have to be REALLY tall because at my slightly-above-average-height of 5’6 1/2″ I’m in pretty poor health at the moment. And I’m likely going to die young too as the vast majority of my family members didn’t make it to their 70th birthday.

    I know a girl who’s 5’5″ and cries “I hate being short!” o.O

  71. You know, if I hadn’t read this enlightened piece of scientific wonder, I would never have been able to figure out what my life (and my spouse’s!) has been lacking. It’s been height all along!!

    It’s wondrous. If I only had an extra, oh say, 5 inches, I’d be well within the healthy BMI and I’d actually have a torso instead of my hips meeting up with my boobs. And my husband would be “normal” and would never have to be the shortest male in the room (outside of any 8 year olds present, of course).

    Just think. All I have to do is change my genetics, break and lengthen a few bones, and stretch out my muscular structure and I’m set. And I’ll be happy and healthy at last! As a bonus, altering my genetic code and making myself taller will also certainly impact my fatness, making me thin and socially acceptable. It’s a win-win. Oh fabjous day, calloo, callay!!

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