Heightism is Not a Social Construct but an Irrepressible Bias Based on Natural Instinct
I am probably going to be tarred and feather for this claim by certain people but I will make just one claim which is this, the socio-anthropological term “heightism” is not a social construct but an irrepressible bias based on natural instinct.
This claim I am making would go directly against many people who might be below average in height of the overall group that they are in. To defend their own self image of their worth as a human being, they would obviously reject that concept and counterclaim that heightism is a social construct.
I was recently looking at the website traffic that is coming to this website and noticed that a few Reddit threads were linking back to this website. It seems that some people in the Short category were using a few older posts to validate some point they were trying to make about the science of height and growth. It is something that is created by the individuals of a specific culture to be biased against and ridicule the shorter individuals of the society, most specifically the male members. I had to disagree. (The thread was titled “Heightism and Height Scams“)
One person who commented made the exact quote that heightism is a social construct. That person calls himself Goefrrey. Only recently did I found out about the 1000+ post tumbler website started by a him (Geoffrey Arnold). He wrote two short pieces called “Is Height Discrimination Natural?” and “Heightism is a Social Construct based in Gender Norms”
Why I think Heightism is an Unconscious Natural Instinct
If heightism was indeed some type of social construct, wouldn’t it then be a social phenomena that is prevalent in only certain countries and cultures. So far I have not met one single culture or society which had the opposite opinion, which is that the smaller percentage people of a society is better looking. Can you name one culture that does that?
If 99% of the people in a culture believes in something, doesn’t that sort of imply that it might be real? Of course, we could counter that argument with the curious case of North Korea. It is believed that maybe 98-99% of all the people in North Korea believes that Kim Il Sung is a real god and their national hero which they go crazy for. If 99% of the people in that small nation and society believes that he is (or was) a type of deity, does that mean that he is a god? They have no connection to the other countries outside of it. They don’t know better. Based on lack of knowledge which is the result of bad luck in the genetic lottery for being born in the country of North Korea and its regime in the last 60 years, the political state and the person desires of one despotic dictator might have the power to override even some basic natural laws. Maybe the late Kim Jong Il might have some ability to remove the thinking of almost everyone in his society. Maybe at some point due to his own inferior complex of short height, he made some crazy decree that smaller height people (around his height of probably 5′ 2″ ) was the best height. To align the malnutrition problem and stunted growth problem with national pride, he just might have the ability to convert the majority’s peoples mind to believe that being shorter is better than being taller.
We are aware of the other Communist Regimen, of the People’s Republic of China. For about 10-20 years during national zealot on the need to establish equality for all people, there was a time when being too tall was considered a bad thing. If you were taller than your peers, it was an indication that maybe you were trying to show off to other people even when you are not trying to. Based on communist principles of requiring everyone to be more or less equal, naturally growing up taller would have been frowned upon.
Then again, I think at this point we can say that the natural tendency of human beings is to shift towards capitalist societies, not communist societies. Throughout history, there has always been inequality of some form or another. The most blatant example of inequality is economic inequality. Over time, there will always be a few people in the minority which have the right combination of intelligence, drive, worth ethic, and luck to push them to the higher echelon of their respective societies.
Due to the way that human societies over time are almost guaranteed to drift into a society of divided classes with capitalism working its invisible hand (as stated by Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations book), and also based on the human will to strive, succeed, and become greedy, as well as to hoard their wealth and not wanting to share the wealth they had accumulated over the years of hard work with other people who chose not to put in as much effort or was lazy, it would make sense that the communistic ideal would never work. It is unnatural.
Only communist societies would ever try to negate and reprogram a human to believe that taller is not better. Of course we have sort of proved based on the negative, non-altruistic tendencies in the dark recesses of the human psyche, that communism can never work in the long run since they run counter to what we are naturally responsive to. That means that left on its own to make up its own judgements and thoughts about how the world and nature works, the human mind to go back to its default embedded programming from over million years of evolution, the majority of every society will believe that being taller is better than being shorter (if of course you manage to hold all the other factors and parameter in the system you are analyzing constant)
The Case Based on The Distribution & Prevalence of Heightism
Heightism is more than just an American (USA), Canadian, Australian, or European social convention. In my own travels throughout the Western Modern world and then traveling to the countries to the East, Asia, Japan, South Korea, and China, every single nation and culture seems to prize tall stature and believe that taller people are better looking. Give a survey to 100 young females on what the height standard they would want in a male partner and probably 90-95% of them would want the male companion to be in the taller group from simple classifications and categorizations.
