My Experiences as a Female
by Louise Duncombe
May 2005

My height never really bothered me when I was a young child, which was probably because no one made an issue of it. I remember when I was 10½, I was referred to the hospital for my height. I had X-rays and a blood tests done for about a year and a half but they found nothing wrong. They just put it down to genes. They estimated I would reach about 5ft or 5ft 1 but I'm 19 and 4ft 11 so I'm beginning to think they got it wrong.

From the ages 14 to 16 I received so many nasty comments about my height, which has made me despise it ever since. There's too many to mention but here's a few. Most of them were from boys. I would get called "midget" or "dwarf" every single day. I absolutely love football and everyone knew it so some of the boys started saying to me "You're as big as a football." I'd normally get called "midget" shouted at me if people wanted my attention. In a maths lesson a boy came up to my desk and grabbed my baseball cap. Just as I was about to grab it he pulled it up so I couldn't reach it. Then hooked it on the corner of the door and said "I bet you're too small to reach that."

I only received a few comments from the girls. One girl called me a shrimp and laughed at my shoe size. Another girl was having a conversation with her mates and spoke louder as she walked past me saying, "Well at least I'm not short", as though it's the worst thing in the world to be.

Something that really upset me happened when I was 14. I joined a girl's football team and played one match for them. After the game I stood in the changing rooms in a men's extra large t-shirt that came about 6 inches past my knees which we'd been given to play the match. The female coach came in and said to me in front of everyone "I don't think you should play the next match, I think you're a bit small, coz you are quite small aren't you." That really put me off the dream of playing for England one day.

I saw a guy being interviewed on the news and he said he was picked by a scout for Arsenal and then when he got there they told him they didn't want him anymore because he was a bit too small. I knew exactly how he felt.

I never thought my own family would be height prejudiced. My mum doesn't see short guys as attractive and when she was chatting about me to my younger brother's friend's mum, she said I'm 4ft 9 on a good day. My sister, who is three years younger than me and about three inches taller, has called me a midget, and said I'd need a booster seat when learning to drive.

I thought when starting 6th form it would all stop. Most of the people who had picked on me before had gone. One guy came up to me and asked me why Paul had left pop band S Club 7. Then he said to me, "Can you actually reach for the stars", referring to their song Reach. I also never thought a teacher would say something nasty. I was with my Indian friend Biraj and we wanted to go into the library but it was closed. Biraj knocked, and the teacher came to the door and said "Only 6th formers are allowed in. Are you a 6th former, you're too small to be in 6th form."

One day I was in the common room, which was empty, looking at the year photograph. I had to stand on a chair because the sun was reflecting on the photo so I couldn't see it properly when looking up at it. Biraj, who is 5 ft 11, was looking at the photo too and she saw me go and stand on the chair and then said to me "You’d look better if you were taller." I thought, no I wouldn’t, I’d still look exactly the same, I’d just be taller. Being taller doesn’t make you look better or be a better person

Paul Burrell who was a contestant on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here said to Nicole, the Red Carpet reporter on Hell's Kitchen: Extra Portions, “I know your sister, Natalie (she was also on "I’m a Celebrity"). She has a big heart and a little body”. Natalie’s 5ft 5 and was the shortest and smallest out of all the contestants in the jungle. Biraj said I have a big heart so surely my height shouldn't matter just like Natalie’s doesn’t matter because she has a big heart.

Sitting in my 6th form BTEC sports diploma lesson, I heard all the boys in the class discussing height with the male teacher. He'd seen I was listening and he said to me "Short women are alright but not men." A lot of the times I think short guys are much nicer; a lot of tall guys I know are complete idiots. I'd rather go out with a short, blonde haired gentleman than a tall, dark haired idiot.

I've never had a boyfriend, and I reckon my height has got something to do with it after hearing what someone said. This guy asked his mate if he'd ever go out with me and he said "No, she's too small for my liking." I've fancied a blonde haired guy named Tim Goddard for ages; he's a mate of Biraj's and she suggested that I email him. So I did, and I asked if he had a special someone and he said no, because of being 5ft 4. Height doesn't matter to me, it's what is inside that counts. It's a shame not everyone thinks that way.

There is definitely a lack of equality when it comes to height. Whenever I read interviews with Rachel Stevens in magazines, I noticed they always bring up the fact that she's 5ft 3, but when I read interviews with Atomic Kitten singers Liz McClarnon, 5ft 9, and Jenny Frost, 5ft 10, their height has never been mentioned. It makes me wonder why they bring up Rachel's height; why do they need to bring it up. Is it because it is a bad thing being short? I don't know what Rachel feels about it being brought up all the time or whether it even bothers her, but it would bother me. If I ever meet Rachel, I will ask her about it. Maybe she could use her status to fight the prejudice against short people. It's a thought.

Well that was my view from a female's perspective. If you would like to contact me regarding my essay then please do so at titch2401@hotmail.com