ShortI have a specific problem when it comes to dating. I mean, I have many problems (I’m attracted to unavailable guys, ranging from gay men to fictional characters), but there’s one that has significantly affected me.

I’m short. I’m 4’11”. I’ve been this size since I was about 12 years old. So, NO, to answer the question you were probably wondering and men on dates have actually asked me, I am not a little person. If you take a look at me – either by Googling me or assessing my corporeal being — you can tell that I am of average proportions.

Now, while there are obvious perks to being petite (Saving money by shopping in the children’s sections! Wearing high heels guiltlessly! Getting picked up spontaneously! Wearing a hoodie to a Mexican restaurant and getting a kid’s burrito!), there are some times where I do get the short end of the stick, pun heavily intended. I don’t just mean that I have to weed out all of the shady men who have a petite girl fetish, but something about being a short lady brings out the alpha — or, unfortunately, misogynistic — in some men in a variety of ways.

The worst thing a date has asked me was if he would “fit in me.” My first reaction to that question was repulsion. That’s not how you talk to a woman you barely know! But perhaps he assumed I was, you know, just a girl. Well, Sir, I am shorter than you, and I may be a few years younger than you, but I have a college degree and I’ve had my period for nearly a decade and a half. Not to mention, babies are designed to come out of me, and I’m pretty sure a baby is bigger than whatever it is you claim to be packing.

A large part of the problem, I confess, is that on a day-to-day basis I have to deal with the child-izing that men, well, all people, to do me. Yes, I made up that word. Like it? People like to typecast me as the plucky little girl. When I was pursuing musical theater after I graduated college, this was a great thing. I booked work as a four-year-old-mouse (I’m not kidding you!) in a children’s musical. While I am grateful for that experience, there comes a point as a woman where you think, Oh God, do I have to bind my barely there boobs? Must I maintain a waistline that is nearly non-existent? Real women have curves! Even if they don’t have height! 

Because of my size, I was always the “baby” in social situations, like Nick Carter was the “little brother” in The Backstreet Boys. To refute Mary Kate and Ashley’s song from the early 90′sit was actually me who was the cute one. As a means to combat this typecasting, I started overplaying my womanhood, especially in romantic situations, because after all, women claim their sexuality! Yeah! Girrrl power! However, these misguided attempts were not met with remarkable success.

I can recall being at a party in college for the cast of a show I was in at the time. I was playing – Surprise! – the role of a little girl, and I had a whopping crush on the guy I played opposite. He played an old dude, and we had all of our scenes together. I really wanted him. So I did the thing that college girls drinking beer out of a red Solo cup do: I propositioned him. And this was the worst part: He said no. He virulently turned me down. Why? Because he said he felt uncomfortable that I played the little girl opposite of him in the show.

What kind of man turns down such a blatant proposition?! Yeah, I know … we did have to work together. And who knows, the real reason might have been that he just thought I was unattractive. But I can’t help but suspect this was about him perceiving me as a little girl. This was about me being too petite to be sexual. This was about me being cute, not sexy. And this is at the crux of my ongoing dating problem: men tend to see me as child, which makes me undatable or unbangable or both. Was this how Baby Spice felt?!? Surely she got laid! Do I have to adopt a British accent or just find guys into that sort of pigtails thing? I don’t want to do that!

Now that I’m older, I’ve “claimed” my womanhood more than I had claimed it back in my collegiate days, I’ve mustered up enough self esteem to, for the most part, not let my height be my signature personality trait, because after all, my physical traits are not my personality. My work ethic, my ambition, my pratfalls, my confession that one time I accidentally ate bird food, are.

Despite all the issues that come along with my stature, I really like being short. I’m used to it. I don’t know what it’s like to be tall. The problem isn’t completely me — because there’s nothing I can do other than get leg implants, which quite frankly, seems like a crazywaste of time — it’s the men sizing me up (sorry the pun! I can’t help myself). I do, however, believe that I can play a role in how I’m perceived to some extent. The more I take ownership of my petite stature, the less men will make assumptions, or the more quickly I will weed out guys who assume that the size of my body is equivalent to the size of my heart, which, I assure you, is a hell of a lot bigger than 59 inches. And to reiterate: my body was can squeeze out an entire little human, so don’t get so egotistical about your size. Size doesn’t matter in this case, Sir.


This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    i have been tormented by a short women with a Napoleon complex for 30 years….

  • JS

    I have a similar problem too, not because I’m necessarily short at 5’7 but because I look super young even with makeup on. I’m 25 but could pass for 16-18. I look more my age with makeup on but I find in the day to day especially men tend to treat me like I am younger than I am. I guess my airy bright personality probably doesn’t help too much. However, I’ve always been about business, been very professional and put in extra initiative at work but I find myself still being babied by some men. A year ago (I was 24) when I was an intern at a work party, I even had a senior manager ask me if I was old enough to drink yet when he saw me with one in my hand. Another male co-worker strained himself to carry 50lbs worth of boxes, which was my job, and when I asked if I could help (ya know do my job) he handed me the only empty box.