I have written at least 3-4 post before showing just how much effort people of these East Asian countries are putting to make themselves taller or trying to make their own children slightly taller. We might be tempted to ask whether something like height is something worth putting so much of their mental energy and effort. We could argue that unlike suffering some type of medical disorder which might inflict great pain through the body, being not as tall we other people would not cause any type of real physical pain to the individual.
Based on the competitiveness of the world, and how many people are in this world, it is almost a sort of given that people are going to want to express their own individuality and uniqueness by comparing themselves to others to find something about themselves which sets them apart from others in a positive way. One of the easiest ways to show that one is (supposedly) intrinsically better than another person is comparing whose top of the head is further away from the level ground which they both stand on. Remember that no matter where we go on this planet, there is a downward force called gravity pushing every single cell in our body downwards. Our measured height is a way for the individual organism to pronounce their rejection in being pushed down into the dirt/ground by this most fundamental of universal forces.
It might be argued that the anthropometric measurement is sort of arbitrary and that measuring the top of one’s head (or cranial bone) to the feet is a very strange human derived concept. Maybe height is just a word we use to describe a measurement that doesn’t really translate into any type of real benefit for any average person living their life. If both of the people use the same measuring stick or standard, then a comparison of two human beings can be done. However, we have seen already that stunted growth is a result of some illness or disorder. Whereas there are hundreds of different types of diseases that can cause the person to become shorter and develop stunted growth, there is a very few diseases that makes a person become taller than average or develop an accelerated rate of growth. Most anthropologists with ecologists have agreed that the best indicator of a country’s overall health is from looking at their average height. Apparently the height of a country is a very good indicator on the overall health of the people living there. This shows that increased height does have a real correlation to an increase in the increase of the quality of life, as least for a nation overall. The people living in Sweden have a better quality of life than the people of say China and is obvious from looking at the height differences in the two countries.
We as a species realize that a lot of our emotional and mental energy and suffering is caused from constantly comparing ourselves to other people. Being tall or rich or beautiful is a concept that is based on relativity. Being 6 feet tall in India is big but in Norway it is just average. Making $100,000 a year in the Philippines makes you rich but to do that in Singapore makes you vey average. However, we hope that the reader understands the principle of relativity. The unique way that people judge their own place in the world is not based on absolute standards, but relative standards which can change (increase and decrease) over time.
This is not just some type of American and East Asian phenomena. The largest demographic to this website is from the countries of India and Philippines. I get bombarded by messages everyday from hundreds of young Indian and Filipino teenagers asking me how to help become taller. One of the most popular posts I have ever written which has gotten the most comments and shares was the review on the Gloxi Height Enhancer Drink (Read the review here). Gloxi has been something that has been advertised on TV in the Philippines as a height increase drink for years but the local Filipinos don’t realize that the drink is made in Taiwan. I found it absolutely despicable that people of one Asian countries would manufacture an obviously useless drink to another Asian country to take advantage of their ethnic features. Probably some guy in East Asia realized that the people in Southeast Asia were of a shorter height than them and were not internet savy yet so they used the people’s ignorance of science to get them to buy strange drinks which promises a dream which can never come true. It seems that this belief in tall stature being better is a social phenomena that is experience throughout the entire continent of Asia.
So what about africa? I am reminded of the genocide that happened in Rwanda between the Hutus and the Tutsis. It seems that the two different groups of ethnicities which lived in the same geopolitical state which we call a country or nation were of a bipolar distribution of heights. The Hutus were the majority and the Tutsi were the minority. They spoke the same language and lived next to each other. The only difference were in the body sizes. From the BBC News article I quote the following “…Tutsis are often taller and thinner than Hutus, with some saying their origins lie in Ethiopia”. Apparently when the Belgians first came over for colonialism, they decided to classify the ethnic tribes. By some default reasons, they just decided to say that the Tutsis were the better of the two ethnicities, with no real reason except that they were taller in body size. Obviously that Tutsis were happy with it and they got many different economic privileges for decades until the Hutus became very resentful of the differences. The picture to the right was found from the blog post “The Hutu’s and the Tutsi’s and Belgium Stereotyping“. It seems that even in Africa the belief in taller people being somehow better is also present, although we are fully aware that it was the Belgians who were the original judges on which tribes were deemed by default to be better or more attractive.
How about South America? Again, let’s look at the viewpoints of the natives which lived there before outside influences. The most obvious example is of the legendary white-skinned cloud people called the Chachapoyas. (source). For centuries these people were neighbors to the Incans and the Incans admired them for their tall stature and light skin color.
