The Height of Prejudice
Jokes, prejudice and Hobbit comparisons: FELIX NUGEE describes the difficulties of being diminutive.
Over Christmas, I received two items of clothing which I thought were both beautiful in their own right and would work perfectly in conjunction with each other: a mustard peacoat and a rather fetching dark red waistcoat. Recently, when attempting to leave the house, I was told in no uncertain terms by my girlfriend that I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere dressed like that.
When I asked why she didn’t like the waistcoat, she responded that whilst she could appreciate that it was a nice waistcoat, I am apparently “just too short to wear it, and look like a Hobbit.” Whilst I can just about see the appeal of Aragorn’s rough-and-ready, sexy tramp look, I have never been particularly inspired by Frodo’s sartorial decisions. Anyway, I thought, the joke’s on her: even Merry and Pippin, the tallest hobbits ever, were only 4’5”. I can clearly top that by over a whole foot.
Needless to say, I stood my ground and wore it anyway. And I haven’t got laid since. Whilst my sex life disintegrating due to my stubbornness over a waistcoat is in its own way a serious problem, I think there’s a much bigger issue at stake here. Heightism is endemic in our society.
People often make fun of me for trying to be a “hipster” by rolling up my trousers. What so few of them understand is that the causation runs in the other direction. I have to roll up my trousers, otherwise I end up tripping over the ends of them, and have joined the hipster crowd just so that the overall look works. Before rolling up trousers became fashionable I fell over even more often than I currently do.
Many people dismiss the idea of bias against short people, pointing to examples of men of diminutive stature reaching unparalleled heights. Berlusconi, Medvedev, Putin and Sarkozy are all good examples. Closer to home, Ben Kentish gives all of us sub 5’9” hope that we will someday amount to something. I would say that these men made it in spite of their height and should be championed for it. In the last twenty-five US presidential elections, the shorter candidate has only won six times; as those of you who have been lectured by the impressively tall Nigel Knight will know, William Hague failure to beat Tony Blair was not down to any policy differences, but his “lack of stature in the television era.”
However, one positive impact of being this short is that I can use my height as an excuse in many situations. I play rugby (quite badly) and when this gets brought up in conversation, people often look me up and down before asking “Aren’t you quite short to play rugby..?” to which I can happily respond with “well, it’s like my coaches have always said to me: if you were 6’3” then you’d be playing for England; 5’7.5” just doesn’t cut it.” (I am fully in the knowledge that my appalling hand eye coordination and flat-out refusal to go to the gym are probably more important factors here).
So, my message for those of you who are vertically challenged is to be brave and take heart that there are others out there who know how you feel. When your friends compare you to an oompa loompa after you return from holiday with an orange hue, just shrug it off; buy your girlfriend an exceptionally high pair of heels regardless of the Cullum-Dahl comparisons; and, most importantly of all, wear your waistcoats with pride.