Thursday, October 16, 2008

Warning: Post May Contain Actual Human Emotions

If there is one thing on this Earth I have a sense of humor about, it’s my height. Or, rather, the lack thereof.

During my first attempt at Algebra II, I sat next to my very lanky friend Jim. He often wore green, so we called him the Jolly Green Giant. One day I wore green, and became Sprout. That nickname stuck for umpteen many years. Also, whenever I wear that color around my sister, she'll start shaking me and demanding my pot of gold.

On the whole, I’ve learned a valuable lesson: don’t wear green.

I’ve learned another valuable lesson: know your boundaries. And communicate them, with calmness and clarity.

I’m amused and pleased when Lemmonex offers to carry me home in her purse, or when my former coworkers would stuff me into small spaces around the office to see if I’d fit. Because I know when I’m being picked on, and when it’s just adorably warped affection. I don’t expect my friends to carry around a comprehensive list of what does and does not offend me. Of course, the list of what does offend me would be ridiculously short (racism, sexism, saying something mean about someone I care about).

But one thing that drives me nuts is this: implying my figure is somehow inferior or a symbol of what’s wrong with America. I’m short, I have a small frame, these are my factory settings and they cannot be altered. I wish people would stop referring to plus-size or curvy women as “real women.” It implies women like me are somehow imaginary. All bodies are different, and it’s possible to feel good about yourself without tearing others down.

And, women, stop asking me to apologize for how I’m built. I cannot tell you how many conversations I’ve had with groups of women where they comment on my smallness as if there’s no “me” attached to any of it, then demand my dress size, measurements, and bra size. And after that, they want an apology for the grossly unfair beauty standards of twisted America. I wind up feeling picked on, belittled, and objectified.

This isn’t a cry for pity. I’m aware of how ridiculous it sounds to be all “woe is me” about life as a size 2. I wouldn't complain that my pile of pirate treasure takes up too much space, or that I can't decide which Porsche to drive. I like my body, and I wouldn't trade it for anyone else's. And, honestly, I don’t care all that much about how I look. What I do care about is being judged for it, being taken less seriously because of my appearance, or being treated like that’s the sum total of who I am.

I promise I’ll be funny tomorrow. Today I decided to have a feeling or two (in case you were wondering, blog-as-therapy is usually a sign that I have writer's block).

41 comments:

bh said...

I'm 5'9". Not 9 1/2. 5'9". I was tiny as a child/teenager and just managed to get to average height before I stopped growing. I've been at peace with my height since I was 21. Hell, the whole world is built for somebody my height: Cars, Furniture, and until recently, Airplanes. It's pretty nice.

Yet people still feel the need to point out that they think I'm short, even though, by any measure, I am not (especially on the East Coast). It's sort of annoying.

I don't know when everyone decided that if you weren't at least 6'0" you had no value in the world, but it occured.

I wish I had something funny to add.

Shannon said...

BH - Ah, a group therapy session! And 5'9" is average height. I'm 5'2"ish, which is below average for women. I had my sofa's legs cut down so there'd be one piece of furniture out in the world where my feet would touch the floor.

Zipcode said...

I have a really good friend your frame and she says the same things you are. I would love to be your size actually, I hate being tall and having boobs lol funny how some of us hate what others want.

You are you and thats what makes you awesome!

Boo to the haters! I having a bad case of self esteem today as well - I almost decided on Hooters for lunch, but I don't need to be reminded of how I used to look like.

I get the you have a such a pretty face, you should loose 20 pounds speech sometimes, bite me assholes, I am 100 percent German and its how I am made. ok I digress
hugs

Lemmonex said...

Thank God I released you from my purse so you can write this. You know I kid because I love...and thanks for recognizing this.

In all seriousness, I know the feeling. I was picked on constantly for being 36C in FOURTH GRADE. When I got older, my chest kinda became...my thing. Everyone was talking about it, so why not vamp it up, ya know? Also, a weird thing to complain about, I know, but sometimes I truly think people don't take me seriously because of it.

You are a smart, witty woman who writes better than pretty much anyone I know. If people cannot see that, or objectify you, because of your height, I will punch them. Or maybe slap them with my right boob (that one is bigger....)

bh said...

FWIW, my current girlfriend is 5'2" and I'm a big fan. I'm man enough to admit I'm uncomfortable dating tall women.

The furniture thing is pretty funny.

For all you haters: Rumor has it the Netherlands is the tallest country on earth.

Shannon said...

Zip - People actually still say the "you have such a pretty face" bit? Good lord. Next time I hear it, I'll climb onto my stepladder and beat them on the head for you.