“The women of the Chachapoya were much prized by the Incas as they were tall and fair skinned. The Chronicler Pedro Cieza de León offers wrote of the Chachapoyas. “They are the whitest and most handsome of all the people that I have seen in Indies, and their wives were so beautiful that because of their gentleness, many of them deserved to be the Incas’ wives and to also be taken to the Sun Temple.”
While I am not going to debate where humans also have some type of natural affinity for lighter skin color and have always thought that lighter skin is more attractive (That is a discussion for other types of websites), I have no doubt that the feature of being of tall stature of this particular tribe in the native South America is something that that shorter Incans admired greatly. So even in native tribes in South American before any type of European Influence, the local also thought that tall stature is something that is admired.
My Main Point
This bias or unconscious preference to project a more positive image on taller people in 99.9% of all cultures and societies in the world shows that that it is NOT something that was programmed into us by our parents or teachers in grade school.
I don’t think we can un-program or overwrite this type of programming, because it is part of our reptilian brain system. It is unconscious, it is natural, it is something that would be extremely hard to reprogram. I liken this situation to the metaphor of computer software and hardware. Whereas culture is like the software which you can change and rewrite by changing source code of a program, the hardware is something you can’t do without taking a manual, hands on approach through real manipulation using mechanical manipulation. If we treat the brain as the computer, then the software is the ideas, believes, and values in a person. We can over time change that part. The actual anatomy and physiology of the brain is the hardware. There is no way that we can use software (ie hypnosis) to change the hardware. We can change the location of the medulla using positive affirmations. To change the actual brain, you would need surgery tools to cut and saw before moving the physical parts and components around.
Obviously, this preference may be based on natural laws, but it is not a real law as defined by science. In Science actually there is almost no “Laws” per se, but theories. Just like Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and Newton’s Theory of Gravity and Eintein’s Theory of Relativity, it is very hard for scientists to claim anything to be a real law. Off of the top of my head, I know of only two real scientific laws, which are actually related to each other. They are the 1st law of thermodynamics, and the 2nd law of thermodynamics. The first law states that energy can never be lost or increase, but only changed between different types. The second one says that the entropy or disorder in a the examined system will only increase over time. Those are laws. This claim I make is that the height preference is a natural law, like the natural law of sexuality. If you were going to make a bet, 95-99%% of the time, you would be right about going with the taller person since everyone else would agree based on some natural instinctual embedded programming.
Analogously, we can say that this natural law for humans to almost always lean towards the taller people in any group is a very good rule of thumb which is similar to sexuality. You are not going to have a society which is 100% heterosexual. There is always going to be a minority of people who are homosexual, which can not be changed but based on rules of statistical probability. Straight people however will always make up the majority of a culture, around 95% or face extinction from a lack of mating and reproduction. Similarly, we can say the same thing about people’s preferences towards stature. Maybe there might be 2-4% of any society which actually prefers shorter statured individuals, but the majority, and a very large majority of the people will always choose the individuals in the group which are taller than average.
The best example is using height or size to talk about different types of living beings. Centuries ago the Greeks would describe their gods as being of immense sizes. Beyond the greek gods, there were Titans. Titans were of gigantic sizes and because of their size alone, they were given through mental projection immense strength, with so much power that they could compete with the gods.
Humans do not create gods to worship who are described as 6 inch tall dolls. When we talk about greater and more powerful beings, we almost always say that they are of immense height and size. We unconscious give the gods we make up in our head great height and size so that we can worship them. Would we really bow down to a god which appeared and was 6 inches tall? Would we still be afraid of an extraterrestrial species after first contact if they turned out to be just 2 feet in height?
Size is not everything, but it does mean a lot. For most humans size did mean a whole lot. Let’s stop lying to ourselves and say that heightism is a social construct. It is not.
I have still not found one society which believes that the shorter individuals are better than the taller ones.
The following excerpts I have italicized to indicate that they are quotes from other people on the thread board. (The other thread the following lines are taken from are at “MMT leg lengthening forum admin Apotheosis exposed and caught deceiving forum members…“)
“…All the more to me because I’ve decided on the surgery. Now this is something I can’t believe. I seem to have lost trust in humanity. The humanity that made me feel inferior because I’m short, the humanity that tries to take advantage of that in so base a way…”
“…western society as it stand right now just doesn’t like short men. We can argue until we are blue in the face about confidence and having a great self image and improving what we can change but it doesn’t stop the stigma thats going to be there. Of course this doesn’t mean you crawl into a hole and die…”
“…The problem is completely social…”
If I was to try to summarize all these thoughts that they are putting down, what these person are trying to say is sort of this type of mental viewpoint on the world.
