A Short Stay
An Essay on My Life as a Short Male
and the Effects of Shorter Stature and Repeated Moves as a Child

by Shane Francis (shanefrancis20@msn.com)
August 2005

I am a short, Caucasian male - a little over 5'6" in stocking feet.

I guess you could say that I'm the "runt" of the litter, as I am the only member of a family of 4 children, who is short. In fact, my sisters lean closer to the taller side at 5'7" and 5'8" - both heights considered above average for a female. My brother is 5'11".

I was born a month prematurely and experienced health complications for the first few years of my life. In fact, I was not even expected to survive to the age of two - these are some of the things that led to my less than average height.

Today, I am 39 years old and still dealing with the effects of my shorter stature, and of my family upbringing.

You see, besides being less than average height, I come from a family that moved quite frequently when I was growing up. Before I started Kindergarten, I had lived in at least four different towns. From Ohio, to Oregon, to Iowa. From the time I entered Kindergarten, through high school graduation, I averaged living in a new town, every 1.5 years. This, too, may be another cause for my shorter stature, as some research indicates that stress can be a factor in inhibiting a person's growth.

The Early Years

When I was younger, through the first 9 or so years - life seemed pretty normal…and good. I was short - always the shortest kid in my class by far - but it didn't really bother me so much, and the other kids really didn't take much note of it either. I was smart, athletic (always one of the best athletes in my class), confident, and funny. I felt like I had everything going for me. I felt like just any other kid. This is not to say that I occasionally didn't get picked on, or my height made fun of, or that I didn't realize how short I was and wished I was taller; but overall, I felt pretty "normal".

That is, until continued moves and continued harassment about my shorter stature started to have their affect on me.

Those who have experienced a few moves while growing up can relate to the traumas and difficulties of being the new kid in school. It's not easy - as a new kid. You are instantly the one who is out of place, who doesn't belong, who must try to make friends. You've been removed from your comfortable and secure surroundings, as well as from your friends and social structure. You're also an easy target - anytime somebody is different, (whether it is being new, or being heavier than other kids, or shorter, or of another nationality, etc.) they usually get teased. It just seems to be a natural thing for people to do to other people, especially kids, especially to new kids.

As you continually move, your sense of identity, your place in this world, starts to get blurred. That confidence you have, or that sense of belonging, starts to fade. At least it did for me. That's because, basically, I didn't belong. Every few years, I really didn't. Kids picked on me, made fun of my height, my Northern accent, and how young I looked. They excluded me and ostracized me. As a result, instead of just going to school, hanging out with friends, doing the normal things kids do, I spent more and more time by myself. I Felt like I didn't belong, that I was too short, that something was wrong with me. When other kids constantly tell you you're short, and that this somehow makes you inferior, well, you begin to feel inferior.

First Significant Move

When I was nine (after 3rd grade), my family moved to Texas. Once again, I was the new kid. But, for the first time, not just the new kid, but the new, really short kid, with the funny accent. After all, I was from The North.

So, life got a little tougher.

Still, things weren't all bad. I managed to overcome this fairly quickly in Texas and made good friends. Life returned to normal, I'd say, and height, again, didn't seem too much of an issue. I was a good soccer player, one of the best players on my team. Out of all the kids in my grade, I won the award for physical fitness in P.E. class. I received several academic honors for my achievements. Also, there was a little blonde-haired girl I liked, and she seemed to like me too.

At this point of my life, despite my height, despite the repeated moves - I look back and feel, overall, that I was on a fairly normal path of maturation regarding who I was, making friends, and sexual maturation. Unfortunately, at the end of fifth grade, we moved again - this time to a town in southern Arkansas…and I started to feel different.

I remember the first day of sixth grade quite well. I was terrified. Now, I am not prejudiced, but sixth grade brought something new to my life that I had never before experienced - African-Americans. You see, El Dorado Arkansas, I would estimate, was composed of about 65 percent black people and 35 percent white people. I was born and raised in the North and can remember only one black kid in any of the schools I ever went to, even in Texas. A school so prominent with African Americans was a completely new and traumatic experience for me. Remember, I was still very young, only eleven. And, once again, I was new in school, short, scared, afraid of getting picked on. To be honest, this new school scared the heck out of me, and every day for the first few months of school I was frightened to get on the bus. I remember cowering under a tree on the playground, afraid everyone was going to beat me up.

