Inches do matter!

When the French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave a televised speech, few tall executives stood around him.

This led to speculations of a set-up. One of the executives later said that he was picked to appear next to the President because of his height (or lack of it). If that’s not enough humiliation for Sarko, he has supermodel wife Carla Bruni to match up to!

The male brigade is having a tough time, in the era of stilettos. And with towering ladies in their lives, men are trying every trick in the book to look tall. Hollywood actor Tom Cruise’s height makes it to the headlines every time wife Katie Holmes wears stilettos. Author Salman Rushdie stood many inches shorter than his ex-wife Padmalakshmi. However, there are some women who wear flats to help their men look tall! Bollywood diva Katrina Kaif is one of them.

In some cases, men wear heels to compensate. Sarko went as far as standing on a small box to address a gathering. Is he suffering from Short Man syndrome (also known as the Napolean complex)? Explains psychologist Seema Hingorrani, “Men suffering from the Napolean complex overcompensate for the lack of height by being aggressive. It’s a defence mechanism to ensure they are not bullied.”

It’s also widely accepted that height is associated with power. Studies reveal that short men are less likely to be hired, promoted, or paid as well as their taller counterparts, and are less prized by women. What is it about short guys that make them disguise their height? Psychologist Varsha Patkar says, “Popularly, men are perceived to be taller, broader and stronger, and who can protect and provide. It’s also vanity.”

While the average height of an Indian male is 5’6”, we cannot ignore the fact that many powerful men in history were short. Did you know that Mahatma Gandhi was 5’3” and Stalin 5’4”? Actress Tisca Chopra, who has worked with Aamir Khan (short by industry standards at 5’5”) says, “When I look at Aamir, I see the height of his talent. Such factors matter only when there is a paucity of character.”

Comedian and actor Vir Das says, “I am not blessed with a good height but that has never come in the way. I have dated both short and tall women. Only intelligence matters.” Designer Rina Dhaka agrees, “My sons are in their growing stages and I pray that they grow tall, but even if they don’t, I would be content in knowing that some of the best men in the industry are short and successful.”

The fashion industry is cashing in on the dilemma. Elevator shoes are a rage. Glossies carry tips to “dress tall”. “It’s all about confidence,” says designer Samant Chauhan, for whom Inder Bajwa and Sahil Shroff, the best models in the industry, are successful without great height.

It’s not that women feel less threatened by the lack of a few inches, but they are less troubled than men. It’s time men grew up, literally!

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2 Comments

  1. I just sent this post to a bunch of my friends as I agree with most of what you’re saying here and the way you’ve presented it is awesome.

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