I’ve heard a lot of angry men complain about women who won’t consider dating men under 6 feet tall. Five-foot-nine men need not apply.
Do you know what? If I were a man, I think I’d be angry about that too. As women who care about fighting toxic masculinity and also endorsing body positivity, we have got to give men the same grace we want for our own selves.
If we object to men who have unrealistic expectations of women, then wouldn’t we also want to get rid of our own unfair expectations of them?
To be honest, I think the whole notion that a woman must be shorter than her mate is ridiculous. Though I’ve definitely been guilty of falling for the cultural script myself.
Let's flip the stupid short guy script.
A few years ago, I tried dating someone I'd met online. His profile never mentioned his height, and it's not something I had even thought to ask. When we met in person, I was surprised to see that he was shorter than me.
Right away, it felt kinda... off. When we went out, I found myself worrying about what other people might think when they saw us. Yikes. I had no idea that I even had such issues with a man's height and I felt pretty damn shallow to discover such feelings.
Luckily, I decided it was a personal problem (my problem, not his), and we kept dating. And guess what? We had a lot of fun together and it was a great relationship.
When we finally did break up, it had nothing to do with his short stature. Our schedules weren't lining up, we had conflicting work ethics, and we each realized that we wanted different things out of life.
The split was amicable and I was glad to have dated him because it showed me where I had a hypocritical reflex to dating shorter men.
But what if tall men make you feel safe?
I hear a lot of women say this and I wish I could get them to expand their definition of what it even means to feel safe. And sure, I get it. We all like what we like, and no one can force anybody else to find another person attractive.
Isn't it a little weird to expect something from somebody's body that they have zero control over? No one can choose their height, yet many women are perfectly content to overlook genuinely good men all on the basis that they aren't tall "enough."
If you really need a man to be six feet tall to feel safe, that's on you. And I don't mean that unkindly, but that whole line of thinking is wrapped up in toxic masculinity.
Even women can perpetuate dangerous myths about men.
We women are guilty when we expect men to fall in line with their own cultural script. You know, the one that says "real men" are tall, dark and handsome. Or that manly men don't cry.
We're guilty of promoting toxic masculinity when we insist that we could only ever feel safe dating a man who's at least some arbitrary height. There are a hundred different problems with that line of thinking, and ultimately, it helps no one.
Body positivity belongs to men too.
We're living in an age where more people are beginning to question society's standards of beauty. Retailers and manufacturers are making an effort to become more inclusive. Many folks are increasingly aware of the fact that all bodies are good bodies.
Since I don't believe in overlooking fat people, shouldn't my insistence on body acceptance extend to a person's stature too?
Shorter men don't need to be pitied, just like fat people don't need any pity either. And this isn't about looking down on anybody, anyway. This is about treating a person like a fucking human being.
We've been sold a fairy tale romance.
Far too many people in America have been told the same silly story about love since they were small. We've been told that romantic love is heterosexual, and men slay beasts while women need rescuing.
In this story, women are beautiful when they are small and petite. The men are handsome when they are tall and muscular. Those big men make us little women feel so safe, and if we somehow deviate from the norm?
We feel it.
As if we've somehow failed the world personally.
Or failed ourselves.
Far too many people struggle with their identity because they don't feel like they can live up to the expectations this culture thrusts upon them as men or women.
It's so damn unnecessary.
And we should be supporting each other's individuality rather than continuing to embrace ridiculous expectations and gender roles.
Height is neither an accomplishment nor a flaw.
Over the years, I have known plenty of tall women who can feel me on this. A lot of women who happen to be particularly tall find that dating can be tough because the men they meet tend to be shorter than them. Or, if a man is about the same height, the woman might be hesitant to wear whatever heels she'd like.
It takes inner confidence for a woman to recognize that she's going to face rejection for being "too tall." And men need their own inner confidence to date a taller woman without feeling like they are somehow deficient.
Short men are not deficient. Tall women are not freaks. It's unfortunate that any of this even needs to be said, but perhaps it's become even more of an issue now that so many folks get online to "people shop."
Of course, dating is not about shopping for people, but we often treat it as if that's the case. Dating apps allow us to whittle each other down to our individual specifications, as if we were comparing cars.
It's not that online dating is so inherently terrible. But there are definite pitfalls to be aware of, and treating people like objects is certainly one of those things.
I don't know if there is any solution to this problem beyond simply talking about it and getting real about some of our silly hangups in dating. If we somehow feel self-conscious about ourselves or our relationship all because we're concerned about the way other people might see us, that's a real problem we shouldn't let slide.