• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

The case for smaller people to get on their high horse

IT'S time for small people to stand up and look the world directly in the knee.

The latest insults, from the lofty heights of academe, belittle our compact and bijou brethren, casting aspersions on their competence, likeability and even their psychological state.

I speak as someone of average height — just over 5ft 9, inching towards 5ft 10, depending on the size of my trainers. But, increasingly, I feel small. I was never, until recently, even aware of my height or lack thereof. However, as young persons continue to shoot for the Moon, I feel, you know, insufficient.

Suffice to say, I've done the academics a disfavour as, like journalists of old, they're only reporting what they found, not what they believe. The boffins under advisement — Professor Daniel Freeman, of yonder Oxford University, and Jason Freeman, a psychology writer — deployed "immersive virtual reality" to reduce subjects' heights by 25cm (10 inches in old money).

Using simulated tube train journeys at both normal and abbreviated height, they monitored how the virtually foreshortened changed how they viewed other people's intentions towards them. The result? Increased feelings of inferiority, weakness, incompetence and paranoia.

Whoa! Translate these four words into Latin and you have the motto on my family crest. For, if the news is disturbing for our wee comrades, there's naught for the comfort either of we who aspire to be average.

Example: the first thing the authors note is that most men exaggerate their height. Correct. I am exactly 5ft 9in, regardless of wind direction. They also note previous scientific-style findings that tall people are more likely to go on to higher (even the name is biased) education, get bigger salaries and find more sexual partners.

The high and mighty enjoy greater happiness and self-esteem. Basically, they've got the world on a stick. The only good news is that they're more likely to be bitten by midges.

Now, although I believe science has a small place in establishing truth, I've always placed greater store on anecdote and on reality as I find it in my actual life, ken?

Here, therefore, are my findings, shortly to be published in the Journal of Applied Supposition (available in some good supermarkets). Firstly, it's undoubtedly true that women value height in men. If you offered a woman a small man with a lovely personality and a tall man with no personality, not only would they plump unhesitatingly for the latter, but they'd lie about the reason for their choice.

Every choice a woman makes is based on survival of the species. That's an anecdotal fact. You can't argue with it. Secondly, smallness is a cause for insult: "Ya wee so-and-so!" You hear it at the football all the time, only the expressions deployed are less mellifluous than so-and-so.

Mind you, at the football, anyone even slightly stocky is a sumo wrestler and, if there's nothing obvious with which to insult a player, they'll pick some infinitesimal characteristic: "Haw, you with the slightly misaligned eyebrows, ye're mingin'!" But enough of Sir Alex Ferguson's team-talks.

Thirdly, the world is getting taller. Or so it seems. I used to be able to hold my head high, to look out over a sea of similarly sized men, lo, even unto the far horizon. However, last time I stood in a crowded pub, I was at shoulder height to everybody else. I'd become small. It's the tragedy of ageing, and I wish the authorities had warned us about it. Even if you don't get smaller, the emerging young get taller.

But it can't be universal. Sure, the Dutch are tall, as a result of being force-fed calcium-rich cheese when they were weans. But, at the massive university science campus near Wit's End — ma hoose — I marvel at the smallness of the mostly international students.

All sorts of hobbits, dwarves and goblins hirple aboot the place. Science, perhaps, has stunted them. In that sense, competitively speaking, it has done those of us of average height a favour. But its latest findings are of little comfort to the diminutive.

It is my earnest hope that, one day, they will get up on their high horse and fight back.

Contextual targeting label: 
Education

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

209385