Well, in some ways, living in this town was a good experience. Why? Because it taught me that black people were no different than white people. I had exposure that I never may have had. But still, the overall experience, being new, being short, was especially traumatic at this school and just led to more of my insecurities. That's because both the white kids and the black kids picked on me. Sixth grade is where kids started picking on me even more, picking fights. At a bus-stop changeover between two schools, two kids, whom I had never had any problems with, started picking on me relentlessly. I don't know why. I guess because they could. Every day, they would hit me or poke me. They would knock my books to the ground, do everything they could to belittle and embarrass me. Sometimes the abuse got so bad, that I would retreat inside the school for safety.

Fortunately, after one year, my family moved to a town in Northeast Arkansas called Searcy. I can't say that I really minded moving this time - I hated El Dorado.

Things Got Tougher

Seventh grade was tough. Very tough. By this time, I was about 4 and ˝ feet tall, if that. I have a few pictures of me at school and even the shortest kids towered over me.

Somewhere during these years, 12 to 14, kids change. Instead of kids - let's play, let's ride our bike, can you sleep over - the trappings, attitudes, prejudices, and socializations of adulthood start to set in. Kids become more judgmental, start to form opinions on more weighty issues, start to form cliques. Research even suggests, that, in general, the older the child, the more difficult the move because of the increasing importance of peer groups and socialization. Where little kids usually paid little attention to my height or any other differences, seventh-graders seemed to pick out and emphasize everything they could find to make fun of, and to ostracize me.

On my first day of 7th grade, I was made fun of by a kid standing in line in front of me. He couldn't believe how short I was, laughed at me, and couldn't actually believe I was in the seventh grade.

Things just got worse from there. I spent the majority of 7th grade trying to fit in, to find my place. I was called "shrimp", "midget" and just about every known, demeaning term for short, possible. I can't tell you how many times people made jokes about my height - I really don't remember most of what they said, there was just too much. Overall, for whatever reason, lots of kids seemed to choose not to like me simply because I was short.

I hung mostly with a group of boys with whom I was seated, at a table in my first period class. Overall, they were pretty good kids, but they made sure that fitting in with them wasn't going to be easy. Sometimes they let me hang out with them, sometimes not. They made fun of my accent constantly, and always kind of kept a "you're lucky if we let you hang out with us" attitude. They had formed their little group and made me earn my place.

As such, my grades started suffering in seventh grade. I started to lose my confidence too. I had been a straight 'A" student, and was suddenly having trouble in classes, and suffering from falling grades. I started becoming depressed. I felt like no one liked me, or wanted me around. The boys I had become friends with still ostracized me a lot and continued to make fun of me. I remember sitting in class as one of them handed out invitations to his birthday party to everybody at our table but me. They would make it seem like a privilege to hang out with them during recess, and, whenever they wanted, would decide not to play with me. They made fun of my accent. Other kids picked on me and put me down. One big kid, in particular, liked to spit on me during English class.

I remember walking up to the pencil sharpener when the teacher had left the room, and he just started spitting on me. Then, he covered his fingers in saliva and started flicking it at me, over and over. I was amazed and just stood there, almost frozen with embarrassment - I didn't know what to do. I couldn't believe that someone would actually be so mean as to spit on me because I was short or new. But, spit on me, he did. He was a big kid. I was a small kid. He knew I wouldn't fight back. The rest of the class just laughed at the incident. Some may have been uncomfortable, I don't know. What I do know is that I felt very embarrassed and very insignificant.

I became afraid to try new things at school, and to go out for sports. Afraid of being made fun of teased. Despite being short, I had always been a good basketball player. I really wanted to try out for the basketball team in seventh grade but was afraid of being made fun of and laughed at. I didn't try out, even though I knew I probably could have made it.

