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Such Great Heights

March 1, 2010

M and Bond

I’ve been called square, dumpy, round, puckish-looking. If you said that to an ordinary person, somebody would smack you in the mouth. In my mind’s eye I’m 6 feet tall…

- Dame Judi Dench

Daniel Craig is an intriguing and complex Bond for a number of reasons, but two that are most charming to me relate to his physicality: his height (5’10) and his hair color (dirty blondish? I don’t know blond shades well). Both characteristics deviate from previous Bonds.

Look, the prototypical Bond is a six footer, dark haired and ruggedly handsome, possessing a cheeky smile.

Connery 6’2
Moore 6’1
Lazenby 6’2
Dalton 6’1
Brosnan 6’1

In perusing female profiles on dating sites, one finds something curious. Now, I’m not a statistician, but I did note with some shocking frequency how many women listed specific height requirements – regardless of their own listed height – and it usually went something like, “I only want messages from men 6’0 and over please.” Leaving aside the absurdity of such a requirement as A) the average height of American men is roughly 5’9ish and B) according to Malcolm Gladwell only 14.5% of the American male population meets such strict requirements!

Numbers do not interest me. They don’t make me feel better, but I realize their importance. Stats are only sexy to me if they help me answer my questions or tell me a fascinating story.

The tallest Academy Award nominated actor is James “That’ll do, pig.” Cromwell at 6’7
The shortest Academy Award nominated actor is Bob “I’m sexy as all get out cause Snarky said so” Hoskins at 5’6.

The tallest Oscar winning actor: Tim Robbins at 6’5
The shortest Oscar winning actor: Joe Pesci at 5’4

Tallest US President: Abe Lincoln at 6’4
Shortest US President: James Madison at 5’4

There’s a lot of cluster fuckage at 6’2 with Obama, Clinton, Bush (41), Washington, Arthur and FDR. And then the 6’0 club: Harding, Kennedy, Reagan, Bush (43), Garfield, Monroe, Buchanan, Ford.

Three of our last FOUR presidents have been 6’2.

Height of Fakey Female President Allen: 6’0 (G. Davis)
Height of Fakey Female VP Hanson: 5’10 (J. Allen)
Height of Fakey Female VP Bennett: 5’6 (G. Close)

Height of Hillary Clinton: 5’7.5 (unverified, but my impression based on judging pics of her and Bill, accounting for the footwear of both)

Heights of my last four boyfriends: 6’6, 6’5, 6’5 and 6’3
Height of my current partner: 6’0

My height: 5’1ish

Height of my doctor: 6’5.5
Height of my best friend (local) 6’5
Height of my (step)Dad: 6’5
Height of my Mom: 5’3
Height of my brother: 6’3
Height of my sister: 4’11

Heights of my celebrity boyfriends:

Morgan Freeman: 6’2
Jeff Goldblum: 6’4
Don Cheadle: 5’9
Kyle Secor: 6’5

Height of my favorite Bond: 6’1 (Moore)
Height of my favorite Bond Villain: 6’1 (Drax)

Height of the last author I read: 6’10 (Crichton)
Height of my favorite director: 6’0 (Pollack)
Actor whose height surprised me: 6’2 (Beatty)
Height of the last TV actor to grace my screen: 6’1 (Gandolfini)
Height of the current villain on my screen: 6’3.5 (D’Onofrio as Edgar)
Height of the heroes in that movie: 6’2 (Smith), 6’1.5 (Jones)
Heights of the last celebrities I snarked on: 5’10 (Clooney), 5’11 (Pitt) and 5’8 (Damon) – It was an Ocean’s 11 thang and oddly enough the heights of the actors I opted to “save” were: 5’9 (Cheadle), 6’2 (Gould) and 6’2 (Reiner)

Heights of favorite characters on my favorite TV show Homicide: Life on the Street:
Braugher: 6’0
Secor: 6’5
Kotto: 6’6
Belzer: 6’1
Johnson: 5’10
Leo: (couldn’t find a listing)