“…the world is out to get me. In some way, maybe over the centuries of selective indoctrination of the country/culture I was born/grew up into, most of the people in my group/society have made up some type of institutionalized bias against me and people of my kind and they are all in some way (maybe not knowingly) working to put me down so that I would crater to the social pressure and develop a bad self image of myself…. Well I am going to be stubborn and resist it since I know that I am at least smarter than them. They are stupid and ignorant, I am not”.
So they make everything about themselves, and how they are being punished and being short changed in the world. They talk about how unfair it is that they have been inflicted with some type of feature that they have no control over and can’t do anything about.
Maybe also in the back of their mind somewhere they think that because they had a very tough and mentally scarring childhood from school bullies and being lonely with no friends or lack of relationship experience, they have somehow “had it worse” than other people. Because of their increased exposure to pain and suffering, that somehow automatically translates to mean that they are somehow a tougher person or stronger person than another person who didn’t have to go through what they had to go through. They think that the world is out to get them.
The truth is that most people are NOT out to get them just because they might be shorter than average. Only a small minority of people in the world ever care enough to even say hi, much less make the effort to do something to you. The truth is that most people just don’t care about the individual, or the phenomena a person might be so passionate about.
I remember a very revealing lengthy poetic quote along the lines of …
- “When I was younger I was always worried about what other people thought about me.
- When I got older I decided to do my own thing and stopped caring about what other people thought about me.
- Now that I am close to the end of my life, I finally realize now that all that time, nobody was thinking about me. They were too busy thinking about about themselves. They were worrying about what other people thought about them”
The 2nd thing that we need to do is to accept the way that the world, the universe, nature, reality, or existence really operate. Most of us are fully aware that the world is not flat and that the Earth is NOT at the center of the universe. We are not special or our species is not that species. We can no longer stay ignorant because we have already drank from the cup of knowledge. We can;t go back and pretend that we can make up childhood stories and fantasies on how we wish the world would operate. It just doesn’t happen that way.
Instead of writing 10,000+ word discussion post on online threads on Reddit and support groups discussing the philosophical, social, or psychological ramifications of what it means to be shorter than average in one’s society, let’s just swallow this hard pill and do something else with our lives.
Instead of venting, and complaining about how the world is unfair and forcing you to play this game we call life at some obvious disadvantage, we should just take action and try to do something about it. You can save your money to get limb lengthening surgery to make yourselves 3-4 inches taller. If you want 2 feet of increased height, then go in for 5 consecutive surgeries. Those things will hurt a lot and take about 1 year each to do as well as $50-$100,000 each but I know plenty of people who became millionaires in their early 20s and retired. There are people who are short, but they have the resources to change their bodies if they really wanted it bad enough. If you wanted something bad enough, even to become taller, you can get it. You just have to be willing to pay the price for achieving your intended goals. It is just that for our specific purposes, the price we have to pay even for 2-3 inches of extra height can be quite high.
I decided to take a full year and a half out of my life to try to do something about it. This website is my work and effort in creating a resource for people to read and give them a real, decent in finding some type of solution. Sure, maybe at the very end of all of our research and studies we find NOTHING, but that is sort of like life. In the end we all have to die and be pushed in the nothingness and complete emptiness of death eventually. Eventually all of our efforts and work is in vain. We are lost in time and history as people generations from now forget who we were and our gravestone is covered over to make construction for new buildings. In the time we do have on this planet and living this life, let’s try to do something cool.
The video below is the famous speech that Rocky gave to his son in the 6th Rocky movie.
The Issue Over Cognitive Dissonance, Self Rationalization, and Ego Protection
I don’t know anyone who has not let their ego become their master the majority of the time. Our ego is what we are often protecting when we get into any type of argument or fight with another person. I say that we should stop with protecting our ego and just stop fighting the way that the world really works. We can try to write another 10,000 posts trying to argue our point, but that is not going to change anyone’s mind. The best we could do is that maybe after they finish reading our posts, they take 2-3 minutes to stop doing what they intended to do and just think about the implications of what we said.
What I would ask everyone to do is just stop bullshitting themselves, drop the ego for just this once, and just look at the world as it really is. We need to stop all the mental masturbation being done on threads on internet forums. We need to stop trying to use cognitive dissonance and justifications and rationalizations to protect our egos. Accept that height is important, and sometimes that is all that is needed.