On weekdays after school and on weekends, I mostly hung out by myself. I became more and more reclusive. I didn't have any friends. While other kids were going to parties, hanging out, going to school dances, doing the normal social and developmental things that kids that age do, I was sitting at home, usually drawing, watching TV, or riding my skateboard, I felt like I just didn't belong. And, girls certainly didn't show any interest in me - I was afraid to even think about asking a girl out. As most short men know and may studies will attest to, it's unusual, for a woman to be interested in a man shorter than she is. Imagine being a new kid, who is picked on, with a funny accent, who looks really young, and is much shorter than even the shortest girl. Not exactly the recipe for attraction by the opposite sex. At the time when most other kids were starting to go on dates, to have boyfriends or girlfriends - the idea of a member of the opposite sex having any interest in me just didn't seem possible. How could she? Me? I was short, different. I mean, I seriously didn't believe that any girl in my grade could ever possibly be interested in me as a boyfriend. That's the attitude I carried with me almost to the end of high school.

So, sadly, in the space of about two years, I went from feeling mostly normal, and very good about myself, both on a psychological and emotional level, to feeling inferior, and having little confidence in who I was and whether or not I belonged…

In eighth grade, I was about 4 foot eight inches tall, maybe shorter. As a point of reference, my best friend in 6th grade was 5 feet two, half a foot taller than I would be two years later.

The good news is that eighth grade, in many ways, was a whole different world. I guess I had paid my dues, so to speak, and was more readily accepted the next year. Even the kid, who had spit on me, was now my friend. I didn't have to prove myself as much anymore, and was now a bona-fide member of the group of boys I had mentioned above. I started having a lot of fun, and made two really good friends, whom I started doing everything with. I started doing the normal things that kids my age were doing, and had aspirations of building the confidence to eventually ask the girl I liked out on a date, of going to school sporting events, parties and more… I think life was returning back to normal. I went out for soccer, and ended up being the second leading scorer on our championship team. I tried out, and got on, my junior high school tennis team. And, I started socializing more, hanging out with friends, going to baseball games, going to the places where the kids in my grade socialized. I thought I had all the world ahead of me, and I was excited about the possibilities to come - I couldn't wait until ninth grade.

Don't get me wrong - my height was still a huge issue to me, and to many others, as well. I was still belittled sometimes, taken advantage of, and my height was constantly made an example of. Everyday I still kept wishing for a growth spurt, waiting for the moment when I would not feel inferior to others. Still, things were much better in eighth grade, and I thought I had all of the world ahead of me. I was excited about the possibilities to come - I couldn't wait until ninth grade

That's because I didn't know that my family was going to move again and I would never have the chance to experience any of the possibilities I had imagined.

High School

Like the first day of sixth grade - on the first day of ninth grade, I was scared to death. I was depressed at having moved again, having left behind good friends and a fairly normal life that had taken me two years to achieve. I didn't want to have to go through the entire process again - the ridicule, the lack of friends, kids picking on me who couldn't believe that I was in the same grade as they were. In Searcy, I was finally starting to live a fairly normal life and certain dreams and aspirations seemed attainable. Now, again, I was starting all over and had left everything I had worked for, and my friends, behind.

On the first day, my Principal dropped me off outside of my classroom and told me to go in and introduce myself. Then, he left. I was scared to death, scared to introduce myself. I did not want to go in. I must have stood outside that door for 10 minutes. I contemplated running, skipping school, anything not to have to walk into that door and face the ridicule that I knew waited for me. I had grown to expect it, and did not want to face the stares of a classroom full of strangers judging me and thinking about how short I was and how young I looked. But, I walked in, as I was supposed to, and introduced myself. The class just stared at me.

Like years before, making friends and overcoming my height at this new school proved difficult and unpleasant at best. I thought kids at this school to be very stuck up, very elitist. My feelings of inferiority just intensified. I was really looked down upon by the "cool class" and continued to feel like there was something wrong with me, that I wasn't good enough. As before, kids seemed to choose not to like me just because I was short. Kids also continued to call me "shrimp", "midget", etc. Lots of kids picked on me or tried to start fights simply because they thought I wouldn't fight back or was too short to fight back. It's strange, too, but something about being short causes people to treat you as if you are helpless, as if you're not as capable as the people of average height around you. They treat you like you're a puppet, or a little kid. Kids used to pick me up, or hold me against my will. They would put my arms behind my back and toy with me - let me go, then hold me again, let me go, etc. I guess it made them feel superior.

