Show A Little Respect!
Disrespect toward short people is widely socially accepted as perfectly normal and acceptable. Both the regular media (TV, movies, magazines and newspapers) and social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are full of countless examples of such cultural height discrimination (see the countless examples documented by Support For the Short).
Even in day-to-day interactions, adults who consider themselves to be mature and kind people, find it socially appropriate to tease other adults, even complete strangers, about their height. People do not consider it impolite to make comments such as “Wow, you are so short!” when they would never consider saying to an obese person “Wow, you are so fat!” or to an African-American person “Wow, you are so black!” It seems to be socially permissible to point out the most obvious characteristic about a short person – their height – as though the short person had no idea.
Even people who are intelligent and highly educated find short jokes to be humorous. They do not consider it rude to violate a short person’s space by reaching for things over their head, or even worse, patting their head, as they would a pet or a child. Even such seemingly innocuous comments as “Sorry, I didn’t even see you down there” are disrespectful. How can a short person be too low to be visible when a child, a disabled person in a wheelchair or an elderly person would not be? We so casually express our disrespect toward short people that we do not even realize we are doing it.
You are probably thinking to yourself that short people are overly sensitive about this. Everyone gets teased about something. It is all good-natured fun. What is the big deal? Why don’t they stop whining and get a better sense of humor? Life isn’t fair. Why don’t they just learn to accept their lot in life?
While it may be true that most people are teased at some point in their life for some physical attribute or another, for short people, the teasing does not end after high school. It continues through adulthood when most other adults no longer make fun of people for being fat or having overly large noses or protruding ears. Even those of us who are otherwise sensitive about how a joke may hurt someone’s feelings, assume that jokes about short stature are not offensive. When it comes to short people, many of us don’t think that it is disrespectful to call people names or make comments about a physical trait that can’t be changed.
Incidents like these are not innocuous. Just like name-calling based on other physical features is considered impolite and unacceptable, so should it be when based on height. We no longer expect women, racial minorities, obese and disabled people to laugh it off when being put down and humiliated. Why do we expect short people to do so? Why is such disrespect toward short people tolerated and accepted in our culture while disrespect against others is not? Why should short people just quietly accept this current state of affairs instead of trying to fight against it?