Height Shaming: One Man’s Personal Struggle In America’s Next…

Our society continues to make progress on various forms of discrimination, but the more minorities, women and gays make progress towards full equality in our society the more we expose the real core of America’s discrimination: shaming.    Whether it’s using new slurs like “tranny” or “midget” or shaming sluts or bullying people we are seeing the real problem with America.  Sure gays are still being deprived civil rights in a majority of the country, women  on college campuses are being sexually assaulted in alarming numbers and the voting and civil rights of minorities are under attack and it is good we are working towards fixing these things, but these are just the tip of the iceberg.   How can we worry about rape of young women when we live in a rape culture where filth like Maleficent can be made in Hollywood??!!   Well after discussing with my family and doing some soul searching I have decided to go public with my experiences dealing with the scourge of height shaming.

Being asked on a daily basis by strangers “How tall are you?” and “Do you play basketball”  has made me afraid to go in public, to say nothing of the disappointed and hostile looks I receive when I reveal to these same strangers that I am not a professional basketball player.  It is as if I have been tattooed with a scarlet N (for Not a basketball player).  Shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm have made me feel ashamed to feel comfortable on the taller handicapped toilets.  Extra space on public transit seats labeled “handicapped” have provided me with needed comfort, but also a shameful feeling when I refuse to give up the seat to a person in a “wheelchair.”  I am now so not handicapped that I am closer to the handicapped community than the “regular” community as they call themselves.  And this is to say nothing of the shameful display I saw at the Guinness’Book of World Records Museum in San Antonio that I had to endure in Summer of 2013.  Greeting visitors at the entrance of the museum is a mechanical representation of the Rosa Parks of the anti-height shaming struggle, Robert Waldlow, the tallest man ever to live.  He grew to 8’11 1/2″ (he died at 24 due to a pituitary condition, denying the heighted community of its first 9 foot leader since Goliath).  And do we honor this man’s struggle and fight? No we have tourists take pictures with his likeness.  This is like if the Washington Redskins not only kept their name, but had fans take pictures with dead Native Americans during the game.

I have been soldiering on in this height-shaming society (remember when we used to brag about how tall people made more money and how the tallest candidate always won the presidency?  Now we choose to ignore the height community’s contributions to society and talk instead about how other people make less and how we need a short woman to be president, not to mention the harsh criticism our society has given Lebron James ever since he said he was taking his height to South Beach), but yesterday it became clear that shutting our collective mouth is not working.  In order to fit on to my Jet Blue flight to Los Angeles yesterday I had to purchase their “even more leg room” seats, which might as well be labeled “Freak Assigned Seating.”  It was an additional $80!!!  Now it did allow me to skip a large part of the security line and board the plane first, but everyone knew this was just a way for all the “regulars” to more easily target us.

Now if I was fat(ter) I might have to buy two seats because my girth would be a personal choice and the media would rally behind me with a series of posts about how I was being fat-shamed.  But no one is speaking up for my legs, whose length is solely based on genetics, needing to buy extra space just to feel normal like everyone else’s legs.  How many times can I limp off planes for being cramped in a “regular” seat or endure dirty looks from people sitting in front of me feeling my knees digging into their back?  So, perhaps as payback for our earning power over comparable “regulars” we are now being forced to pay additional fees just to feel normal.

Today I ask that you join me in stopping this.  The height community deserves to use handicapped seats and bathrooms without stigma and we deserve to get extra leg room at no extra cost.   Most importantly we should be allowed to live in peace without being asked our height and career with scornful looks by complete strangers on a daily basis.  They are coming for the tall and if we do nothing well then you know how that slippery slope goes. So please help change happen by tweeting #WeStandWithTheTall

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