There was also another complication that minimized my chances of fitting in and making friends in this new town - the fact that we had moved into a house that was on the edge of town, by itself, and away from any kids. You see, in previous towns, I had always, at least, lived in a big neighborhood with lots of kids, and I always got to know and socialize with kids outside of school. Now, at the very start of my high school years, those important years when kids start to date, go to parties, learn to drive, become young adults - I was the new, short kid again with no friends, isolated both at school and at home.

So, needless to say, my first two years of high school were spent doing pretty much nothing and I became more and more depressed. I didn't socialize, hang out with friends, go to football or basketball games, go on dates, go to movies, DO ANYTHING. I spent every single night and every single weekend by myself, at home. Literally. My weekends consisted of riding my bike to the drug store to mess around and shooting baskets by myself. Saturday nights consisted of "Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island." And, "SCTV." I remember my older, taller sister, with the accent that these Southern High School boys liked, going to football games, and parties, and dating one of the most popular guys in school. I remember sitting in my dark room on Friday nights depressed, listening to my high school football team's game on the radio, and wishing I had friends to go to the game with. I was jealous of my sister. I remember hearing about school dances and wishing I had someone to go with, even if just guy friends, even if just to hang out. I remember coming home from school every day, depressed, knowing that I had another night of studying, or watching TV, ahead of me. I thought about, and missed, my friends in Searcy quite a bit. It just made me more depressed thinking about the people and friends I had left behind and the fun they were probably having. It also made me angry. I went through a lot to earn the respect of these kids and to develop the good friendships I had attained. Why did it all have to be taken away again?

Somewhere around spring of my sophomore year, things started to improve. By this time, something miraculous happened. I actually grew a little, and for the first time in my life, was actually not the shortest person in my grade. I was only in the low 5 foot area, but this meant I was at least as tall as some girls.

Also, there was a group of kids that I had gotten to know and had started to become friends with. I knew they used to go cruising around on weekends and started begging them to let me go with them. At first, they didn't want me to. I was seen as the baby, as too young, when in fact, I was a sophomore in high school and only a year younger than most of them. Another consequence of being short. If you're short, you must somehow be less mature or weaker than everyone else.

Still, I kept hounding them and finally, to my surprise, I wore them out - they let me hang out with them one Friday night! This was the start of a whole new, albeit brief era for me. I guess I proved myself with these guys. They saw that I wasn't just short, but a funny, intelligent person and fun to be around. I started hanging around with them every weekend. That spring and the first month of summer were a blast. My friends and I did what you're supposed to do when you're in high school - cruise, hang out, socialize. I was finally starting to like my school, I had friends, and I couldn't wait until my junior year. Finally, I thought, I'd be an upperclassman, with lots of friends, and, hopefully, two years ahead of me full of all the normal fun of high school life.

You can guess what happened next.

During the middle of that summer, my family moved to Mesa, Arizona for two months - yes, two depressing, lonely boring months during the hottest time in Arizona. At the end of the summer, we moved to a town in Iowa near Des Moines, where I had started elementary school. As in the previous town, we moved into a house out in the country, with few kids, if any, of my age around.

My junior year of high school, I just gave up. Literally.

As in previous schools, the kids in my first period class all gawked at me. It didn't help, that this first class had no empty seats, so I was seated at a table in the back of the classroom. Yes, put on display, for everyone to turn around and look at, stare at, make fun of. And, they did. One kid, in particular, spent every day staring back at me, trying to intimidate me, putting me down all of the time because of my height, saying he was going to beat me up. He was kidding more than anything, but he seemed to derive pleasure in just the stress he would cause by threatening me. Kids in study hall pointed me out and whispered about how short I was, and that I couldn't possibly be a junior. Kids on the bus made fun of me. Some younger kids tried to pick fights with me as if to prove they were somehow superior since they were taller than me. Other kids in my grade threatened to beat me up, much like the kid I mentioned above, taking pleasure in the stress it caused me. Kids in PE threatened to throw me outside in nothing but my underwear. They treated me like I was a freshman, instead of a junior. I was always trying to think of ways to deal with these situations, what to say, and how to avoid the consequences of these threats.

