Why short men who complain about “double standards” are missing the point.
Teenage boys love bonding with each other by discussing the teenage girls they fancy, but when I was a teenage boy, I often fancied girls that other boys found unappealing. They told me I had “low standards” and mocked my personal tastes. It was hard to pursue girls without worrying about the judgment of other boys, so when I found a particular girl attractive, I would often go to my male friends for confirmation that she was in fact attractive.
I always imagined that, at a slumber party somewhere on the other side of town, girls were doing the same thing about me and my friends. I imagined a 5’10” girl remarking, “I don’t care if he’s shorter than me; I think Giorgio’s cute.” Then I imagined all of her female friends unloading Hobbit jokes onto her until she recanted. What was my evidence for this? I had none. I just always assumed girls talked about boys in the same chauvinistic, self-centered, emotionally devoid way that boys talked about girls.
From what I actually knew, though, girls weren’t complaining about our physical appearance; they were complaining about our fixation on their physical appearance. They wondered why boys cared so much about the size of their breasts, the tightness of their clothes, their natural body hair and their choice not to wear make-up. Girls who didn’t get noticed by boys slut-shamed the girls who did, and they called us boys shallow for liking certain girls over others.
Well, on the one hand, we were being shallow. We were assigning value to certain girls over others based on our own physical attraction to them, and we deserved to be called out for that. On the other hand, the only ones calling us out were girls we didn’t want to date, and doing so didn’t make us any more likely to date them; it just made us feel bad about ourselves for not wanting to. We can’t control what we’re attracted to, but we don’t want to be perceived as shallow, because that’s an unattractive quality, too.
Women can’t control what they’re attracted to, either, and as I’ve learned, most women are naturally attracted to taller men. If you’re a shorter man, chances are you don’t like hearing this, just as women don’t like hearing that most men are attracted to thinner and younger women. However, while marrying a tall man is a lifelong investment, marrying a young, skinny woman is not. A tall husband will not get shorter, but a waify wife will age. A woman who marries solely based on height will not be disappointed in the long run, but a man who marries solely based on youth & small-waistedness probably will be. If women want a monogamous lifelong partner, the best strategy is to find their tall prince and marry him at as young an age as possible. If men want a lifelong monogamous partner, we have to adapt, and part of our adaptation requires us to change our standards of attractiveness. We have to learn to see the beauty in our wives’ wrinkles, stretch marks, and surgery scars, even if evolutionary instincts tell us we need to find a new partner who meets our old standards.
Shorter men often compare their height to women’s weight in order to show a “double standard,” and the comparison works to a point, but often times, it’s taken too far. Shorter men will often say things like, “A fat woman can lose weight, but I can’t make myself taller. It’s not fair.” This is its own form of fat-shaming, and it completely misses the point. What they’re trying to say is that they don’t choose to be short, and if they could find a way to make themselves taller, they would, because they want women to be attracted to them. By drawing the analogy between men’s height and women’s weight, though, these men imply that women are overweight by choice and therefore deserve to be single, and that shorter men deserve affection because they have no control over their undesirable quality.
An analogy between men’s height and women’s age, although still not perfect, works better here. Women can’t control the fact that they age, just as men can’t control their height, but men place a much higher value on women’s age than women place on men’s, and the opposite is true with height. An older woman has fewer options when pursuing a mate, as does a shorter man. When an older man finds a partner much younger than himself, women his own age will resent what they perceive as “shallowness.” When a petite woman finds a partner much taller than herself, men her own size will also resent what they perceive as “shallowness.” In both instances, we can’t control what we’re attracted to, and rejecting someone we aren’t attracted to is not “shaming,” but tormenting a person for being “shallow” is.
When it comes to being shallow, we all have different ideas about what “society” allows. Some say “society” encourages us to be shallow, while others say “society” shames us for our natural attractions. In reality, our shallowness, whether right or wrong, comes from a desire to pick the right partner, whereas “shallow-shaming” only comes from a place of fear and hurt. Sometimes, winning another person’s love requires us to appeal to their shallowness, and it’s a shame that so many of us try to win love by condemning that shallowness, instead. We have no right to objectively judge a person’s worth based on our own superficial preferences, but others have no right to objectively judge us for forming partnerships (or rejecting prospective ones) based on those superficial preferences, either.
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