Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It can be lonely being short

We get so many emails from short men who complain about how difficult it is to find a woman who is interested. It is sad how pervasive this bias is against short statured men. Is this a prejudice or simple preference? What is so terrible about short height in a man?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Is Short Stature a disease?

Short People
By Miriam Schulman
At 5 feet, 1/4 inch, I admit to a vested interest when I criticize the recent FDA approval of using human growth hormone to treat "short stature" of unknown origin. The ruling allows doctors to prescribe the biosynthesized hormone Humatrope to children with projected heights of 4 feet 11 inches for women, 5 feet 3 inches for men, even if the cause of their shortness is undiagnosed.
In my case, the cause of my stature is pretty clear: My paternal grandmother was 4feet 9 inches, and several of my aunts and cousins have never grazed the 5 foot mark. In fact, I'm a giant at family reunions.
I'm not going to say our stature never caused us any problems. When I go grocery shopping, I often have to find some nice tall person to reach the Cheerios, and I had a car once that I could only drive with a pillow behind me. I'm also fairly certain that if I raised myself up to my full height?which is what the trail signs say to do if you encounter a bobcat?it wouldn't do much to intimidate the wildlife.
This is not meant to trivialize the problems that face Little People (the preferred term used by those with dwarfism, sometimes defined as adult height below 4 feet 10 inches). Many cannot reach an automatic teller, elevator button, credit card reader at the gas pump, vending machine, or public pay phone. Many also have orthopedic problems related to their dwarfism that certainly qualify as disabilities. And many?Little and short people alike?are the targets of discrimination based on their size.
But the FDA decision does medicalize normally occurring shortness in ways that I think should give us pause. In "treating" shortness, we tread the dividing line between medical care that cures diseases and medical care that seeks to enhance the characteristics of otherwise healthy individuals. As scientific research opens up the possibility of making us all taller, smarter, faster, we have to ask whether, at some very basic level, that makes us better.
It's also important to note that, in many cases, we will be making these decisions for our children. Growth hormone, for example, has to be administered to pre-school age youngsters. Parents will be guessing that the extra 3 to 4 inches will give their child important advantages that the child him- or herself would want.
Primarily, as I read it, parents are not worrying so much that their children's feet won't reach the accelerator pedal; they're more concerned that their children will not be taken seriously, will not rise to the top of their professions, will be discriminated against because of their height.
Let us say they are right. Is that sufficient reason to "treat" shortness? What about the other causes of discrimination? Should we "treat" dark skin coloring? Should we "treat" homosexuality?
Although it's an imperfect analogy, I'd like to argue that we should approach enhancement as we would any other technology that reduces biodiversity. There's inherent good in preserving differences among people, just as there is in preserving differences among species. When we set up a particular constellation of characteristics as normative and try to medicate everyone into conformity with them, who knows what we will lose?in the strength of character people develop as they cope with their differences, in the perspectives they bring to our common problems, in the advantages they may offer, which we, with our puny knowledge of human biological complexity, can not yet begin to fathom.

Women biased against short men

Women will take just about any shortcoming in a man, except inthe height department, according to Andrea McGinty, who foundedthe San Diego-based dating service It's Just Lunch.McGinty helped ABCNEWS put together an experiment to test justhow willing women are to date shorter men. We brought togetherseveral short men and asked them to stand next to taller men.We invited groups of women to look at the men and choose a date.To see if the women would go for short guys who were successful,ABCNEWS' Lynn Sherr created extraordinary résumés for the shortermen. She told the women that the shorter men included a doctor,a best-selling author, a champion skier, a venture capitalistwho'd made millions by the age of 25.Nothing worked. The women always chose the tall men. Sherr askedwhether there'd be anything she could say that would make theshortest of the men, who was 5 feet, irresistible. One of thewomen replied, "Maybe the only thing you could say is that theother four are murderers." Another backed her up, saying thathad the taller men had a criminal record she might have beenswayed to choose a shorter man. Another said she'd haveconsidered the shorter men, if the taller men had beendescribed as "child molesters."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Unity For Short Statured Adults

Short statured adults now have a human rights organization to serve their needs. NOSSA - National Organization of Short Statured Adults.

Heightism Messageboards

Finally, a means to gain awareness. A place to discuss the issue of heightism in an open forum.

Massachusetts bill to prohibit height & weight discrimination

The State of Massachusetts in the United States of America is considering a new law that would ban height and weight discrimination in employment and public accomodations. We need your help in getting this bill to pass. Please write a letter and send an email to the following State legislators and tell them you support H.3752. Please do not be rude or offensive to these people as this will hurt our chances of getting the bill to pass. JOINT COMMITTEE ON LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT Room 43State HouseBoston, MA 02133
Telephone: (617) 722-2030

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