Photo Credit: Gabriel Bouys/Getty
I was a tall girl growing up. Back row of dance class, back row for pictures, desperate for jeans that were long enough to cover my (c)ankles. I swore I would never, ever, ever date a guy who was shorter than me, let alone thinner than me. Images of Bea Arthur towering over Estelle Getty colored my perception of what I must look like when standing next to petite girlfriends…no way was I going to risk hulking over a 5’6” boyfriend.
Until I did. My freshman year of college, I met my first love, a nice Irish Catholic boy who stood about two inches shorter than me in bare feet. By that point I’d grown into my 5’11”-ness and relished being a tall drink of water. Carrying on with a guy who was 5’8” didn’t make me feel like the circus freak or sideshow monster I thought it would.
My next serious boyfriend was the same height as the first (and was also born and raised in the same small Wisconsin town. I’m sure that netted me a good reputation!) and again, there was no problem. His previous girlfriend had actually been part of a team of star high school basketball-playing sisters affectionately referred to as the Twin Towers. Clearly, he didn’t have an issue with my height, so why should I?
In Hollywood, there have been plenty of Tall Lady/Short Man couples – Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman (pre-divorce), Mick Jagger and designer L'Wren Scott, Penny Lancaster and Rod Stewart, Tom Cruise and…anyone. Last week, I saw a photo of musician Jamie Callum and model Sophie Dahl, where Dahl looked positively Amazonian compared to her apparent Lilliputian boyfriend. “She looks like she might just pick him up by the scruff of his neck and eat him for a snack!” I thought. But shame on me – why would I throw stones when I live in a house with floor-to-ceiling glass windows? And who says the men has to be bigger or taller? Great things come in small packages (remember him?); just because a guy is 5’5” doesn’t mean he isn’t as smart and funny and capable and talented as his brother who’s 6’1”. And yet, in our society, we make snap judgments about people based on their size ALL THE TIME:
Fat? Must be lazy.
Skinny? Must starve herself.
Busty? Must be easy.
Husky, big-boned woman? Must be a lesbian.
Muscle-bound? Must be a juiced-up, meathead.
Just last month, Duke University research conducted on 22,000 online daters showed just how important height is to women when searching out a mate: A 5’9” man needs to make $30,000 more than a 5’10” guy to be as successful in the dating pool.
(Before you go feeling all sorry for the men, though, you should know that this study also revealed men hold a strong preference for women with a body mass index of 18 or 19 (A 5’6” woman would need to weigh 115 to fit that bill). This research is slated to be published in the International Journal of Duh.
My husband happens to be about a half-inch taller than me when we stand nose-to-nose in socks. That said, I wear heels on a regular basis; at an April wedding I’m standing up in, I’ll be sporting 3.5-inch purple stilettos, propelling me to the WNBA-worthy height of 6’3”. Only one man in the wedding party is tall enough to walk me down the aisle (thanks, Joe!) Though this’ll be a nice departure from another wedding I stood up in last summer, where I, as the Matron of Honor, stood next to my friend’s Maid of Honor sis, who’s about 4’10”, 96 pounds, it hardly matters in the grand scheme of things. What matters is I am confident in my height, and THAT’S what people see when I come their way.
That, and a really long pair of legs.