Height of my favorite Baldwin: 6’2

Heights of my current favorite actors: 6’2 (Hackman), 6’2 (Jackman), 6’3 (D. Glover), 5’9 (Cheadle), 6’2 (W. Smith), 6’2 (Goodman), 6’1 (Bridges), 5’10 (J. Cho), 6’3 (Smits), 6’2 (Julia)

Heights of my current favorite actresses: 5’1 (Dench), 5’7 (J. Scott), 5’6.5 (Pounder), 5’10 (Arthur), 5’5 (Oh), 5’0 (C. Wilson)

The story I tell myself about my past partners and their heights:

It has been my experience that the closer a male is to the ideal (in US society), oddly enough the more generous they tend to be (I believe) in accepting the “flaws” of others. The less a male feels he meets the “ideal” the more strictly he is apt to enforce the ideal on his potential partners.

Which, if we follow my “logical” explains why I am surrounded by the 14.5% club.

In my defense, I have to say I eat what’s on the menu and don’t insult the cook. Meaning, I date the people I find attractive who find ME attractive enough to pursue. I am a short, black chunkerbutt in a society who doesn’t appear to have a lot of use for any of those qualities.

Still I’m uncomfortable with my examination. I’m uncomfortable because I subscribe to the belief that we aren’t as much in control of the thing we call desires as we think we are. More over, pop culture, media and what not actively shapes and reshapes what we find attractive. This is not new shit coming to light. We seem to live in a culture where women on dating sites call men of average height “short”, despite not being able to distinguish 5’9 and 5’11 in person (cause they don’t look THAT much different).

I know height. I can eyeball it within a quarter of an inch, even accounting for environmental factors and footwear (dodgy or otherwise). Yet, I was also stunned and humbled at what my height actually looks like in REAL life. And this is where we get back to Dench and Craig. The accompanying photo – despite not being able to see the floor or their footwear – approximates the height variance between my partner and myself. And like Dench, I don’t see myself that way at all. But there it is. It stares at me every time I catch a glimpse of myself and my partner in a reflective surface.

So why care?

I care and am interested because I want to know what my culture instructing me to believe, desire and think. I mean I know all about heightism, particularly as it relates to men in Western society and how it shapes masculinity and notions of desirability. But it’s one thing to read all the papers, analysis and studies, but it’s an entirely DIFFERENT thing to see the results of those papers and studies playing out in your OWN life, particularly when you tout yourself as critically conscious. Actively resisting culturally dictated desires – and I’m not just referring to physical desires – is something I rabidly pursue. I want to like what I like because I like it and not because I’ve been trained to. I want to love Barney Miller because it’s a great fucking show and not because Hal Linden is 6’0 and I live in a society, which actively instructs its citizens to obsessively pursue and desire what is rare and enables those who acquire it to benefit from a status bump simply for their deft acquisition skills.

And fuck yeah on Craig as Bond. Why? Because if we can get a 5’10 blond fucking Bond, we could have a Bond of color, a female Bond and possibly Bonds representing every -ism and that would be made of awesome.

Editor’s Note: Most of the listed heights I know from memory, but if you wish to do your own research a good place to start is Celebrity Heights, which basically is a bunch of people far more committed than me debating height in a generally informative and productive way. As with all off site links, it is not a “safe space” though I haven’t encountered too much -ism tomfoolery, which isn’t to suggest it does not exist there.

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2010 9:27 am

    the thing that bugged me the most about the latest Surprise! That Douchebag You’ve Always Hated is Indeed a Douchebag! “scandal”, is not that he ‘said the n-word’, it’s that he talked about his racist sexual desires as if they were biologically innate to his penis and I hate that isht across the board, when people use desire as a means to cut out ‘undesirables’ in some so-called objective way. I always want to assign people homework, so go watch themed porn that prominently features an act or a type of person you claim to not like, watch it everyday for even just a month, and see if some doors get opened.

