I’m a Short Guy

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It sucks to be a short man, and no one wants to hear Allan Mott complain about it.

As contrary as the notion is to everything we know about the universe, there was a point in my life where I understood what it was like to be a Justin — be it of the Timberlake or Bieber variety.

Screen-Shot-2012-10-26-at-11.04.37-AM2It happened whenever I stepped out onto the school playground at recess. As soon as I appeared the older girls would shriek with delight and chase me until I couldn’t run anymore. When they finally caught me I would then receive a big hug and sometimes a kiss on the cheek before finally being set free to play or be chased by another groupie.

I was 5 and I was fucking adorable. The tiniest kid — boy or girl — at Mee-Yah-Noh Elementary, I looked more like a doll than a typical kindergartener.

Even at that age I appreciated how my size caused people to treat me differently. What I didn’t know was that the positive attention I enjoyed that year would quickly vanish and be replaced by something far less desirable.

Turns out, I peaked before Grade One and only had the whole rest of my life to live.




The truth is, from a genetic standpoint I never had a snowball’s chance. My mom is 4’11 ½” and my dad is 5’4”. The odds of my ever winning the 6’4” lottery were only slightly less than my becoming the first person to kill a dinosaur with a slingshot on Saturn’s third moon.

I spent my young life being told that our pediatrician estimated I’d end up making it to 5’6”, maybe 5’8” if I was lucky, which was still short, but not comically so. But it turned out that quack was way off and I stopped gaining inches not long after my 13th birthday. It was Grade Eight and I had permanently reached my lifelong summit of 5’2” — just three inches above the official medical classification of dwarf or little person.

In the 23 years that have passed since then, I’ve come to two major conclusions about being a short man in North American society and they are thus: It sucks and no one wants to hear you complain about it.

Because of this I tend to mostly shut up about the subject. It’s hard enough trying to explain to people the realities of height discrimination when you have to also convince them it’s an actual thing in the first place.

“Oh, c’mon!” I’ve heard many, many times. “People don’t treat you any differently because you’re short.”

Every person who has ever said this to me has been at least 5’11”. But I’ve lived the life and know the truth and what I have found is that many of the cultural inequities we traditionally assume are gender-based might have just as much to do with size as the seemingly inexcusable lack of a penis.

Before you take this statement as an affront to the harsh realities of patriarchal oppression and expose my testicles to the flames of your self-righteousness, let me point out several ways I have found where being a short dude and being a woman directly correspond.




Glass Ceiling

Take a look at the list of Fortune 500’s top CEOs and what you’ll find is the classic definition of a sausage party. It’s all men, men, and some more men, with just a smattering of token females to help indicate just how many fucking men there really are. Do you know what the average height of all that money-grubbing manmeat is? 6’0”. And that’s the average, which means a significant amount of those guys are actually taller than that.

Salary Disparity

It’s no secret that women earn significantly less than men do for performing the same jobs. What people don’t know is that height is also a major factor in wage differences. According to Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Blink,” it is estimated that an inch of height is worth an extra $789 a year in salary. This means that a man who is the same height as the average Fortune 500 CEO will likely earn $7,890 more a year than I would for the same job. Over the course of 40-year career, that amounts to a difference of $315,600.


A common complaint amongst women in the workforce is that instead of being praised for showing the same decisive leadership qualities as their male peers, strong women often end up being classified as “bitches” whose dedication is seen as a form of psychosis rather than that of admirable drive and ambition.

In the case of short men, take the above and replace “bitches” with “little Napoleons”, whose desire to succeed is dismissed by many as evidence of “short man’s syndrome” and a pathetic need to prove themselves more worthy than others.


As a woman, have you ever walked into a room full of men and instantly felt yourself evaluated and dismissed in a matter of seconds?

As a result of this, you have to fight to make yourself heard, which earns you the labels of pushy and annoying. No matter how good your points are, they’re ignored, because it has already been decided you have nothing of worth to contribute amongst such company. Ask most short men if they have ever suffered through this dispiriting experience and chances are you’ll get a buttload of yes.

