The New York Times Is Right: Being Tall Ain’t All It’s Cracked up to Be

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Some folks are mocking an op-ed in the New York Times in which columnist Mara Altman makes the case that being short is preferable to being tall. Indeed, she is getting thoroughly dragged on social media.


In her piece, Altman notes that in today’s society, “[o]ur success as individuals does not depend on beating up other people or animals” and that “in an era of guns and drones, being tall now just makes you a bigger target.”

The author also asserts that “short people live longer” and “have fewer incidences of cancer.” But being closer to the Earth also has another benefit: A small carbon footprint. She writes:

Thomas Samaras, who has been studying height for 40 years and is known in small circles as the Godfather of Shrink Think, a widely unknown philosophy that considers small superior, calculated that if we kept our proportions the same but were just 10 percent shorter in America alone, we would save 87 million tons of food per year (not to mention trillions of gallons of water, quadrillions of B.T.U.s of energy and millions of tons of trash).

“When you mate with shorter people, you’re potentially saving the planet by shrinking the needs of subsequent generations. Lowering the height minimum for prospective partners on your dating profile is a step toward a greener planet,” Altman added.

Yes, this might just seem like a load of leftist claptrap. But perhaps she is on to something here. I would submit to you, dear reader, that the vertically challenged Altman might have a point. Contrary to popular belief, height privilege isn’t as wonderful as you might think. In fact, I’d suggest society is set up to discriminate against those who dare to tower over others, and it is an absolute travesty.


At 6’3”, my height is fairly noticeable. In fact, the first thing people who know me from my work or on social media say when they meet me in person is: “I had no idea you were that tall!”

This is only one of many microaggressions I have experienced as a tall black person. In a previous article, I recalled how traumatic it has been to constantly be “approached by sweet old white women in Walmart and Target who ask me to grab items from the top shelf that they cannot reach.”

I wrote: “All throughout my life, old ladies have approached me in grocery stores, asking, ‘young man, can you please grab that box of cookies from the top shelf for me?’”

Even beyond getting items from the top of grocery shelves, people have seen fit to use my height for their own purposes. I can’t tell you how many times shorter people have used me as a source of shade on a hot Texas day or as a bulwark on a windy day shielding them from gusty blasts. It’s downright dehumanizing, I tell you.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. As a political commentator, I tend to travel quite a bit, which means having to do a lot of flying. Can you imagine what it’s like to be scrunched up in those tiny seats with little to no legroom for three hours? Oh, the horror!

Meanwhile, my fellow passengers who are less than six feet tall are sitting in the lap of comfort, smiling, conversing with one another, or reading the latest Alex Cross novel with relative ease. Life is good for these folks. But for those like myself, we are being tortured thousands of feet above the ground. If society cared about lengthier individuals, they would have separate sections for taller folks like myself so we too could experience the luxury of having room for our legs.


But what about injuries? I can’t tell you how many times I have banged my head in cars and other confined spaces because I was simply too tall to fit comfortably. Sometimes, it is easy for tall people to forget that there are things above us because we are usually above everyone else. I have slammed my head against doorways, low ceilings, awnings, and other items so often I’m surprised I have not experienced more concussions than an NFL running back.

The struggle is real, y’all.

But what about taking group pictures? As one of the taller people in most groups, I am forced to stand in the back, which is a form of height-based Jim Crow. Why can’t I kneel in the front? Why can’t I just stand off to the side? What if I want the world to see me in all my splendor instead of being relegated to a smiling head peeking out from over the group?

These are only a small sampling of the injustices I am forced to endure as a tall American. Never mind the fact that chicks love my height. Who cares if they love my bear hugs? Being the first pick for pick-up basketball isn’t as great as it sounds. And the fact that taller people are typically seen in a more favorable light is not the panacea you might expect.

Make no mistake – I am living under a level of oppression most people don’t experience or comprehend. But alas, I don’t think America is ready for the height-based bigotry conversation. I suppose I will have to wait until we are more advanced as a society before we can broach this issue. In the meantime, I’ll have to content myself with stealing the girlfriends of shorter men.



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