In life’s lottery, I drew the short straw—5 feet 2 inches short, to be exact. It’s just 2 inches shorter than the average American woman, but it sometimes feels as though it might as well be a mile. Supermarket shelves are always a little too high, and more than a few bathroom mirrors capture me starting at the scalp. I factor in the cost of shortening pants when I shop for clothes. As a kid, I learned to tolerate people constantly pointing out my pint-size stature, and that pools would feel deep well before the deep end. As an adult, I got used to driving with the steering wheel in my lap and to arriving early at standing-only concerts. It’s just what smaller people do to adapt to an average person–size world. Before the 5-foot-7 Mark Zuckerberg—2 inches shorter than the typical U.S. man—got grilled by lawmakers this week, his team quietly placed a 4-inch cushion on his chair. He’s honestly never seemed so relatable. The guy has $63 billion in the bank, but all he wants is to look a little bigger.
And why wouldn’t he? We revere tallness. Tall people, particularly men, are paid higher salaries; are considered more attractive, more intelligent, and healthier; and are more likely to get elected or promoted. Studies have suggested they might even live longer. But as Nicholas Kulish writes in The Last Word (p. 40), being taller than the average human isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Clocking in at 6-foot-8, Kulish says he’s spent much of his life wanting to shrink. After about 6-foot-3, he writes, “every inch takes you further from attractive and deeper into a realm of the freakish, toward human spectacle.” He goes through life making a series of silent adjustments every day—from putting up with strangers’ constant jokes to avoiding roller coasters and pants shopping (relatable!). I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be tall. Turns out the air up there is a lot like the air down here.
Editor-in-chief: William Falk
Managing editors: Theunis Bates, Carolyn O’Hara
EVP, publisher: John Guehl
Sales development director: Samuel Homburger
Chief operating & financial officer: Kevin E. Morgan
Adviser: Ian Leggett
U.K. founding editor: Jolyon Connell
Company founder: Felix Dennis
Visit us at TheWeek.com.