Being Short: The Benefits and Disadvantages


Kami Huff, Staff Writer

Anyone who knows me knows that I am “vertically challenged.” My petite height of four feet nine inches has brought humor to others over the years. On the flipside, it has often made me wonder what it would be like to be tall. Would it change my perspective on life? Would it make no difference to me at all? Based on this curiosity, it is important to understand all the facts about human height and the ins and outs of being deemed short in the eyes of others. There are things that are great about having below average height and there are obvious downfalls. For those like me, every stance matters.

In order to discuss the pros and cons of having a short stature (such as mine), it is important to understand how height is determined from individual to individual. In the scientific genetic world, human height is considered a polygenic trait. This means that multiple genes influence the trait for height, resulting in a bell curve. This explains why some are tall, some are short, and some are average.  Research shows that height can be expressed by the influence of over 700 different genetic variations, which come from both one’s father and one’s mother. However, there is also some evidence showing that each parent’s gene influencing an offspring’s height functions slightly differently. Now, scientists think that the father’s genes have a great effect on growth on their child. Some of the mentioned 700 variations may be due to crossing over during meiosis, independent assortment, mutations, and other forms of genetic recombination during reproduction. Therefore, due to other factors, just because your parents are short or tall, does not always mean that you will also be. However, the majority of the time, this is the case. 

So, once the characteristics and the polygenic trait for height is shown for an individual during their childhood, this is the stepping stone for the rest of their life. A person’s height can end up being not only a physical trait, but a factor in wellbeing as well. People of average height may not put a second thought into how many feet they stand in, but every inch can matter to someone who is abnormally tall or abnormally short. It’s important to keep mental health in mind when considering the height of another because how each person feels about their own height is very different. For example, someone who is very short may already feel self-conscious about their lack of height and teasing them‒while playful‒may not be the best idea. On the flipside, a tall person may be extremely confident about their height and may not mind the teasing comments about how high they stand. Self-love is extremely important, no matter how tall you are. It’s important to view your own qualities with high regard but also to accept your weaknesses. It may not be easy to do this without encouragement from peers.

That being said, after growing up short, I have been able to realize all of the advantages that come with being small. For day to day life, being shorter makes it easier to be in small spaces with no worry. There is always room for you on the elevator, riding in cars is never a problem no matter what type, and your head will never touch low ceilings. For short girls, our height often can make us feel more feminine and high heels were made to look stunning on our feet. It’s also shown that sometimes shorter people can have more success in sports because we are often faster (for me in cheerleading, tumbling is a breeze, and I get great height in skills!). On the health side, being short means less chance of blood clots and a lower risk for many cancers. Research also shows that less height sometimes means longer lifetime. So, contrary to what many may think, us “shorties” have several useful benefits that others do not.

Unfortunately, anything that comes with good things also comes with bad. Being short can be a terrible thing when it comes to any concept day-to-day that requires reaching. People like me many times have to become excellent climbers in order to reach items on the top shelves in kitchens, grocery stores, and even at school or work. Talking to others can potentially cause neck and shoulder pain from constantly having to look up. Also, huge crowds can be terrifying as we can easily be swept away or feel suffocated. Clothes shopping becomes exhausting as well because clothing items are always too long or too short. I’ve had to learn to sew in order to wear the clothes I love. From a medical standpoint, shorter people tend to lack social confidence, and it is extremely easy for us to be deemed “obese” due to the way BMI charts are determined. The negatives of being short may seem hasty, but they definitely are not a problem in the long run once evaluated thoroughly.

To sum up, the height of an individual can make a massive difference mentally, socially, and physically. Being a shorter person can come along with hardships as both a child and adult. It also comes with many benefits. It is unfortunate that the positives that come with being short are often clouded by society due to stereotypes. Basically, the most important thing in life is to love yourself and all of your strengths and weaknesses that come along with it. However, height should never be a weakness. After all, we are all different for a reason!