Much of my junior year, I avoided other kids and didn't talk to anyone. By this time, I was just plain scared. I kept to myself, and even ate lunch by myself in whatever secluded spot I could find. I was afraid to be seen in the cafeteria, or outside of school by other kids. Afraid I'd be made fun of. It was as if I felt that it was wrong for me to be like everyone else, that I shouldn't go to, or be at the same places as other kids, unless it was required, such as in class. When my family moved into a new house in town before my senior year, I would sometimes even hide from other kids in the neighborhood. I was literally afraid to be seen and would go outside, such as biking, etc, at night so that no one would ever see me.

Overall, I don't think a more boring year of high school could have been spent by anyone. I was a junior, and all I did was sit at home, and watch TV, and like before, draw. During the year, I became more and more reclusive. I was depressed, scared, and I just didn't care any more. I didn't care to make friends, really didn't see the purpose, since I was going to graduate in another year. I certainly didn't socialize, and, again, did not go to any school functions, go on any dates, hang out with friends on any weekends, DO ANYTHING.

So, sadly, during what many people call the greatest years of a person's life, during those years of discovery, independence, sexual maturation and exploration, dating, etc; during most of my high school years, I spent them sitting in my room, at home, feeling too short and inferior and like I didn't belong.

When I was a senior in high school, I finally had my first date, went to my first school dance, party, football game, etc. In fact, this was the first of ANY of these or other normal school functions or social events I attended since I started junior high.

College was much like high school. I was picked on a lot because of my height, but admittedly, probably not as much as in younger years. I guess by the time they reach college, people have matured a little. Or, maybe, just relatively speaking, the abuse didn't seem as severe. Besides, I wasn't really the new guy anymore, either. Everyone, when they enter college, is the new guy. I was just one of them, and, there were a lot more short guys in college - maybe I just wasn't singled out as much. But, girls? By the time I was in college, I had so little self-esteem, it was very hard for me to talk to girls and try to ask them out. How sad to be surrounded by over 10,000 college-aged girls, most of them single, and not have the courage to ask any of them out. Most of the time that I actually did get up the courage to ask a girl out, I usually acted so awkward and insecure, that I got no where.

Needless to say, I never had a college girlfriend. Most girls looked past me, anyway. Who wants a 5'6" college freshman who looks like he's 14? And, I did. And, sadly, I became a 5'6' senior in college who looked like he was a senior in high school. Still not what most college senior women are looking for.

When I was 25, I had a person in a clothing store ask me if I was looking for a suit for high school graduation. When I was 27, a woman at a supermarket almost refused to sell me a lottery ticket because she didn't think I was 18. I could fill page after page with similar experiences where people wouldn't believe, or accept my age, a lot of it due to my shorter stature. Of course, like most other shorter people, there were times as a child when I wasn't tall enough to ride the rides at amusement parks, wasn't allowed to participate in functions geared towards children my age, etc. No one believed I was as old as I was.

Today

Today, I deal with the effects of my shorter stature and my upbringing on a continual basis. It's not just my height, but the effect of the continued moves and the constant reminder of how short I was.

I guess one of the worst consequences of being short and something that still stays with me if I think about it, is the fact that I never got to be average height. I was sure I would. My parents are, my brother and sisters are. I was sure that I eventually would too. I couldn't wait until my junior or senior year when I would sprout, and grow to be 5'10" or 5'11. It never happened. I guess deep down I still have some resentment about that. I feel cheated. All of my life I was absolutely sure that someday, I would not be short. I counted on it. I don't like being shorter than my sisters. I was always shorter than they were. I was supposed to be taller. Do you know how surprised my sisters' friends are when they meet me?