    I always say I don’t have a type, but yet I’m currently going on dates with an Aries woman with curly hair. This is not my first. Or second. I actually thought it was my fourth, but it turned out one woman is technically a Taurus, just on the cusp. Now obviously I know enough about astrology to remark on these things, but I’m not some expert who triangulates that isht to find a partner. However, the common denominator is me and my programming, so it makes me curious what exactly it’s about, when I see all my ex’s lined up in an imaginary room.

  2. March 1, 2010 9:46 am

    The first pic in this entry shows the difference in my mama (5’4″) and my stepdad (6’10”) as far as height goes.

    http://tallyhassle.blogspot.com/2009/06/up-and-down-river.html

    My dad, on the other hand, is about 5’9″ or 10″, which puts me somewhere between Danny DeVito and Joe Pesci. I’m usually okay with dating women taller than myself – I’d kind of have to be, and I’m around so many tall people that I don’t get flustered over it. But still, when I have dated women that are 5′ or less, it does make me feel… more something.

  3. March 1, 2010 10:48 am

    @raymond

    I always want to assign people homework, so go watch themed porn that prominently features an act or a type of person you claim to not like, watch it everyday for even just a month, and see if some doors get opened.

    This would be a fascinating research study. Mostly – if you’re drawing the same conclusion I am – because it would reinforce the notion much of perceived “innateness” is learned behavior perfected from years and years and years of rigorous practice.

    Also, an aside. John Mayer is 6’3.

    I roll like this:

    personality trait, interests, hobbies = preference
    physical trait = prejudice

    This was definitely strengthen by spending time observing dating site messageboards and not wanting to end up like 99.99% of the inhabitants, who conflated to two to their own peril.

    @Hank – I totally had you in mind while writing this, thinking about your family – particularly your step dad. Also, because of the people on the webz that I have known the longest, you’ve consistently been one of the most self-aware and reflective without being heavy handed, pretentious or annoying. So as I wrote my conclusions I wondered how you would analyze the “data” if it were yours. :)

  4. March 1, 2010 10:51 am

    This is a fascinating piece. I like where you took it, from its humble origins looking at heights of actors to examining an ism that I didn’t really recognize — let alone know I had — just a few years ago.

  5. March 1, 2010 11:03 am

    @redlami – Thanks ;) You inspired me with your deft ability to pistol whip that data! This is just the beginning. I really like what we’re working on and hopefully, this entry helps me start shaping the questions I want to ask and hopefully answer.

  6. badhedgehog permalink
    March 1, 2010 1:49 pm

    I’ve never dated a guy shorter than me, or indeed shorter than about 5’9″ (my best friend in college was a bloke who was a bit shorter than me, though. We had no interest in dating one another). I initially find it odd to imagine going out with a guy shorter than me. But I kind of know, on only the slightest introspection, that it isn’t really a preference — it’s something I’ve picked up from general heightism in my culture. Would I actually feel odd about walking beside a nice, cute, funny, jolly-and-all-the-rest-of-it short bloke as if he were my feller and I were his girl — no, not at all.

  7. hsofia permalink
    March 1, 2010 6:16 pm

    It took me a little over a decade to get over seeing myself as a giant beast monster … I was taller and of thicker build than my mother, grandmother, and best friends from the time I hit puberty, and I developed a very warped perception of myself as a result.

    But once I got over that, I very gradually began recognizing my height privilege. At exactly 5’6″ I have never been teased about my height. In school I was taller than most girls, but was never the tallest girl. I’ve never been condescended to because of my height or picked on, or tormented; and I’ve rarely had to ask for help reaching things because of my height. The average man is about 5’9″ and when I wear heels (which was almost daily when I was in the working world), I am looking him dead in the face – or even looking down at his bald spot, realizing that he is NOT the 5’10” he insists he is.

    There were days when I’d wear flats to work and find myself in a conversation with a male coworker feel like something was … off. Suddenly, I’d realize I was looking UP at him. I’d get this sense of indignation, like, “He’s not superior to me, why should he be looking down at me?” And the next day I’d be sure to wear heels. But many of my female friends cannot wear 3″ heels and be 5’9″. The power I felt being the same height or taller than men was really something … I never felt anything similar in relation to women. With women who are shorter than me, I still sometimes have twinges of being the gigantic beast monster (that is to say, unfeminine, bull-like, clumsy). But it’s not the same at all. And with women who are taller than me, there is even less of an emotional response on my part.