Sexual Harassment

Actually, this is where the similarities between women and short men sharply diverge. Very few of us smaller guys have to worry about receiving unwanted sexual attention. In fact, getting any sexual attention requires a level of dedication and patience that have earned some folks sainthoods in the past.

The fact is that as a short man you can expect 8 out of 10 women to immediately dismiss you as a potential sexual partner at first sight, before you’ve had time to even so much as shout out a “Hey, pretty lady!” And chances are the remaining 2 out of 10 will only give you a couple of minutes to make your case before similarly blowing you off.

In my experience, women hate to hear this, because it makes their entire gender sound extremely shallow and superficial.

Whenever I’ve talked to female friends about this reality, the following conversation has inevitably occurred:

Me: Women don’t like dating short men.

FF: That’s not true. I bet there are a lot of women out there who love short guys.

Me: Have you ever dated one?

FF: No….

Me: Would you?

FF: (Uncomfortable silence)

According to the mega-bestseller “Freakonomics,” short men are statistically less likely to receive any responses from their online dating profiles than any other demographic group. The fact that I’m averaging one a year on my OkCupid profile is actually me breaking the odds through the force of my tremendous personal charisma.

And, of course, there are exceptions to this rule that people love to bring up to dispute this thesis.

“Women love Prince and he’s tiny!” you’ll hear over and over again.

Great, all I have to do is go through life wearing 8-inch stilettos and be a musical genius who also happens to be the greatest live performer of his generation (seriously, I saw him last December). I’ll get right on that.

Most people unconsciously associate height with strength, intelligence and dominance and as a result assume that taller people are better leaders than their shorter counterparts.

Because of this perception, taller children get more chances to develop the social skills that become crucial during such adult activities as entering the workforce and securing booty calls.

Our species has the intellectual capabilities to transcend this hidden prejudice, yet most people still refuse to acknowledge it even exists and choose instead to blame the victim whenever it’s brought up. Things, we are told, would be so much better if we stopped being such whiny crybabies and just got over it.

And, I admit, sometimes I do think I make it sound worse than it is. Would my life have been easier if I shot up an extra six inches during Grades Nine and Ten? Probably, but it’s not like the life I lived has been one of unremitting pain and misery.

When I look back at some of my prouder achievements, I have to admit they might not have had happened if I was just an average schmuck and not an awesome shrimp.



Originally appeared at xoJane

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  1. Alyssa Royse says:

    For what it’s worth, my husband, the man of my dreams in every way, is barely 5’4″. When he stand up really straight.

  2. Great article! This is a topic I have never heard discussed but really should be. I especially liked the relation to the issues that women face and the issues of strength, leadership and perception (I am a woman). Keep it up! I think the issues above should be discussed and addressed by both genders.

  3. I’m confused: I thought it was the presence of a penis that was inexcusable.

  4. Joanna Schroeder says:

    Allan, such a great piece. I dated lots of guys between 5’6″-5’8″ and one guy who was 5’3″ or maybe 5’4″ (I’m just over 5’7″) and people were perplexed by the shortest guy especially. I married a super tall guy, the only really tall guy I ever dated, but it wasn’t because of his height.

    I don’t know what the point of me telling you this is, except that I think the more we talk about it, the better. Height was a non-issue for me, but I KNOW you get shit from all sides as a short guy and I”m just sorry it happens. Here with lots of support and you’ve got the main thing women find attractive — humor! I know you enough to say that you are really funny, you’re fun, compassionate and those are all super sexy qualities!!

    Anyway, thanks for writing this and sharing it with us. We gotta keep talking about it! I almost think “Short Guy Dating Chronicles” might be an interesting thing to write about at some point…

    • “Here with lots of support and you’ve got the main thing women find attractive — humor!”

      I don’t think its true. Maybe for you, but not for all women, and not me. Yes all human like to have fun and sense of humor is part of it. But without attraction and connection, sense of humor is nothing. I cant fall in love or feel lust for a guy who is just funny if I don’t find him attractive.

