Years ago, after I got a letter from my mom. Also in the envelope
was a newspaper clipping. I unfolded it to find it was an article about
a company that made lifts for short men to wear in their shoes, in
order to achieve a few inches of height. When I spoke with her on the
phone, she asked me if I got the clipping, and I confirmed that I did.
I didn't have the heart to tell her that, as a gay man, I'd never hear
the end of it if I got caught wearing lifts. I'd be better off just
wearing heels or platform shoes.
That wasn't the first such exchange between my mom and I. When I was
in college and home for a weekend visit, she handed me a newspaper
clipping about fashion tips for short men. (One that I remembered was
to avoid wearing cuffed pants. Reason: the cuff breaks the line of the
leg, shortening it even further.) Again, she meant well. My guess is
that she knew men of less-than-average height are generally at a
disadvantage, and wanted to help me out if she could. (Studies have
documented heightism in employment and politics. Plus, short kids are more likely to be bullied.)
The program defined short as something like 5? 7? and under. At that
point 5-foot-tall mom turned to me and asked "So, what does that make
"The tall end of short," I replied, from a height of or around 5? 7?.
It's funny, height isn't something I've ever been particularly
sensitive about, though I've alway said that if I could change change
something about myself physically, I wouldn't mind a few more inches of height. Not to be a giant or anything. Just enought to make me somewhere around 5? 10?. (Average height for American men is around 5? 9?.) But I've never felt disadvantaged by my height, or at least been aware of it.
(I don't think height is a big deal for gay men. It's likely that
guys tend to go for guys who are the same or near the same height. But
I've dates guys who were taller than me and shorter than me. The hubby
and I are actually the same height. Parker is looking like he's going
to be six feet tall by the time he stops growing. He's in kindergarten,
and already taller than some of the 2nd graders in his soccer league.)
We are not aware that Robert Downey Jr's film Iron Man 2 is
subtitled "the glam rock years", so we have to assume that the high
heels he is wearing on set are to enhance his diminutive stature.
Stacked heels and shoe lifts are nothing new in Hollywood - Pasquale di
Fabrizio, the self-styled "shoemaker to the stars", made shoes for
everyone from Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson until he retired from
his shop in LA, and revealed that he discreetly added height to many
celebrities (he named Michael Douglas and Sylvester Stallone among
On the brilliantly odd and self-explanatory website
celebheights.com, which has a contributor called Glenn, 5ft 8in, who
gets himself photographed with celebrities such as Mel Gibson and
Leonardo Di Caprio for comparison, like a human tape measure, the
consensus among its fans is that most male celebrities have a little
I looked at the slideshow of the men in the article: Bono, Nicholas
Sarkozy, Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Mick Jagger. It got me thinking. These
are all men of short stature who have achieved big things. In term of
accomplishment (yes, even Gibson whose politics I hate and Cruise who
just freaks me out), they're huge. (Pun intended.)
I decided to do some research and see if I could find other men who
fit the same bill. I think I came up with quite an impressive list.
I'm sure it could be a much longer list, with even more names added. But as it stands, this is pretty good company to be in.