Terrance Heath

Let Us Now (P)Raise Famous Men

Filed By Terrance Heath | April 26, 2009 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: short men, shortness, stature

She meant well, I know.

Years ago, after I got a letter from my mom. Also in the envelope was a newspaper clipping. I unfolded it to find it was an article about a company that made lifts for short men to wear in their shoes, in order to achieve a few inches of height. When I spoke with her on the phone, she asked me if I got the clipping, and I confirmed that I did. I didn't have the heart to tell her that, as a gay man, I'd never hear the end of it if I got caught wearing lifts. I'd be better off just wearing heels or platform shoes.

That wasn't the first such exchange between my mom and I. When I was
in college and home for a weekend visit, she handed me a newspaper
clipping about fashion tips for short men. (One that I remembered was
to avoid wearing cuffed pants. Reason: the cuff breaks the line of the
leg, shortening it even further.) Again, she meant well. My guess is
that she knew men of less-than-average height are generally at a
disadvantage, and wanted to help me out if she could. (Studies have
documented heightism in employment and politics. Plus, short kids are more likely to be bullied.)

And once, while watching television, we came across a 20/20 program about how short men get, well, short shrift.


The program defined short as something like 5? 7? and under. At that
point 5-foot-tall mom turned to me and asked "So, what does that make
you?"

"The tall end of short," I replied, from a height of or around 5? 7?.

It's funny, height isn't something I've ever been particularly
sensitive about, though I've alway said that if I could change change
something about myself physically, I wouldn't mind a few more inches of height. Not to be a giant or anything. Just enought to make me somewhere around 5? 10?. (Average height for American men is around 5? 9?.) But I've never felt disadvantaged by my height, or at least been aware of it.

(I don't think height is a big deal for gay men. It's likely that

guys tend to go for guys who are the same or near the same height. But
I've dates guys who were taller than me and shorter than me. The hubby
and I are actually the same height. Parker is looking like he's going
to be six feet tall by the time he stops growing. He's in kindergarten,
and already taller than some of the 2nd graders in his soccer league.)

The above came to mind when I a Guardian article about famous men who wear height-enhancing shoes.

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We are not aware that Robert Downey Jr's film Iron Man 2 is subtitled "the glam rock years", so we have to assume that the high heels he is wearing on set are to enhance his diminutive stature. Stacked heels and shoe lifts are nothing new in Hollywood - Pasquale di Fabrizio, the self-styled "shoemaker to the stars", made shoes for everyone from Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson until he retired from his shop in LA, and revealed that he discreetly added height to many celebrities (he named Michael Douglas and Sylvester Stallone among others).

On the brilliantly odd and self-explanatory website celebheights.com, which has a contributor called Glenn, 5ft 8in, who gets himself photographed with celebrities such as Mel Gibson and Leonardo Di Caprio for comparison, like a human tape measure, the consensus among its fans is that most male celebrities have a little help.

I looked at the slideshow of the men in the article: Bono, Nicholas Sarkozy, Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Mick Jagger. It got me thinking. These are all men of short stature who have achieved big things. In term of accomplishment (yes, even Gibson whose politics I hate and Cruise who just freaks me out), they're huge. (Pun intended.)

I decided to do some research and see if I could find other men who fit the same bill. I think I came up with quite an impressive list.

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I'm sure it could be a much longer list, with even more names added. But as it stands, this is pretty good company to be in.

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Being short is tougher for straight men. Most women I've come across are very strict in that they will not date a shorter guy. Rigid gender roles and expectations of protection.

Not the case at all with gay men. It's much more flexible.

Regan DuCasse | April 26, 2009 1:29 PM

Well, as always like to say..."small, but mighty".

I'm a woman, I'm 5'9 and not averse to going out with a man who is shorter than I am.

I've noticed though, that First Ladies Carla Bruni and Michelle Obama tend to wear kitten heeled or flat shoes so as not to be so much noticeably taller than their husbands.

Thing is, although slender, I'm a serious athlete. I wouldn't want to hurt a guy, nor make him feel intimidated.
Around the gym, it's the taller guys who will flirt, and the shorter ones, not so much.

It's a lesson, nonetheless.

At 5'3" I have to say my height seems to bother other people more than it does me. People seem to automatically assume that I feel bad about my height and that naturally, I wish I was taller.

The only time I wish I was any taller is if I need to get something off a top shelf and there is nothing around to stand on. Luckily, I have long arms.