  8. March 2, 2010 2:27 am

    I can’t believe dame Judi is only 5′-1″. Her personality seems so much taller.

  9. March 2, 2010 2:28 am

    Whoa, did I just ascribe personal characteristics to a physical attribute? Shit.

  10. March 2, 2010 2:44 am

    1. Bob Hoskins is sexy – seconded

    2. “fuck yeah on Craig as Bond” – seconded

    3. My children are tall and slim (75th percentile for height, 50th for weight) – and white. We have a lot of foodie friends and also: all the hysteria over junk food and the obese. People are constantly assuming I’m feeding my children “correctly” because, you know, they aren’t fat or very thin or short or tiny or whatever. The yucky thing is occasionally I find myself hoping they stay this way. I know this is an ass-out as a FA, and I try to check this baggage. I’m OK being slightly chunkerbutt myself, so I have to believe this makes a difference.

    It bugs me, obviously, that people feel free to weigh in on things they don’t know much about, and give me a “pass” because my family meets some requirement.

    4. I’m uncomfortable because I subscribe to the belief that we aren’t as much in control of the thing we call desires as we think we are. More over, pop culture, media and what not actively shapes and reshapes what we find attractive.

    Well-put. & yet it seems for so many they will constantly defend they are “naturally” attracted to this, or “naturally” desire that … I agree what you’re saying isn’t new news, and yet it tends to lend to uncomfortable observations. Amanda Hess at The Sexist recently wrote about the social construction of “what we want” re: weddings and facials (as in, porn) and this was kind of eye-opening and, as a married het woman who did the wedding thing, unsettling.

  11. March 2, 2010 4:25 pm

    @hsofia, I loved your comment.

    Ack, my doctor just walked into the exam room. I’ll get to the other responses when I’m done.

  12. Miguel permalink
    March 2, 2010 8:14 pm

    I’m a shortie. Like, 5’4″ last time i checked. For a long time my dad tried to push me to do some sort of growth hormone thing to help me get taller, and he cited a lot of information on the advantages height has including jobs and “finding mates” (his own words!) The whole thing made me really uncomfortable and i decided against it.

    The reasoning I had seems kinda problematic looking back; I’ve grown up with a lot of priviledges and I felt at the time that going through the thing would somehow be denying myself an oppurtunity to struggle and grow as person. I don’t regret not doing it, though.

    My height is definitely something i’m insecure about from time to time, but its not something that bothers me that much. Usually its not an issue, but the senior in charge of the “African American/Latino festival” (a school cultural heritage performance thing that was set up as a response to the ‘Asian Fest.’ The lumping together is kind of odd; but I’m pretty sure its because those are the two smallest minorities in my school) loves patronizing me and saying stuff like “oh miguel, you’re so littttttle. you’re like a little kid! when are you going to grow up Miguelito?”

    I think i would be uncomfortable if i went out with someone taller than me, but I think that insecurity is as much a machismo thing that needs to be unpacked as it is a fear of what she herself would think. Luckily for my ego, I have a girlfriend who claims to only like guys under 5’7″ and is just barely shorter than me, so i’m in the clear unless one of us sponteaneously changes height.

  13. March 3, 2010 4:22 pm

    Discussions of comparitive height never fail to surprise and intrigue whenever me, as I have long been aware that I have Height Privelege. At 5’8″ (or more in heels), I am realatively tall for a woman, and was always tall as a kid. I enjoy being tall, and the added height that comes with wearing heels, and have never wished to be shorter.