Lem - Thank you. Actually, your purse is really comfortable. There's usually a flask of liquor or two. But next time, throw a flashlight in so I can try on all your makeup.

And, wow. I didn't fill out at all until college, so I couldn't even imagine filling out in the fourth grade.

Shannon said...

BH - The most fun I ever had was visiting Ecuador...everyone was 4'9". I felt like Godzilla.

Ibid said...

I like short women. I like tall women. Women in general are a positive thing.
What bugs me is when I see a really cute short woman somewhere and can't tell if she's in her late 20's or a mature looking 14. Will we click or will I get arrested?
I hit on Shannon and Chris Hanson hasn't shown up. I guess I'm safe.

Zipcode said...

Yep some guy in my office - I advised him he needed a bottle of proactive - its not like I am freaking cow or anything.
Thought I don't know you in real life - kudos to what lemm said - you are one helluva writer.
I'll shoot your haters with beanbag rounds.

Velvet said...

I'm quite mediocre at 5'5 I suppose. I don't know what it is like to see over the pack or be smaller than it. But I do know that I went to Nordstroms for their famed bra-fitting abilities, and the girl said, "if you could change one thing about your breasts, what would it be?" I said, "I'd make them smaller." She said, "In all my years of doing this, I've never actually heard that answer."

We all accept parts of what we are and have parts we want to change. Good for you for accepting and not apologizing for your height. And if you come across that pot of gold, please share!

Shannon said...

Ibid - Actually, I tend to look younger than I am, which is why I have a hard time being taken seriously. And don't worry, I haven't been jailbait in nearly 14 years.

Zip - Thank you. But could you Tase the haters instead? With your pink Taser? That would rule.

Velvet - I won't share me pot o' gold at the end o' me rainbow, but you can have some gold from the pirate treasure.

bh said...

That's funny, because that's how I feel when I visit NY. It's awash in short guys. I feel like Shaquille O'Neal.

On the other hand, when I go home to Texas I feel like an Munchkin.

jo said...

I am very average size, 5'6 size 10. However, if I let myself, I gain weight pretty easily, so I have to work pretty hard to maintain and/or reduce my size.

What bugs me is not petite people, it's petite people who exagerate. Example, my sister is 5 feet and a quarter and a size 0. Every once in a while she has the nerve to say to me "well if I didn't go to the gym I'd be huge". She's been a size 0 for the past 10 years (She still fits in her prom dress) and only in the past years has she started to go to the gym. That's just patronizing to the rest of us.

Shannon said...

BH - I wonder if guys adapt to the close confines of New York by staying small! Or, more likely, they're compensating by moving somewhere competitive like New York.

Jo - It's patronizing, but I do sort of get where your sister is coming from. I'm often expected to make excuses for the way I look, and sometimes I put my foot in it when I'm just trying to make someone feel better. So I've stopped trying, and I just change the subject instead.

Doug said...

being tall isn't all that its cracked up to be. I bang my head a lot. I have farther to fall when I trip.

The only downfall I can see to being on the shorter side is that you probably wouldn't win the Presidency. The average US president is around 5'11 or so. That's the primary reason McCain is going to lose, he's only 5'7. Poor guy, someone should have probably informed him of this stat before he ran ;)

Ibid said...

Short people live longer. There are miles less veins and arteries so there's less to go wrong. And the heart is closer to the brain.

LivitLuvit said...

I wouldn't change a damn thing about you either. As they say, it's not how you look, it's how you ROCK it. And rock it you do, my dear.

Shannon said...

Doug - I've never really wanted to be tall...one blessing is that I can fly coach in relative comfort.

Ibid - Short people ain't got no reason to live.

Shannon said...

Liv - Aw, come on over here so I can give you a hug, then slap that butt of yours. (....uh, hi Dad!)

zipcode said...

ah yes the pink taser - I shall tase away.

Ibid said...

If you were 6ft tall you'd have a much harder time finding a tall guy. Being short opens your dating pool considerably.

If you're short even modestly endowed men seem respectably sized and guys like me are downright intimidating.

Plus, when raccoons get in the ducts you can go in and clear them out.

[F]oxymoron said...

Dynamite comes in small packages. And apparently it is bundled with some kick ass writing skillz too. Don’t let the (WOE)man bring you down, cause I need me some good blog reading.

Shannon said...

Zip - It's a Pepto-Taser!

Ibid - Luckily I developed claustrophobia in my mid-20s, or else I'd probably spend a lot of time climbing around ducts.

Foxy - Thank you. Really, I'm not prone to boo-hooing about meanies, but it does get on my nerves.

Ibid said...

