Dear Tender-hearted reader
My husband is 5'2”! (notice how, it's likely if you are a man and you are reading this blog, you'll be cringing about now AND if you are a woman you are also very likely to have an unflattering reaction. Heightism, especially in the US, truly unrecognized, unconscious prejudice. It runs rampant without our conscious awareness.
David has been sharing more of his history as a 'short guy' with me of late.
I was thinking about how the culture often says short men have a Napolean complex. They are always butting in, getting loud, shoving their agenda in everyone's faces. While that may be the way short men sometimes behave, it is also true that there really is no way to get a word in without making a scene for the short guy. David reports that when he's talking to two guys over 6' tall, they are not going to HEAR him. He's starting to say things like, 'even if I'm a short guy, I still have something to say!” Most guys, though, don't get it. They are unconscious about the short man prejudice and they are likely to consider his remark an interruption...
What's the point here? I'm really not meaning to say David is a victim of the prejudice, he is only a victim if he doesn't notice and doesn't know how to speak up for himself. I have witnessed him trying so hard to be seen and heard, often trying to be the funniest and most engaging guy in the room. It hurts my heart to witness his effort.
The US culture is so very geared towards appearances. If you happen to be white, tall and male – things are good. That leaves off the bulk of the population. How sad and how empty is this? We are not what we look like – we are the creative spark of the universe that comes through each of our own hearts.
A friend of ours who happens to be 6' 4” heard us sharing our growing awareness about the short man prejudice, so he suggested a website called www.supportfortheshortman.com. I think the only way we have to turn this particular 'ism' around is one by one. This blog is a consciousness raising attempt to “out” this prejudice.
For the past month since we started this conversation, I decided to try an experiment. I am imagining that David is 6' 2” to see if that makes a difference in our 30 year marriage. I'm sorry to say, it does, it has. I thought I had a lot of consciousness about this issue, after all, I've experienced the same thing in being a 'round' woman. However, I am really waking up now on a whole new level. I notice that, since he's 6' 2”, I am less likely to tell him what to do, to micromanage him. I notice that I listen more deeply and more frequently to what he has to say. I notice I walk WITH him more, rather than hurrying ahead. I seem to have a greater sense of who he is. This is only two weeks into the experiment – I am likely to find out more about how I have unconsciously been dissing him. I've also been asking him to let me know if he notices other ways I might be in the prejudice that I can't see.
This is astoundingly healing for our marriage. We also work on affirmations most mornings. We say things like “even though I'm a short man, I have a huge heart and a tall spirit.” “I don't have to push my way into the conversation, I can speak kindly, clearly and powerfully.” “I can speak up for myself any time I want to do so.” “Every time I champion myself now, my past pain about being short gets healed.” This doesn't mean that we have fixed this whole issue – it is progress not perfection.
There is a short poem I wrote 20 years ago addressing this very issue. David and I were leading a relationship weekend in Colorado when I shared it for the first time.
So no-one thinks we have anything to say
But, they were wrong and we were right
And, the whole universe expresses itself through us tonight...
Working through issues of self limitation and cultural prejudice has benefit for all sentient beings. Please join me in my quest to SEE short men as beautiful; as another expression of the Divine...
All honor to you, tender-hearted reader!