  5. Hi Allan

    You are right. This happens,and it happens in Europe as well.

    Have you tried dating sites for professionals
    like The Guardians Soulmate?
    If you can write a BRILLIANT profile, I will be surprised if nobody responds.

    Take a look the profiles of other men there. If they are as talented as their profiles indicate, some women would not hesitate to push “like” when the man is 5.2″

    I do not mean profiles that brag about degrees and jobs. Simply profiles that demonstrate their talents in writing.

    A 5.4″ man I liked a lot was snatched before my eyes!

    But few Americans are on Soulmates. It is mainly UK.

    I wonder why dating sites ask us to fill out our “wishes” of how tall , what weight,what age we want in our partner. Even Soulmates ask for that when you creates a profile. But you do not have to fill out all their questions.

    And I have read that the thing most men lie about on dating site profile is their height.
    It is sad.

  6. Just the other day, someone said to me “you’re like the most comfortable person with his height I’ve ever met.” I took that as a big compliment. I’m 5’6″ and at 32, I’m completely comfortable in my skin. Does it suck sometimes? Yes, of course. Have I had some of the experiences described above? Sure. But other than when I wear my Timberlands, which make me a little taller, I don’t have any control of the matter, so it’s time to just make the best of what’s around. And many times, it’s self-depricating jokes that make me laugh at myself and let others know it’s ok to joke around with me (just before my friend made the statement, I had been remarking about how awesome it was that the bathroom at the bar had the child urinals, so I wouldn’t have to stand on my tip toes at the normal ones). I’ve also taken time to notice my posture – let me tell you, once you make a concerted effort to stand up tall AND you add a little confidence to boot, you won’t feel 5’6″ anymore.

  7. I’m 5’9″ female. Have dated men much shorter than myself. Many women miss out by insisting that the men they date/love/marry are tall or taller than they are. Open your minds, ladies!Allan Mott is a gem & he’s single. : )

  8. The Wet One says:

    Shuddap short guy! No one cares! NO ONE!!!

    (I kid, I kid!!!!)

    Peace bro!


  9. Excellent piece, Allan – poignant and funny. I’m 5’7″, so not as height-disadvantaged as you, but still short enough that I can related to practically everything you described. (You left out the humiliation that can be clothes shopping.) My “growth spurt” didn’t happen until about my sophomore or junior year of high school, and seemed over practically before it began, so through all of elementary school and much of high school, I was frequently the smallest kid in class. Smallest kid, not smallest boy. I had a baby face to boot, so I always looked a few years younger than my actual age, which was awful as an adolescent. As a middle-aged adult, it’s no longer a big pain to look a few years younger than I am, but when I wanted to date in my age range as a young man, that youthful look did nothing to offset my shortness. (I haven’t bought alcohol in a few years, but I’ve been carded after 40 more than once.)

    The effect I’m accustomed to all my life when it comes to attraction is that my height, combined with all-around young, non-beefy appearance, has been to be perceived as asexual. This can be an advantage in some non-dating ways, like when women talk about feeling automatically intimidated or threatened by a man just because he’s a man, they hardly ever mean me. Women don’t shrink into the opposite corner if I enter an elevator, or cross the street to get away from me. So I have that going for me, which is nice. On the other hand, about the best first impression I ever hoped to make as a dating prospect was “cute boy”, not “handsome stud”. More Michael J. Fox than George Clooney. I didn’t end up completely shut out of dating and relationships because of my height, but in a lot of cases, it definitely seemed like “You must be this tall to ride outside the Friend Zone”, and I didn’t measure up.

  10. Nicely written. I agree. I’m 5’6 and I do my very best not to make hasty generalizations about women. But damn is it hard sometimes. A lot of women can insist on that a man has to be 4 inches taller when she’s wearing stilts or heels but may God save your soul if you find obesity a turn-off.

    You have done well. The more this is spoken about the better.

  11. wellokaythen says:

    All too true and all too common.

