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Roisin Gorman’s open letter... on heightism

I may be small but I could tower over Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga by an inch and sure Kylie is a tiny person too’

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Reese Witherspoon is not the first person Nicole Kidman has towered over

Reese Witherspoon is not the first person Nicole Kidman has towered over

Reese Witherspoon is not the first person Nicole Kidman has towered over

It’s a small query, but why is height still an issue? As a person who needs a stool to step up to the debate, and most other things, I have embraced my titchiness. But it came as a tiny bit of a shock — I’m 5ft 2in, I can make height jokes — that it’s still a form of discrimination and occasional abuse. The matter raised its head (I could do this all day) recently when a female bus driver in England discovered after 34 years of service, she could no longer drive a redesigned vehicle because of her height. All five feet of Tracey Scholes was facing a change in pay and work patterns until 250,000 people signed a petition to support her, and she’s now back behind an alternative wheel. Man United fans displayed a similar blind spot about stature recently when they abused a Wolves player for being on the short side, although they were presumably much less delicate. They’ve been asked to play nicely in future. After years of experience of being a short arse, I can recall only one moment of discrimination when a much taller and much puffed up PR person tried to end a clearly tiresome conversation by walking through me. I stood my ground, safe in the knowledge that if we went down, I didn’t have as far to fall. There may have been other occasions which went over my head (sorry for that one) but I clearly remember the moment I realised I’m small, while watching a film starring actor, comedian, composer, lothario and also 5ft 2in Dudley Moore. The penny suddenly dropped that I’d never trouble the top shelves in a supermarket and would spend eternity swinging my legs off a chair. Coming from a family of similarly statured people, it also suggested I wasn’t exactly quick on the uptake. It’s like a cat looking around at its cat family and realising it’s a cat. A quick dive into celebrity sizes revealed that Kim Kardashian is the same height, although sadly that’s the only measurement we share, Kylie and Eva Longoria are two inches shorter, and I could tower over Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga by an inch. It explains why Gaga does the ludicrous heels, although not why we’re so wedded to imperial height measurements, but at least that’s an option open to women, and previously Prince. I have ridiculous four-inch heels (worn once, that look like they belong in an adult movie) which revealed a whole new world. I nearly needed oxygen up there, but it was glorious. For men, it’s an entirely different scenario. Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman at 5ft 6in are the butt of jokes for their height but they’re still taller than Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, and he’s only an inch above Joe Pesci and Kevin Hart, whose schtick is their diminutive size. In the real world, the consequences are that tallness can have a direct impact on career success. Studies in the US, where only one state has outlawed discrimination on height, have linked men’s wages to their tallness at 16, and 90pc of company CEOs are above average loftiness. Maybe it’s the confidence of years of looking down on the little people. And imagine if all of the above statistics were about weight rather than height. It would spark a sizeism backlash bigger than a McDonald’s drive-thru, and with that thought I’m running as fast as my tiny legs will take me. Email roisin.gorman@sundayworld.com

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