All Hail: The long and short of it

In his song, “Short People,” Randy Newman sang, “Short people got no reason to live.” Well Mr. Newman, let me tell you something: I got plenty of reason to live.

Born about 16 inches long, I am now 19 years old and 4 feet, 11 inches. My family (consisting of more than 150 people) has an average height of about 5 feet, with one misfit uncle who reached the height of 5 feet, 10 inches.

And although short, I plan to do and achieve much in my life, however shocking that may be to Mr. Newman. I plan to use my stature to my advantage in every way possible, as I always have.

When I was younger, my small height proved to have many benefits. Besides being able to hide in dryers when playing hide-and-seek and receiving everyone’s cool hand-me-downs, it was my size that allowed me to excel in the sports I dedicated much of my younger life to: cheerleading and gymnastics.

According to research by Thomas Samara, who has published more than 16 papers on the positive aspects of shorter height and smaller body size, it was the physical advantages of my shorter height – like the ability to rotate faster, accelerate body movement and stronger muscles in proportion to body weight – that made me the perfect candidate for cheerleading and gymnastics (not to mention it was easy to throw me high).

Samara includes diving, skiing, figure skating, soccer and rodeo riding as other sports short people generally excel in.

As I got older, I came to realize being a short girl gave me an added bonus when it came to guys.

Although my guy friends constantly teased me – often calling me “my size Megan” and telling everyone to check their shoes to ensure no one had stepped on me – many of them have often admitted my size made me “extra cute and lovable.”

Sadly, I cannot say short guys experience the added bonus when it comes to girls, for even I don’t date short guys. My current boyfriend is the shortest guy I have ever dated, and he is 5 feet, 7 inches.

Other pros I have found include less physical activity at work, since some think small people can’t carry heavy objects or find a way to reach items (even though I am usually capable of doing such work). I do not take up much space (always a plus when you need to squish into a cab).

In other research, Samara points out that shorter, smaller people have increased longevity, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and less negative impact on the environment because they have less surface area and consume fewer resources.

But, I must admit there are also plenty of low points to being short. According to a 2006 study by Anne Case and Christina Paxson of Princeton University, shorter people not only make less money than taller people, but also are less intelligent.

Personally, I think saying short people are less intelligent is like saying people who can sing are more likely to eat apples – they just do not correlate.

Another major gripe: pants and shoes are hard to come by.

There are very few clothing and shoe stores that actually carry my size. Small-sized shirts are usually sold out (note to bigger people: buy the right size – regular shirts do not need to be skin-tight or show off your belly button). Even size-1 short or kid’s size 14 pants are too big for me (why should I have to spend extra money on tailoring?) and my women’s size-5 foot is right between women’s and kids shoe sizes so it takes a time-consuming hunt to find the perfect pair.

Other cons of being short include the inability to reach the top shelf, the expectation that you will dress as an oompa lumpa or smurf for Halloween and amusement park height requirements (take it from me, its not fun being kicked off a roller coaster after waiting two hours in line).

However, when all the low points start to get me down, I just think of all the short celebrities I have to look up to. With Kylie Minogue (5 feet), Shakira (5 feet), Judy Garland (4 feet, 11 inches), Jada Pinkett Smith (4 feet, 11 inches) and Mother Theresa (5 feet) on the short side of the spectrum, I know I got a reason to live.

– Megan Jicha is a sophomore journalism and communications major and a member of The News staff.

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