Articles abound on how the war on fat people is the only acceptable form of discrimination. I guess you can say I jumped on the band wagon with everyone else. Yesterday I received a letter from a man named Christopher Hamre. Christopher was writing to let me know that indeed there is another group of people affected by discrimination.
With permission here is his email:
Dear Ms. Wood-
I currently work at an ad agency and while checking for client ads in February's "Marie Claire"- I ran across that article for fat women (editor's note: I wrote about the article back in February: Marie Claire on Fat Women). I was curious about it, not because I am an overweight female but because I am a short male and what we face is comparable to what these women face. Yet, the introductory portion stated that discrimination against fat women is the only acceptable form of prejudice that exists and that is simply not true. Trust me on that.
Christopher A. Hamre
Vice-President/National Organization of Short-Statured Adults
My first reaction was rather harsh considering the two pieces of hate mail I have received over the last week and I did not trust him on it. I thought, how could he possibly think what he goes through is comparable to what overweight or obese women (men) face? I wrote him back as such but at the same time struggled with wanting to share his message as I felt sure I was not the only one blind to this issue.
In the following email Christopher informed me of some of the things short people, particularly men face.
It has actually been proven that the shorter are paid less. A study was conducted a few years ago showed where an inch advantage in height equalled - on average - an additional $789/inch. How many short CEOs are there in the Fortune 500? With the exception of James Madison - how may Presidents have been 5'4"?
There are hateful comments directed at shorter males. I was once told by a complete stranger "Hey midget! Midget! I hate people like you!" So, it happens. Not to mention how many times the shorter kid is also targeted for bullying in the schools. You could go to any school in America, all white, all black, integrated etc. and I would be willing to bet the shorter kids are the ones who get picked on the most.
This is not to say that the overweight aren't discriminated against-- I know they are too. How many of these talk shows (Oprah, Tyra, Montel etc) discuss short men's trials compared to the problems of overweight women... honestly?
I am treated less than human and instead of getting space, short people don't seem to get the same space everyone else gets. Ever been in a crowded space or elevator? People have no problem backing up against the shorter person, not giving him or her the same amount of space they'd want for themselves.
So, my point, which I was trying to make before, is that overweight people aren't the only group that gets treated in a less than humane way... that's all.
I appreciate Christopher taking the time to share what he goes through as a short person. I know I was completely blind to it. Christopher was also nice of enough to provide some links. First here is the link to the organization National Organization of Short Statured Adults, a "non-profit, grassroots, human rights organization committed to opposing heightism in society." He also recommended Short Support which has over 480 articles on "what it's like to be short."
And finally a link to a feature presented by 20/20 in 1996 where "women were brought in to look at men and what their preferences were. No matter what great traits the short guys were given--they were still rejected by the women. A couple of women even went so far as to say that they wouldn't choose a short man unless their only other choices were murderers and child molesters."
For the last 24 hours I have been trying to think of popular people in the media who were short and well liked. I could only come up with a few: Michael J. Fox, Martin Short, and Seth Green. Something else that came into my mind was a song I heard when I was a child, only one line has ever stuck in my memory, not because that is what I believe but because I just could not believe someone would say it. It was the Randy Newman song, called Short People. Remember the line? "Short people got no reason to live." Apparently, the song was to have the opposite effect it did.
Now that I have been educated I thought it important others were too. I hope this is yet another step on shedding some light on the inadequacies of discrimination in our society. Fat people are not alone in their fight for respect and equality.
M. E. Wood has been the editor of the Large and Lovely site at BellaOnline.com for eight years. Come shopping with her at www.PlusShe.com.