    A few things:

    Don’t shout “hey, pretty lady!” to women, no matter what your height. They are even more annoyed by it when you’re tall.

    This may not make you feel better in the 21st century, but tall is historically relative. The average height of the Roman legionary soldier at the peak of the Roman Empire was 5’1”. Napoleon was probably average height for someone from Corsica and slightly less than average height for a man in France of that time period. He seemed short because he surrounded himself with huge grenadier bodyguards and because he’s shown as a dwarf in all the anti-Napoleon British propaganda of the time period.

    Oh wait, telling you that Napoleon wasn’t all that short doesn’t really help matters. I gotta think about this some more and I’ll get back to you.

    • “Napoleon was probably average height for someone from Corsica and slightly less than average height for a man in France of that time period. He seemed short because he surrounded himself with huge grenadier bodyguards and because he’s shown as a dwarf in all the anti-Napoleon British propaganda of the time period.”

      He was like 5’6 or 5’7″, sure he wasn’t 6′, but I’m not sure that’s really short for 1800s.

  12. As a tall woman (5’9″) the problem I have dating shorter men is not with them but with me. Basically, when I’m with a man who is physically smaller than me, I feel HUGE and it’s a terrible, unsexy feeling. I wish I could get over it, but I can’t seem to figure out how. I expect many women have this hang up due to social conditioning that tells us that only small, petite women are feminine and sexy. I know that may not be comforting to shorter men whose attentions I have rejected over the years, but it really isn’t about them.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      I had this ex who thought me being taller than him was THE sexiest thing ever. He thought it made him look powerful.

      I never felt unsexy, but part of that was his pure obsession with my height. He would try to get me into 4 inch heels all the time so I would look even taller. It was almost a fetish. But I think the idea that a short guy being with a tall girl means he is powerful is really, really interesting.

      Would love to see someone break that down.

  13. This is all shitty and true and it sucks, however my aunt is REALLY into short guys (to the point where it’s a little creepy) so they are out there.

    • That comment didn’t come off as well as I assume you intended it.
      It sounds kind of like telling obese people that there are fat-fetishist and feeders out there for them.

      • There are people who find certain kinds of people more attractive, for different reasons. It’s rarely sexual-only, even when it turns out to be a fetish. A man with a fetish for big boobs or for women’s feet usually still likes the woman attached to them and considers them human. Same deal really.

        It’s just bad self-esteem and bad press from the loved one (thinking you’re so undesirable, anyone who desires you is in love with filth), with a societal shame for the lover one (considered weird to 11), who might in turn react by wanting to ‘hide the relationship’, go for ONS instead of relationship and other such reactions, to preserve appearances to his peers.

        Some men really do prefer trans women who didn’t, and likely won’t, get surgery. It’s not about liking you for your problem, it’s not about liking you despite your problem, it’s a simple preference, like hair color.

        Some women think men all want skinny girls, but that’s not the standard in predominantly-black communities. Plump and curvy is the standard there. So keep in mind that even as an outlier, some people like you for you.

  14. Nothing much you can do about your height but I know many short rich men who have trphy wives and mistresses.Women will overlook your height and looks if you have enough money.That is the harsh reality of life.So go get that money.

  15. I am asian and my height is barely 5 foot. Even in Asia it is considered short. But guess what?A lot of Asian girls are shorter than me! I did stay in US for 18 years and my experience is worse than you. Imagine working at schools, and most of the elementary schools are taller than you…

  16. As a rather tall man (6’9″), a lot of these conditions exist for me as well, some directly, some inversely. In any case, our world certainly finds no limit to the ways in which we discriminate against one another, and helping people to be mindful of it is truly admirable.

  17. Send me a short guy please. I’m 5ft and relate to being dismissed for being short as well as being a woman. I don’t want to have to crane my neck or stand on tiptoe to interact with a guy. Reminds me of interacting with my father and that’s creepy

  18. I’ve been tempted to save myself the hassle and just get a tattoo on my head that states “I’m short, not incompetent.”

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