Tag Archives: Shortness

A Short Book Review of a Short Book written by a Short Author for Short People

12 Feb

A couple weeks ago, when I was reading the Feb. 4th issue of TIME magazine, I found an article that made my eyes practically pop out of their sockets. The article was about the botched assassination attempt of a Bulgarian political leader. The video of the botched attempt went viral. Below the article was a list of other assassination attempts in history that failed. I’ll have to quote the one that caught my attention.

“Franklin D. Roosevelt: A diminutive, mentally disturbed man shot at the then U.S. President-elect at a 1933 rally in Florida by standing atop a folding chair amid the crowd. He missed, killing Chicago’s mayor instead.”

“Diminutive?” I thought. “Is this the new ‘short?’” Now, don’t get me wrong, I am definitely not taking up for a murderer, and I definitely don’t want him on my team (the short team, that is.) But it seemed to me that the reason they included this story was because he was short, even having to stand on a chair in order to accomplish his evil deed.

Okay, I admit it. I’m a little defensive. But I hope that the word “diminutive” is never used to describe me. It brings to mind other negative words, like dim, diminish and dim-witted. I prefer short, thank you very much. Of course I realize that there are negative associations with the word “short” too. No one wants to be short-handed, short-changed or short-tempered. But there are some very good associations with the word “short.” A job applicant is very pleased to find out he or she is on the “short list” of potential candidates; putting shortening in my homemade biscuits makes them deliciously flaky, and I personally love to eat strawberry shortcake. And, on a Sunday morning when I’ve had too much coffee to drink and my stomach is growling in church, I really appreciate a short sermon. I cannot think of any positive associations with the word “diminutive” so call me short, please. Or little.

So the article inspired me to do a google search of “famous short people.” Thankfully, the diminutive murderer (or, to use people-first language, the murderer who was diminutive), was not on any of those lists.

Here are a few people from these lists. I didn’t include anyone whose fame was reached before the 1960’s because, let’s face it–the definition of the word “short” changes, since average height in humans is increasing.

Dolly Parton, 5’
Shakira, 4’11”
Reese Witherspoon, 5’1”
Carrie Fisher, 5’1”
Stevie Nicks, 5’1”
Lady Gaga, 5’1”
Christina Aguilera, 5’2”
Madonna, 5’3”
Holly Hunter, 5’2”
Sally Field, 5’2”
Prince, 5’2”
Woody Allen, 5’6”
Mel Brooks, 5’4”
Sammy Davis, Jr., 5’3”
Michael J. Fox, 5’4”
Elton John, 5’4”
Dudley Moore, 5’2”
Paul Simon, 5’2”
Danny DeVito, 4’11” according to one website. A wee bit taller according to others. (Pun intended.)

No matter what you think of these people, you can probably agree with me that they have talent. Prince, for example, is an amazing guitarist, but I don’t really care for his music. And Woody Allen completely grates on my nerves, but I sure have enjoyed a lot of his movies, despite him.

I was surprised to learn how many famous short people there are. I would not have known that many of them were short, because their fame and big personalities somehow led to them seeming bigger than life. Or maybe it was the camera angle, I don’t know. They certainly did not let their height stop them from reaching their lofty career goals.

My google search also turned up a book that so intrigued me that I purchased it. It’s called Short: Walking Tall When You’re Not Tall at All by John Schwartz. It’s a book written by a short guy for young people who might be struggling with being short. The author is 5’3” so, of course, he has a lot of insight. In his introduction he writes, “But many of us, at some time or another, have felt different–and have hoped that what makes us different might actually make us special.” It’s a quick read, and I would recommend it to anyone who might have a child, especially a boy, who might be having a hard time because he or she is not as tall as his or her friends. Schwartz also explores the controversies around using HGH (human growth hormone) and the myths about its success as well as the studies that supposedly showed how tall people are more successful in life. I know that some in my community of XLHer’s have considered HGH for their children and I would certainly recommend reading this book with your child before you make your final decision. I personally know of someone who was considering using it for her child (his shortness was not caused by a medical condition) and to be honest, I’m glad she and her husband and their son decided against it, now that I’ve read about it in this book.

Being short does have some disadvantages. My pants are always too long, even though they claim to be “petite.” I have to have stepping stools available at all times in the house and every time I go grocery shopping, I have to find someone to get something for me off the top shelf. (But they get to go away feeling like they’ve helped someone that day, thanks to me. Glad I could facilitate that.) And, believe it or not, I STILL get pats on the head (which I absolutely hate) from other people, and I’m afraid that one day I will haul off and slap the next person who does that to me, but that’s my problem, I guess.

There are advantages to being short, though. I look younger than tall people. I retained my cuteness a lot longer than bigger people did. My mother said I was the only child who could ever walk under the kitchen table. When my friends shrink their brand-new clothes in the dryer, they think, “Oh, I bet banjogrrl could wear this now.” Children love me. When I used to go to a particular Central American country for medical mission trips, the residents loved me, because most of them are short, too. I find pennies on the ground a lot, because it’s easier to spot them from this height. At concerts, no one yells at me, “Down in front!” even when I’m standing. When I go down in my basement, I never hit my head on the overhang, but everyone else who has ever gone down there, with the exception of Tucker the Beagle, has bumped their head without fail. When I fall, which is more often than I care to admit, I don’t have as far to drop before I hit the ground, thereby minimizing injuries. The list goes on.

Maybe John Schwartz is right. The thing that has made me different has actually made me special.

I have never bumped my head on the overhang when I've gone into the basement. Everyone else has.

I have never bumped my head on the overhang when I’ve gone into the basement. Everyone else has.

Copyright S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2013-2018