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Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Does being short hold you back?

Boys in Australia are being held back at school because of their height, according to research.

Of course other factors like a child's maturity and ability figured into the equation, but their height may have "tipped the balance" in favour of keeping them back a year. The report found no relation between a girl's height and classroom success.

Do you think the research rings true? Have you ever been discriminated against because of your height? Do you think people treat the shorter among us any differently? Send us your views and experiences. HAVE YOUR SAY

Even though we try to ignore matters such as height, colour, and shape - we still find ourselves discriminating others for these reasons. It is unfortunate, but hey, that's life. Just accept and deal with who you are and make the most of it.
Drew, UK

Kids in Australia are discriminated for many other reasons than their heights more often than not for their lack of interest on "sports" especially if they are brighter than their athletic classmates.
Beryl Carnell, Australia

I'm constantly picked on for my height at the age of 28 and I'm sick of it. When will people learn that short people are not freaks for tall people to laugh at.
Gareth Carroll, UK

Who cares whether you are short or tall, it's not fair if you are held back from doing something.
Rachael Gates, United Kingdom



Who did this study? What a waste of time!

Stephen, USA
Who did this study? What a waste of time! Some of the greatest people this world has seen have been very short. Your height doesn't matter. I am very short but I am captain of the football team!
Stephen, USA

I think it might be possible to be discriminated against because of stature. However 2 of my very best friends are over 6' tall. I'm only 5'6". Both of the above friends are caring kind people. One cause of height discrimination here in England was the fact that Joe Brown (A so called singer) actually sang a song called "I don't Like Short People". But of course that only shows his own ignorance.
Ken, England



Short men often over-compensate and can be more aggressive to make up for their lack of stature.

Matt (5'3"), UK
It's been my experience that short men often over-compensate and can be more aggressive to make up for their lack of stature. This means that their competitive streak can actually lead to more "accomplishment" (several famous dictators spring to mind). This is a sweeping generalisation of course but you heard it from the horses mouth!
Matt (5'3"), UK

That is the silliest thing I've ever heard! Did someone pay good tax money for this study? Oh, by the way. I'm only 5 foot six inches tall and was always one of the shortest kids in my school when I was growing up.
Lance R Johnson, USA

Being short never held back many film and TV stars. It can be a problem if it means you can't reach things from shelves, see over people's heads in crowds, and catch the eye of the barman/maid. The only disadvantage I have is when shopping for clothes when retailers and dress designers seem to think everyone is over 5' 10". The thing to remember is that the best things come in small packages
Janice, UK

Being short can be a disadvantage, I've become a specialist at climbing supermarket shelves! I was also bullied at school partly to do with my height making me seem more vulnerable. On the other hand seeing as I like tall guys - nearly all are taller than me! In reality by the time you reach adulthood height is normally ignored. Though I can quite believe it will play a factor in discrimination against children at school.
Helen, UK

Children should be taught to realise that what matters is from the neck upwards, not down.
Caroline, UK

What about the really tall people? Like 6'5 and up, it's awful! Daddy long legs, giraffe, what's the weather like up there? These sort of things are what we constantly hear. And NO I do NOT play basketball!!!
Jill, Canada



There is no question that the general public at all ages assumes that taller equals better at sports, better at leadership, and smarter

Roman Hendrickson MD, USA
There is no question that the general public at all ages assumes that taller equals better at sports, better at leadership, and smarter. Short people have to be twice as good at everything to get noticed, play on sports teams, or advance to leadership positions.
Roman Hendrickson MD, USA

I'm 6'3", my sister is 5'7", we have the same parents and both of us are at universities in England. Height has nothing to do with intelligence, so why don't we all stop wasting money, time and energy on such useless topics of discussion and put the research into something useful such as creating more teachers or discussing social inequality caused by economic disparities, something that definitely affects children's chances at having a decent education.
Matthew Illsley, England

A person's height is set in stone---that cannot be changed. What governments should be concentrating on are more pressing problems, like the state of a nation's economy, it's schools and the general welfare of it's people---not their height.
Stacey, USA

I feel I have been discriminated against in the past, as I'm only 5 foot three and have been told that if I had of been taller I could of been a model, I'm 23 now and feel that it's very unfair that people are discriminated against because of their height.
Jo, England



At the ripe old age of 20, and being only 5'1", I can honestly say that my height doesn't bother me in the slightest!