I am 39 years old and unmarried. Never married, to be exact. Never even come close. I have had long-term relationships, but usually find relationships very difficult to maintain, many times due to my many insecurities, most of which revolve around my not feeling as if I'm good enough. People ask me, "how come you've never been married? What's wrong with you?" The relationships I do have are few and far between. Sadly, as I get older, even "fewer and farer" in between. I have trouble dating women. The biggest problem I have is just approaching them. Yes, at 39, I am still scared to death. Every time I see a woman I am interested in, I am afraid to go up and approach her, afraid she will not see me as good enough for her. I have been in bars or parties and have had woman smiling at me, or showing interest, but I am afraid to go up and talk to them. I am afraid that once I get out of my seat, they will see how short I am, and will be disappointed. I am afraid they will just think that I am not good enough for them. Then, even more sadly, if I do get the courage to speak with them, 99 times out of a 100, I act very insecure, become very nervous or anxious. That usually blows my chance with this last 1 percent.

The sad thing is that I am not a bad-looking guy - in fact, most women find me attractive, and some have called me very attractive. Some don't even think I'm that short (bless them!) I take good care of myself, and work out 5 days a week. I am in very good shape. And, I admit, I have had beautiful girlfriends. That's kind of the "Catch-22" of the whole thing. I have dated very attractive women, even women considerably taller than me. (Yes, lightening has struck at least a couple of times!) I know women find me attractive, yet I still think that I am somehow inferior, and, of course, too short.

Isn't it amazing that a person can have relationships with nice, attractive women, women who accept you, who find you smart, attractive, funny, who don't care about your height; yet you still don't think you're good enough for the next woman you meet?

I also find friendships very difficult to have and maintain, and really don't have any close, personal friends. I really don't think I have any normal relationships. With guys, especially. I find, to be blunt, that I just don't know how to have them. I don't know how to act, how to be "one of the guys." I never was one, so being one now…well…And, of course, I still get teased about my height by many of my current friends, although I know they aren't really trying to offend me. They don't realize that, although I just roll with the teasing, it still can bother me.

The friendships I do have are mostly with women, and even they are strained and are difficult for me to maintain, as they usually result from an initial attraction/dating situation and then I try to maintain them as friendships.

Work situations are also very difficult for me. From the interview to day-to-day work life, I find it hard to maintain jobs and especially maintain friendships at jobs. I don't completely understand it, but I think interviewing for, and then maintaining jobs, emulates much, the situations I encountered growing up. Every time I partake in an interview, I find myself feeling like the "new kid" again. I am afraid the interviewer will think I am too short, not as capable, that he/she won't accept me. I feel inferior from the get-go. So, instead of just going in and talking about my credentials, I am usually more worried about my height or about fitting in. Again, this is sad, as I am a person with a Masters Degree in my field. I was Salutatorian of my high school (I had lots of time to study!), and I am very good at what I do.

Once I am in a position, I almost always instantly feel like "the odd man out". I usually feel like no one likes me and that people are looking down on me because of my height or that they just think that I am different. It takes a long time for people to get to know and understand me. And, vice versa - it can take a long time for me to get comfortable around my co-workers. And, yes, even as adults, there is still the occasional situation where someone does make fun of my height in the workforce which just worsens my feelings about the situation. Overall, it takes me a long time to develop work friendships and to feel like I fit in.

Starting around seventh grade, I developed a social disorder called social anxiety disorder (which I still have to this day), attributable much, I believe to my continued moves, the continued ridicule, ostracization, my shorter stature, and isolation. Genetics probably played a role as well. This is not an issue to be explored in this paper, but I could fill twice the space discussing the hows, whys and effects this condition has had on my life.

Height Discrimination

Like many others short adults, I still experience height discrimination.

People still sometimes treat me as less capable, especially when I first meet them, especially in the work force. I work much harder than most males of average height to prove I am capable at my job and to earn my co-workers' respect. It's amazing how the big guy is instantly seen as being more capable, smarter, a natural leader. Because he's big, he must be smarter, better at his job. Studies show how shorter males, on average, receive less in salary and fewer promotions. I've lived this and I know this to be true.

I have had taller women who, on a date, have asked me not to stand too close to them, so that others will not see how short I am.

Many times, it is hard for me to find clothes that fit, especially shoes and pants. I frequently have to special order them. Often, shoes I am interested in, don't come in my size, pants inseams aren't short enough.

Many people also still assume that because I'm short I must not be very good at sports or very athletic, so I am often picked last to play. That's when they get their surprise!