    I think a lot of this has to do with the patriarchal notion that “a strong man, should protect a weak woman.” A lesson that has been ingrained into a lot of men as “just having manners.” I think those perceived weakness could come off as a woman who was “too short” in the author’s case or “looked too young” in my case but I believe they could take on any form. I’m not trying to knock men down for it, because I do think their are a lot of men who just do it out of consideration and common decency. Personally if my co-worker wanted to carry all the boxes I took no offense in letting him I just didn’t want it to look like I was trying to get out of doing my job. However some men, like in the author’s article who asked if “he could even fit”, are just being plain ignorant. There is a definite line of a man realizing a woman’s limitations and assisting vs. a man who has no clue at all about how to address a woman. Usually the latter would treat any woman like a child, so I think it has less to do with our perceived weakness and more to do with how they view women.

    (NOT trying to start a male vs. female war here but since all the author’s examples involved men I thought I would address that).

  • bk chick

    Yes !!! The title alone had me nodding in agreement. I’m 4’11″ and sometimes is sucks, but mostly because of society’s perception of me.

  • DownSouth Transplant

    LMAO, you did not have to go there JFP!!

  • The Moon in the Sky

    I’m 5’5, but I have the problem of people treating me like a child and referring to me as a ‘young lady’ or even ‘girl’ because I look younger than my 27 years.

    I’ve even had random men, and it is always men, ask me if I was hooking school or tell me to go to school.

  • Jia

    “Wearing a hoodie to a Mexican restaurant and getting a kid’s burrito” seriously you did that?..LMAO.

  • Ms45.

    …aint no thang but a chicken wang.
    I’m 4’11 myself. Been that way forever. As you get older you will become more comfortable in your skin. I used to be small AND thin and was always mistaken for a child when I went to a club with my friends back in the day. Now that I am older. Much, much, much older, I appreciate the small height because sometimes people think I am much younger than I am. And when they see me, my husband and our three young adult/teenagers all walking together, they do not know that I am the mother. LOL. It’s all good though.

  • au napptural

    ….If anything I think short women have advantages. I’ve seen too many tall men who should’ve been with tall women, somewhere with an inch-high chick. What is sexually attractive about that? If you are 6’5 why do you want to put it in a 4 ft chick? Nasty. That’s about it though. I love being tall. I can reach all the shelves. :)

  • Rob

    I’m 6’4″ and VERY…. THANKFUL !! :)


    Tall midgets have to fight to get respect and be treated like an adult.

  • Jaslene

    I wish my friend could meet you. She’s tall and gorgeous but suffers from self esteem issues. I think she feels that her height is a disadvantage in netting men.

  • Jaslene

    Your mama?

  • KemaVA

    I’m 5’1 but I walk around like I’m 6ft. lol! Ive never had a problem being treated as a child. Probably because of my aggressive nature. I have a girlfriend who has to be about 4’9 or 4’10. She doesnt seem to have that problem either. Probably has to do with atitude.

  • Nakia

    I am 5ft. but I can’t much relate to this, except the picking up part. I love being short mostly cause I know nothing else, have never suffered because of it and cannot discern any reason to want to be otherwise (I mean, I’m way to thick for america’s next top model and doesn’t everyone get their jeans altered in some way?:)). Plus, nobody has any issue distinguishing me as a woman. I do get hit on by A LOT of men over 6ft (hmmm). My last 2 relationships were with them…even my two best friends are taller women! but I also know that I am going to get hit on by every short dude in the spot. I always say I’m short but I ‘read’ tall cause disposition is everything and like KemaVA said, it has much to do with attitude. I will say though, knee boots and maxi dresses look better on taller women:(

  • chanela17

    “his was about me being cute, not sexy. And this is at the crux of my ongoing dating problem: men tend to see me as child, which makes me undatable or unbangable or both”

    This is exactly how i feel!! i’m 23 and 5’7 and i have i guess a “babyface” people always think im 15 or 16. it pisses me off because men NEVER ask me out or even look at me. ironically,men 40 and over are always the ones who ask me out and i am NOT looking for an older man. eww

  • s

    I’m 5’5”, in my late 20s and haven’t had a serious relationship. Nice people aren’t interested in me, only middle-aged men and children who enjoy laughing or saying unkind things to me. Then, when I express anger, they probably assume that I’m a little girl who’s having a tantrum.

    A girl, who thought I was around her age, told me that I looked like Kristen Stewart.

    People, young and old, don’t respect small women- look at all of the cruel, unkind things that people write about young celebrities, online; undoubtedly, they’re vicious to young women in real life, too.

  • Dana

    I want to give the woman who wrote this a huge hug and hope to be like her one day. I am 4’11 and 26 years old, and I thought she was writing word for word how I felt. I have trouble with being assertive, considering people love to pat me on the head, pick me up without warning and laugh in my face after I say something because I am “so cute”; and I find it very patronizing.

    I would love to know the name of the person who wrote this article to give them proper respect – I loved your writing and it definitely resonated.

  • Katie

    I need to know.. What is the story behind the bird foot?

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