Matthew, Switzerland
At the ripe old age of 20, and being only 5'1", I can honestly say that my height doesn't bother me in the slightest! Okay, I have to produce ID in pubs and so on more often than most people, but that's no great hassle. Just makes me more unique. Yeah, I got the bullying in school, but there are so many reasons that people get bullied - shortness is just one of them. Lets face it. It seems to me that in todays society, there is something "wrong" with everyone. None of us are perfect, and I love not being so! And as achievements go - well, I'm doing a degree in York, currently working for a large company in Switzerland on a year-out. I'm sure being tall wouldn't have helped me get the job ...
Matthew, Switzerland

My husband is over 6ft tall and I must say I tend to go for taller men as my "protector" was shorter. Men should realise (and this isn't a sweeping statement to them all) that sometimes making up for shortness of height with confidence can come across as aggressiveness instead.
Lisa , England

OHH YES
Jonathan O'Reardon, Britain



Like everything else about appearance, it is more a state of mind

Lou, UK
Well, well, well - what a surprise! They say you can interpret stats to say anything you want, I think the same can be said of surveys. I am 5'. I was the tallest person in my class in my early senior school years and subsequently the shortest by the time I left (early spurt!) My mates throughout life have all been of varying shapes and sizes, none of whom thought 'ooh, Lou - she's short! My boyfriend, is probably 'just below average' in height (if you consider there to be such a thing), but I can guarantee in nothing else. Like everything else about appearance, it is more a state of mind - if you make it an issue, other people will pick up on it. If you don't, they don't.
Lou, UK

I am 5"9 and still growing, but sometimes I find this a disadvantage, being short is quite cool.
Alex McCarthy, UK

I think that the idea of being short does not make any difference to your academic ability There are many people that I know who are short and they are very clever. I think the government should stop wasting money and start spending it on useful things such as the NHS.
Rob, UK

I am 5'8 (includes an added inch) and I have personally found being short to be an advantage. People do not tend to be intimidated by me which gives them a false sense of security. Watch out you tall people, here I come!
Martin Westcott, Britain



Yet another project by the 'Ministry of Silly Research'. Are people really paying to study this rubbish?

Ian, England
Yet another project by the 'Ministry of Silly Research'. Are people really paying to study this rubbish? I am 5'2" and although I have always been the shortest in any peer group since my school days it hasn't bothered me. People take me as I am. I try to make up for my lack of inches with my personality. It is our society at large that seems to have the problem. Comments such as "masculinity is based on height" and "tall, dark and handsome" are the sort of misguided perceptions perpetuated by TV commercials and the like, which sadly, society seems to be brainwashed by.
Ian, England

I'm 4'11" and I've been at university in Aberdeen for 4 years with no sign that I'll ever finish my thesis and start contributing to society. But that's probably because I'm hopeless.
Ian Miller, UK

Australia stands out in educational terms - schools rarely promote "advanced" children, and would not count IQ or high achievement as sufficient grounds to advance a child a grade. But, keep kids back seems to be the educational catch-cry. Children are frequently held back in pre-school! And a parent will tell you with pride they kept their darling back. If you ask for a child to be put ahead schools and other parents will regard you as a psychopath!
Ruth, Australia



Some shorter people have perhaps compensated for their lesser height with outstanding accomplishments, negative as well as positive.

