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The Long and Short of Height

Gila Arnold

Despite being “vertically challenged,” I have rarely felt handicapped by my height. True, I remember feeling anxious as I waited in line at the amusement park, praying that I would pass the ride’s height requirement. Still, I felt I’d fared better overall than my tall friends who, after being teased in elementary school for their height, faced limited choices in shidduchim as adults. And yet much research — as well as natural instinct — indicates it’s the tall people of the world who come out, er, on to

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

measuring a boys heightTake income, for example. An Australian study found that men standing at least six feet tall tend to earn more money than their shorter counterparts. Similarly, even though a minority (15.5 percent) of American men are six feet or taller, they comprise more than 30 percent of the country’s top earners. Stature gives a proven advantage both in getting hired and in being promoted to higher level, top-paying positions.

Height also brings people to the top of the social ladder. Let’s face it: when you’re tall, people see you as a leader. As the pasuk tells us about King Shaul, “From his shoulders upward, he was taller than the whole nation.” (Shmuel I 9:2) A crowd naturally turns to a tall person to show them the way, assuming he sees more from his vantage point — both literally and figuratively.

As I can attest from personal experience, when a short person and a tall person stand together, others tend to focus on the tall person, assuming he is in charge. It’s therefore no mystery why many world leaders have been tall. (With notable exceptions, which are always proudly cited in articles touting shortness: Napoleon, Caesar, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Franco. Maybe there’s a correlation between shortness and megalomania?)

Tall people may have one more key advantage, according to researchers Kanazawa and Reyniers who analyzed results from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, They suggest that tall people are — ouch — more intelligent. Almost makes a short person want to crawl back into his cave.


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