I've been short, too. I'm still skinny. I've been stuffed in a few half lockers and crawled through some ducts.

I finally have an ass, but it's a pretty new development.

FoggyDew said...

You're short? Holy crap! Never noticed. Although I had forgotten about the whole "Sprout" thing. Thanks for reminding.

I shall now lurch off on my way hauling my 6'2" frame as best I can.

Shannon said...

Ibid - I didn't fill out until college, and I have a rather large head. I spent high school looking like a lollipop.

Foggy - Actually, you never noticed because you're convinced that I'm just the top of a head with a voice attached.

bh said...

As a very late bloomer, I spent more than my fair share of High School being sought out for "Dude, that's a tight squeeze, go get bh to get in there and grab that thing"

Which sounds sexual in all sorts of unpleasant ways.

One bonus of shortness: Tiny strike zone.

Aileen said...

It's interesting...I've never met you, but I've heard of you from other bloggers. I've heard you called "firecracker" and "feisty", extremely talented, and the kind of person that everyone notices when you walk into a room.

You may be wondering why others are speaking of you? Well, it's usually in a discussion of bloggers that we really like and admire.

It is clear to me that those that know you take you VERY seriously!

Aileen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shannon said...

BH _ I spent much of high school explaining that I was not, in fact, a boy.

Aileen - Wow. Thank you. I'm flattered and humbled all at once.

KassyK said...

most of my friends are really teeny. like size 00 and 5'2 teeny so to me, you are just right...the pocket thing is funny bc my best friend used to get told over and over that she was pocket sized as well. :)

being the only one over 5'3 in a group of girls called the "minis" should have been the bane of my existence, but like you, i embrace who i am.

i have three other best friends outside the group that are tall and we all embrace it...what was once uncomfortable is now a good thing.

if anything, i wish i was TALLER because my siblings are all 5'8 plus and i have height envy.

ps your hair is VERY strokable.

Justin said...

Shannon,

You are a babe, you must ignore the haters.

But when I'm not saying useless (but true) pleasantries, sorry to hear about that. So apparently they've done studies and if you ask men to describe their ideal woman, they describe someone very close to statistically average. If you ask women to describe what they think men want, they draw a stick figure with huge breasts. I'm tired of getting blamed for "wanting a 95 lb DD girl" (well, my gender, not me personally).

Girls (and guys) are silly about things like this. I'm digging up an old, old OKC journal post I made with my old account about how guys who who out with girls who are overweight get dinged for it, big time. http://www.okcupid.com/journal?pid=12974519486742903761&tuid=14827206417994822566

Not quite the same subject, but similar in theory.

You're cute and as far as I know, you are not starving yourself or anything crazy like that. Have fun - I can tell there are plenty of people who like you just the way you are :)

Shannon said...

Kass - Thanks! I'm stroking my hair right now.

Justin - Really, my babeness or lack thereof isn't the point. I don't like when people focus on the way I look to the exclusion of other things, or try to take me down a notch. It's annoying and intrusive.

Justin said...

Well, that's fair, I didn't mean to miss the point. I go through the same thing with height frequently - I can have a great rapport with a girl, she'll say "Gosh, how are you still single?", I'll ask her out, and she'll say "No, sorry, I only date 6' and up". 99% of the time I don't even think about it because if I do, I'll just become some bitter short guy with a complex. I'm allowed 1% of the time because there are some amazing girls that I am shocked would discount someone just because of one little superficial thing.

And people who try and take you down a notch should annoy you. People acting like jackasses annoys me, too. I like being made of for my height. On my terms. When people do it maliciously, it hurts just like any other insult.

Shannon said...

Justin - Women say that? 6'0" and up? Ouch, and on behalf of all the XXs, I apologize.

I don't mind being teased, but if I get flinchy or change the subject, then something must have struck a nerve. I get annoyed when it's obvious I'm hurt, and the person keeps at it. That isn't being funny, that's being a bully. I hate bullies.

Justin said...

Women shorter than you say that :)

And yeah, bullies suck. There's one who sits right next to me at the office. I can't stand him. I stand up to him all the time, but he still insists on being a douchebag. An ex nearly suckerpunched him, so I know it's not just me...

Thomas said...

I am usually pretty funny but my girlfriend broke up with me a few days ago. I still might be somewhat funny if you are grading on the curve.

lacochran's evil twin said...

Skinny bitch.

Hey, I do have an evil reputation to protect.

Shannon said...

Justin - I'm just stuck on the idea that there are women shorter than me!

Thomas - Give it a day or two, and almost any breakup becomes hilarious.

Twin - *snurfle* Owie.

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