Thomas Noerper, USA
There must be something to all of this, but what is most interesting is the way some shorter people have perhaps compensated for their lesser height with outstanding accomplishments, negative as well as positive. Consider Napoleon and Hitler, both alleged to have been below average height, and also Adam Ant and Iggy Pop in rock music. Clearly, biology is not destiny for men, either, as some shorter people have made great impacts in history, however regrettable or even specious these contributions may be at times.
Thomas Noerper, USA

I am 5'7 and though that is not short I have seen evidence of short people being discriminated against and this lowers their self confidence, their pride, their future (e.g. education). In my school it is certainly true that people notice boys heights more: a short one would be discriminated against.
Selena, HK, (Indian)



People should celebrate the fact that as human beings we are all sizes, shapes and colours. Instead, we get constant categorising.

Andie Baldie, England
Personally, I believe the study to be absolute rubbish. People should celebrate the fact that as human beings we are all sizes, shapes and colours. Instead, we get constant categorising and assumptions that only the best people are tall, or blond, etc. At 5'4" I have no problems with my height because I am past thinking about it and have other things to enjoy with in my life. What I do believe is duff surveys do more harm than good by making anyone with perceived imperfections feel abnormal. In this world where too much importance is given to looks and shapes, we should focus or energies on the wonderful things we can do and enjoy rather than the things we can't change about ourselves.
Andie Baldie, England

I noticed women tend to prefer tall guys, since they're seen as more capable of "protecting" them. We are far from the caveman age now and physical characteristics should not matter much in 21st century. Even when it comes to "masculine" abilities, shorter men are more agile and stable than tall opponents. When it comes to a fight, tall men are not often victors, unless they've been trained to use their feet and arms to benefit.
Sasha, UK

I think short people have a right to be worried - I'm tallish (about 6ft 1) and quite large, and tend to eat about three or four short people a day. I find those between 4 foot 8 and 5 foot are the tastiest, as their muscles haven't got too gristly from having to lug excess weight around!
Dan Norcott, UK



"The bigger you are the harder you fall!"

Matt Shelley, London, UK
The 'average' sized rugby players flattened me regularly when I was in school. Who wants to be 'average' though? I take full advantage of being shorter and younger looking than my colleagues. Any young short people who are thinking that this report may be right should remember, "The bigger you are the harder you fall!" I bet the next study will be "Why 'average' height people didn't reply to this article?"
Matt Shelley, London, UK

I agree with Mick Philby, the press picks up yet another 'tall story' and attempts to present it as scientific fact or statistical evidence for some previously unnoticed 'fact of life'. This type of 'information' should be given 'short shrift' by people of all sizes.
Neil Hastings, USA



My own wife even told me that she wished I were taller!

Vince, UK
Absolutely. At 5'2 I often find myself feeling that some people "look down" at me, and that people find it difficult to take me seriously. (This is not helped by having a "youthful" face). My own wife even told me that she wished I were taller!
It's a sad fact of life that human nature causes people to judge us by our outward appearance, and it's something that "shorties" just have to come to terms with.
Vince, UK

I think being slightly taller than average is definitely beneficial in terms of a person's career. Taller people have always seemed to do better. It's no big deal though, being short and successful aren't mutually exclusive and in today's workplace discrimination is such that if you're a black middle class woman you could be 4'3" and still find work everywhere
Arnold Reatty, England

In general, tall people have a superiority complex and short people an inferiority complex. It all depends what is meant by short. However, bias towards tallness is endemic within the most cultures due to the subconscious belief they have a better chance of survival and procreation than their shorter contemporaries.
This is founded on human evolution, where it once held true, but it must be remembered that human evolution has all but stopped in most physiological terms.
Tom, UK



Being short is pretty good, girlfriends parents trust you, cars/planes/trains etc are comfortable.