    I believe it is a result of this that I have NO IDEA how tall other people are, and don’t particularly care. I have dated men who are shorter, taller, and the same height as me. Weirdly enough, I also perceive the majority of people I see to be about my height, give or take an inch. Obviously this cannot be true, but I think because I am happy with my height, it is a non-issue for me and therefore I rarely think about it or compare myself to people of other heights. Perhaps a similar mechanism is at work in your experiences with tall men. As tall people, themselves, they don’t care about height because they don’t have to.

    By contrast, my female friends who are shorter than me all know precisely, or can guess accurately, the height of any given person. Whereas my guesses all fall into the vague categories: about as tall as me, shorter than me, really shorter than me, taller than me, really taller than me.

  14. March 13, 2010 10:46 pm

    I took growth hormone. I have turner syndrome, it’s pretty common for us to take it, I took it from like 7 – 14 years of age. I am 5 foot even now.

    For me there are those rare moments when I love being short. But all in all the way people look at you, I wish I could trade all those moments for being taken a little more seriously. That’s why I like singing, I feel 6 feel tall when I’m singing.

  15. badhedgehog permalink
    March 18, 2010 6:59 am

    Looking at my earlier comment with embarrassment and a little mirth. I was patting myself so hard on the back it’s a wonder I didn’t sprain something.

    What I would have been trying to say if I weren’t such a tit, is that sometimes these prejudices do reveal themselves as such on “only the slightest introspection” BUT we often don’t give them even the slightest introspection. For a long time I never bothered to scrutinise my thoughts about height much at all. I assumed it was just a preference. I think I probably liked to think that cultural messages hadn’t really affected me, although of course they had affected those other people. Ha ha ha, ha ha ha, ha ha.

    My favourite rally driver is tall. My favourite racing driver is short.

  16. March 18, 2010 7:17 am

    I think i would be uncomfortable if i went out with someone taller than me, but I think that insecurity is as much a machismo thing that needs to be unpacked as it is a fear of what she herself would think. Luckily for my ego, I have a girlfriend who claims to only like guys under 5′7″ and is just barely shorter than me, so i’m in the clear unless one of us sponteaneously changes height.

    Ha! You’d tower over me if that helps. ;) I loved your comment, btw. I have been slow to respond to all the really great content folks have been providing. Too busy modding and fooling around with my site design. MS Paint!!! ::shakes fist::

    @badhedgehog – It’s so hard to sift through what’s preference and what could be perceived as prejudice. On one hand, it’s really important to do the work, but on the other at some point one probably would do better to accept what they like – particularly if they have done lots and lots of unpacking – and acknowledge the cost/detriment of those desires.

  17. badhedgehog permalink
    March 18, 2010 9:21 am

    Oh, totally. Trying to purify oneself of social constructs would be futile.

  18. mcm permalink
    April 20, 2010 9:36 am

    {Reading some Snarchives while I should be working…}

    It was not till I started learning about FA that I put it together that almost all of the serious physical attractions I have had were with skinny men. In particularly, skinny assed men.

    This disturbs and confuses me still.

    I wonder if there isn’t some aspect of internalized fatphobia there.

    I also wonder if skinny men are just more comfortable with chubby women since they both are way outside the cultural ideal.

    Anyway, another great post!

  19. April 20, 2010 10:31 am

    mcm – you had me at…Snarchives. Oh man, that is delicious. I think will change the name of my archives and you will be fully credited with this lovely creation.

    I think there is so much to unpack around internalized stuffs that it is exhausting. At some point if you’re acknowledging the work that can sometime serve as a place holder until you get some time to actually reflect on things. While it’s probably not the most ideal, it speaks to a reality of the concern and the expansiveness of the issue.

  20. September 20, 2010 7:16 pm

    I’d not even thought about height preference before the first time you pointed me to this post (some time ago). I still haven’t thought about it nearly as much as I should. To be honest, I’m not even sure what my tastes are, never mind analysing those tastes for prejudice.

    (Back on the issue of race, here’s Stephen Lynch: Vanilla Ice Cream. I don’t like any of the YouTube versions, so this is audio only. Generally I like the videos of Stephen Lynch because he has wonderful facial expressions, but this song is an exception.)

    TRiG.

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