Ed­i­tor’s let­ter

The Week (US) - - 3 - Carolyn O’Hara

In life’s lot­tery, I drew the short straw—5 feet 2 inches short, to be ex­act. It’s just 2 inches shorter than the aver­age Amer­i­can woman, but it some­times feels as though it might as well be a mile. Su­per­mar­ket shelves are al­ways a lit­tle too high, and more than a few bath­room mir­rors cap­ture me start­ing at the scalp. I fac­tor in the cost of short­en­ing pants when I shop for clothes. As a kid, I learned to tol­er­ate peo­ple con­stantly point­ing out my pint­size stature, and that pools would feel deep well be­fore the deep end. As an adult, I got used to driv­ing with the steer­ing wheel in my lap and to ar­riv­ing early at stand­ing-only con­certs. It’s just what smaller peo­ple do to adapt to an aver­age per­son–size world. Be­fore the 5-foot-7 Mark Zucker­berg—2 inches shorter than the typ­i­cal U.S. man—got grilled by law­mak­ers this week, his team qui­etly placed a 4-inch cush­ion on his chair. He’s hon­estly never seemed so relatable. The guy has $63 bil­lion in the bank, but all he wants is to look a lit­tle big­ger. And why wouldn’t he? We re­vere tall­ness. Tall peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly men, are paid higher salar­ies; are con­sid­ered more at­trac­tive, more in­tel­li­gent, and health­ier; and are more likely to get elected or pro­moted. Stud­ies have sug­gested they might even live longer. But as Ni­cholas Kul­ish writes in The Last Word (p. 40), be­ing taller than the aver­age hu­man isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Clock­ing in at 6-foot-8, Kul­ish says he’s spent much of his life want­ing to shrink. Af­ter about 6-foot-3, he writes, “ev­ery inch takes you fur­ther from at­trac­tive and deeper into a realm of the freak­ish, to­ward hu­man spec­ta­cle.” He goes through life mak­ing a se­ries of silent ad­just­ments ev­ery day—from putting up with strangers’ con­stant jokes to avoid­ing roller coast­ers and pants shop­ping (relatable!). I’ve al­ways won­dered what it would be like to be tall. Turns out the air up there is a lot like the air down here.

Man­ag­ing ed­i­tor

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