Simon Dickinson, England
This is just the latest in a series of anti-short propaganda being spouted by insecure or ignorant tall people. If you were to believe everything published about short men it would mean that we are all infertile, incapable of finding a mate, held back at school and passed over for promotion and more likely to die early.
Really being short is pretty good, girlfriends parents trust you, cars/planes/trains etc are comfortable, you don't have to stoop in old country pubs and you have no problem in buying clothes that fit. Personally, I have had many girlfriends, two fiancées (one of which was 6ft1") am married with a lovely daughter, run my own business, have lived in Europe and the USA through promotion in a previous company and can highly recommend it medically for low blood pressure.
Simon Dickinson, England

I'm fairly short at 5'6", but this has little impact on my life. OK, I'm seldom the tallest person in the room, but confidence can make you seem taller. One can fixate on any imperfection, but it's up to us whether we let such irrelevancies rule our lives. Self-confidence, self-worth and self-respect are all that are important.
PB, UK



Smaller folk are often described as pushy or aggressive.

Henbane, UK
I suspect that you are taken more seriously if you are taller irrespective of whether you are male or female in the workplace where person to person interactions are concerned. Observing meetings using this criteria are very revealing... However, this does not apply to written or analytical presentations which are judged on merit and content. Smaller folk are often described as pushy or aggressive - probably because they have to try a lot harder to get noticed.
Henbane, UK

At only 5ft tall, I think I am well qualified to speak! Short people either have a height complex or, like me, simply accept the diversity of human heights being as inevitable as diversity of eye colour or width. Should children be held back because they have grey eyes instead of blue? Or because they are left-handed?
What could be wrong is the attitude of some short people - pugnacious little dictators trying to bully their way out of the feeling of inferiority they have when they have always to physically look up to other people. What proportion of class bullies or clowns are below average height? Are these the ones being held back? Girls, being shorter on average, are used to looking up at people without feeling it any adverse reflection on their status so perhaps they don't try to compensate in other ways.
So perhaps it is the lack of height which leads to other problems which result in the boys being held up, not the lack of height in its own right.
Jenni, UK

Many years ago I was kept out of the school swimming team due to my height, despite being considerably faster than most of those swimmers in the team. The explanation given was that I would not progress as quickly as the taller swimmers as we grew. However, at inter-house events I consistently won the 100 and 200 meters breaststroke, right up until the sixth form. I was very disappointed about this - particularly since it was the only sport I was ever any good at.
A. Farnese, UK



Must go, got to go buy a pair of 6" platform shoes...

Nicola, England
I am 5'1" short and I must admit that, certainly at school, I got picked on by classmates and mostly ignored by teachers. But I think I turned out OK. It seems that tall people automatically get respect, whereas us wee ones get looked down upon, and career wise possibly overlooked. I have also known some very short men who seem to think they can make up for being shorter than average by being more unpleasant or ruthless. Must go, got to go buy a pair of 6" platform shoes...
Nicola, England

What is all this? Every week we hear of some dubious statistical inference being drawn about height, gender, date of birth or whatever else, and its effect on material, academic or some other type of success, without regard for the ten million other factors which could be responsible. It's always presented as some kind of gee-whiz "finding" as well. I suspect that the practitioners of the pseudo-science of sociology are getting "short" of PhD topics, and need to justify their continued funding!
Mick Philby, Canada

I haven't had much discrimination in reference to height (being 5 foot, and 23 years, yet I am a female maybe it is different for men) Though people think I look younger than I am. I have never not got a job or not passed a level because of my height. If anything, I use it to my advantage.... buying children's clothes etc etc. I can see the disadvantage to children who want to play different sports, but I don't think it should make any difference to educational grades. If they are it would be the same as the black and white issue!
Rachel Burgess, Canada



When will society learn that physical appearances are not what are important.

Dee, USA
When will society learn that physical appearances are not what are important. I fall on the other end of the spectrum being a very tall female (6'2) and can say that it is a bit tougher because people are intimidated by me although I am somewhat attractive, fit, sensitive, and educated person. I wouldn't know if I ever have been discriminated against just because of the fact that I am a woman. Every human being has something to offer this world whether they be tall or short. I find that a positive attitude about yourself goes a long way and most of the time people don't even notice your height after a time. And if they do, then they have the problem.
Dee, USA

I think it would hold you back: a key part of how we determine 'masculinity' is height.
WGS, UK

This must be true for men as women are said to prefer those who are tall, dark and handsome.
JN, London, England


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