Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Me & My Short Life

It hit the headlines this week that Prime Minister David Cameron joked that John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, was in fact one of the seven dwarfs - sparking media debate over the issue of 'heightism' and whether it exists or not.

I myself am a diminutive four feet and eleven inches small. If there's a short joke going, I've heard it. I've lived a life down on this level and I'm sure I've been impacted in some way, maybe traumatised, by the lack of inches on my height. Have I been disadvantaged by it? Probably not. But here's a walk through my short life...

  • Being appointed Goal Keeper or Goal Shooter in seemingly every game of netball in PE at school... what kind of sick teachers exist out there?!
  • When not signing myself up for an event on sports day, I was allocated the High Jump... what kind of sick teachers exist out there?!
  • When working in a tea room at the age of 14, being given the job of dish washer because I was 'too short' to be a waitress (maybe because I couldn't reach the tea pots... but could it have been because I wasn't deemed tall enough to face the visiting public?!).
  • Having to stand on tip toes, or on that funny ledge thing, to see over the bar in any pub, or coffee shop on the highstreet....
  • .... never getting served because barmen don't register your existence....
  • .... then getting beer dripped on your head as fellow customers walk away............ ok, let's leave the bar.
  • Having to stand on a step in all of my wedding photos despite the three inch heels.
  • Having to wear three inch heels.
  • Having to ignore Gok Wan's advice to short people about wearing maxi dresses because all the maxi dresses on the high street are longer than I am.... though find me an elasticated maxi skirt and I can rock that thing with a belt under the bust and no one need know!
  • When registering at the doctors my height was not given on the BMI chart so the nurse just looked me up and down and told me I 'looked okay'.
  • Being told by an American that if I were American I would be 'registered disabled' and would get to go to University for free (because presumably I wouldn't qualify for a basketball scholarship?!)
  • When I first got together with my husband my brother-in-law drove passed us while we were holding hands and wondered if Jon had abducted a child.
  • Constantly being told 'good things come in small packages'.
  • Having nick names like 'Midge', 'Ickle' and 'Shortie'.... very imaginative I know!
  • Never being able to reach what I want in the supermarket.
  • Being told that as a full grown adult I'm only just allowed to sit in the front seat of the car (I've yet to negotiate seeing over the dashboard to actually drive one).

Can you tell I'm standing on a step, wearing three inch heels and have a hairstyle to add a couple of centimetres, and I'm still short in comparison to my 6ft2in husband!

Do I feel I've been discriminated against? No.

Heightism isn't a thing. If you were denied a job on the basis of your height then yes that could be a form of discrimination - as long as you were equally able to fulfil the job role. If someone makes a joke about your height, is it nice? Is it polite? No. Is it funny? Sometimes. Should David Cameron have said what he said? No. Is it discrimination? No.

Discrimination on the basis of colour, creed, race or sexuality is wrong. It is deeply rooted in historical issues where people have been considered less of a human being, or unable to live in equality to others purely because of the colour of their skin, country of origin, gender or sexuality. 

No, we cannot choose how tall we become but this is what makes us unique! And sometimes the things that make us unique also make us funny, or interesting, or give us a sense of identity. And these things also might provoke a joke or two. 

Don't get me wrong, if heightism does become a thing, I'll be suing all of you tall people who have ever used me as a leaning post, all you businesses who put your counters up high, all you restaurants who put your mirrors up high, hell I might even use tax payers money to get myself a nice, adapted car so I can see the road! I could be a millionaire! But until that day comes let's learn to laugh at ourselves and to know when a joke is a joke, and when discrimination is discrimination.

3 comments:

  1. I love the way you have wrote this with so much humour. It did make me giggle, obviously laughing at what you said and not your height!

    I suspect in many years to come heightism will indeed exist, so many other ridiculous rules out there, why not add one more to the pile eh?

    Thank you for linking up with the #WeekendBlogHop

    Laura x xx

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  2. Only being those three inches taller than you I can relate a little to this shortage of inches. Having married a man of 6' 2" and with two children, who take after him, I am by far the shortest on that side of the family and like you Emily I can't reach anything up high. But some good points

    1. We don't have to reach so far to the floor
    2. It's not so far down if we fall over, so less painful
    3. If a man insults us we're on the right level, if you get my meaning lol

    You did however brighten my day with this blog because it reminded me that my children laugh at me any time I sit on a seat and my feet don't touch the floor, they say I look like a gnome, so you're not alone and I find it quite funny.

    I've also had the one about 'Good things in Small Packages' said to me, so from one short person to another, let me know if the laws change and we'll sue them together lol.

    Sharon :-)

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  3. Thanks ladies! And Sharon, I totally get your meaning ;) ... and I never reach the floor when sitting on chairs, particularly deep sofas. And once I'm on a bar stool? That's me staying put for the night, because trying to climb down is too embarrassing!

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