I have experienced height discrimination in interviews, and am usually met with surprise when I am initially interviewed. People are always expecting somebody taller. I have been told I don't have a "managerial presence". I guess I would if I was taller. I have even, I believe, been denied a job, simply because of my height (to be honest, probably more than once). How else would you explain two successful phone interviews, and then upon arrival for the final in-person interview, not even been given a chance to have the interview after my prospective supervisor saw me stand up? Yes, once she saw me stand up, a clear look of surprise came across her face, and I could tell she was clearly disappointed. It was quite odd and quite obvious. So obvious, in fact, I wondered if there was something wrong with me - was there something on my suit? Did my hair look funny? Did my teeth fall out? She went to inform the VP with whom I was to interview that I had arrived, then came back and said he was too busy to interview me, and that they would reschedule. They never did.

In bars, at parties, in many social circumstances, girls often look past me. You don't know how many times I've heard comments, such as "you'd be really cute if you were taller". Most women do want a taller man, or at least an average height man. Also, I absolutely hate going up to a bar to purchase a drink during busy times, because I know the bartender will ignore me in favor of taller patrons. Any time I am in a crowded situation, it is frustrating. Many times at concerts, festivals, sporting events, etc., guys stand in front of me like I'm not there. Women too. They bump into me and are rude as if I'm not tall enough to warrant their respect. People just don't afford you the same respect they do for average-heighted individuals.

For some reason, people also seem to think it's okay to point out my less than average height, or to make fun of it - "boy, you're short!" Another friend likes to call me an Oompa Loompa. A friend in college used to call me "shortshit." One of my best friends still puts me down because of my height every single chance he gets. (Okay, admittedly, I can't resist making fun of him and his ever-balding scalp.) I've never really understood this. After all, I can't do anything about it. Nobody thinks it's okay to tell an ugly person they're ugly, do they? A fat person, that they're fat? Why do they think it's okay to tell me I'm short? And, not only that, make fun of it? Can you imagine if people thought that it was okay to make fun of a person because they are unattractive? "Wow - you're really ugly! Did the bag fall off of your head?"

In general, sadly, I approach just about any social situation where I am to meet new people or be among a group, as if I'm inferior, not wanted, the outcast, too short, not good enough. This is something, to this day, I am still working on, as I try to change and improve my self-image.

Conclusion

I guess I could go on, but I'm sure I've said enough already. Anybody who's short, knows much of what I'm talking about, and has unique experiences of their own. My own experiences were compounded even more by my constant moves, being reminded every few years of how short I was, being made fun of and ostracized. I really don't know what I would be like if I hadn't moved so much, or how much my height would have affected me. Would I have encountered the same amount of ridicule, exclusion, abuse? Would I still have some of my self-esteem and self-image issues if I had grown up in one place, without being reminded every few years how short and inferior I was? If I had had stability? I don't know. But I doubt it.

I don't want anyone to get me wrong. I didn't write this essay too complain about how tough my life has been, or how awful my childhood was. There are people who have experienced a hundred times worse than what you, me, or any short individual ever has or will. I always had a roof over my head, and food to eat. I was never abused. I don't have a debilitating disease, I am in good health. And, I know there are people who are shorter than me - guys who are 5'4", or 5'2" - who would probably be quite happy to be 5'6" (Actually, I'm 5'6" and 1/4th!). And, there are some people who really don't think I'm that short, many attractive women, included. Plus, although it usually takes a while, for people get to know me, after initial impressions and appearances no longer apply, they don't really care about my height anymore.

I guess I wrote this essay just to relate the experiences of someone who is short, who moved a lot as a child, who has been persecuted because they are short (and still am). Maybe someone else will identify with, or take some comfort knowing know there are others out there who have experienced the same kind of discrimination that they have. And, as I've said above, it's not the end of the world to be short.

So, in the end, I'll say that those of us who are short should always try to look at the bright side, and be thankful for the things we have, for our health, our intelligence, whatever we have that we can be grateful for. Let's do our best to emphasize the positive, and not dwell on our "short"comings. And remember that we are not alone, and take comfort in others who have shared our experiences, knowing that just because we are short, we are every bit as good as any tall person and have every bit as much to offer.