A Whirlwind of Emotions
by Lindsay Larson, September 2006

My life has been a whirlwind of emotions, mostly due to the public at large. I grew up in the hospital mostly until I was five years old. I had been ill with pneumonia. My mother was worried right away that something wasn't right. At nineteen, she didn't have any knowledge of the genetic disorder that I would later be diagnosed with. A combination of factors has led me to be the petite person that I am today. My families on both sides aren't very tall. The average woman in my family is only 5' 2" and the average man in my family is 5' 9". Also, hypothyroidism is a symptom of the genetic disorder that I have, which could possibly be a reason as to why I didn't grow much. In any event, I don't mind being petite, it has many advantages, however, people do mind and that's why I'm writing this essay.

Besides being petite, I look younger than my age of twenty-four and have a small frame as I'm only 93 pounds and am 4' 11". Now, you'd think that because our society is so obsessed with being thinner and looking younger I would have all the confidence in the world, but I don't. Looking younger than I am is quite a curse, as I get looks when I'm with my husband. They think he's a pedophile. This is very troubling to me as I think I have every right to be with my husband, who is only three years older than me and is 5' 10". Now, I've been asked from people who don't know my husband if he is short, as if I'm supposed to be with someone who fits the same profile as me. I find this insulting and irritating.

The world likes to put people in nice, neat categories so that they are comfortable in their minds and will be able to sleep at night. Some people however don't fit their mold, and I'm one of them. I chose to marry my husband because of his mind and how he carries himself. I didn't choose my husband because society approves and thinks I should marry a person who might look like my brother. While in Key West with my father, we were asked if we were a couple, pretty disgusting in my opinion since I happen to look like him. I feel that I should be able to be with who I want to be with, and that I shouldn't be looked at as they don't even know that my husband and I are in fact married if they look at us from a distance. My husband is also multiracial, with a mix of white, African American, and Native American blood. As he looks mostly African American, people also assume things about him as if he shouldn't be as intelligent as he is. Being from a place in Minnesota where the population is over 90% white, we aren't accepted as apart of the culture here. He actually is originally from New Jersey, where the population is more culturally diverse and where he is more comfortable. Minnesota nice doesn't exist and I wish people would stop using that term. This all has something to do with my pettiness as because people have these preconceived notions, I am unable to go out in public with my husband, even as friends. People think these weird thoughts like what we are doing together, what makes him attracted to me, etc. I certainly don't consider myself unattractive. When it comes to my career, I haven't seen any obvious connections to me not getting jobs because of my petite-ness.

I have always excelled at writing and working with computers, and also being friendly despite people's attitudes toward me. For this reason, I have chosen to be a Technical Writer and am going to school for that. In the meantime, I'm working in a Customer Service call center where nobody sees what I look like and has no preconceived notion of me. I tried to get into a rather famous clinic in Minnesota for years, working as a temp and I kept getting calls from departments for interviews, but would never get hired full time. They would always tell me that I don't have the experience yet, even though I've been working since I was seventeen years old in an office environment. I don't know if they had preconceived notions about the way I looked, I can't assume that. I already know that I have what it takes to succeed in the workforce, but I also know that it is very competitive at that particular Clinic. As of now I only have a two year degree in Liberal Arts with much computer knowledge and an excellent typing speed with almost one hundred percent accuracy. I was only able to get a Customer Service position despite my hard work in other areas such as being Editor-In-chief of our Community College newspaper and was staff writer for two years before that. I don't know if the way I look has prevented me from opportunities, but unfortunately I feel it necessary to make certain changes to my look by doing plastic surgery to make people see me as a woman, and not as an adolescent.

I am planning on having plastic surgery because I find that it's the only way my husband and I can be taken seriously as a couple. I don't want to gain weight to make people think I'm older, so I am saving money to go this way instead. I have given myself a makeover and feel that I dress very well, especially compared to people in the area. I also wear three inch heals now as I've noticed that I don't get as many looks when I'm 5' 2" instead of 4' 11". All of these changes are an unfortunate necessity because society feels that it is okay to treat me as an adolescent despite the fact that I am a grown twenty-four year old woman. In some aspects I have even put off having a family until these changes are made because I don't want people to think that I'm just babysitting my brother or sister when I am holding my son or daughter. Our world even has preconceived notions as to why it's wrong to be short, even as a woman.

Last night I was watching a program on E!, it kept mentioning how Salma Hyak has such a sexy body for being so petite. I later did some research and found that she was 5' 2". Shakira is also petite as well as several other gorgeous women in Hollywood. They don't want to be seen as being short because society would think that's bad. The program kept going on and on about Salma's petite-ness. That doesn't matter to me one bit, but the general population doesn't seem to think that shorter women can be sexy. I strongly disagree with what the general population says about them. Any woman can be sexy, no matter what her size. It's all in how you carry yourself and dress. My mother is only 5' tall. She is a lawyer who didn't get taken seriously at first in court. She tells me that when she asked for something to stand on as the pedestals were too tall; the judge smirked a bit and got her a box to stand on. Now she wears three inch heals at work. I've also noticed that short women like to hang around taller women, not women their own size as it emphasizes their shortness. My mom treats my younger sister differently as she's 5' 7" and not our height. It seems that she treats her with more respect, as if my sister can hold her own, but I can't. This cycle keeps perpetuating with women and it needs to stop. We need to respect each other for who we are, and not be competitive with each other. We also should respect our counterparts, short men. As I mentioned at the beginning of this essay, my family, men included aren't particularly tall. My sister is the exception. I have always respected the men in my family despite the fact that some of them are only 5' 6". I chose to marry my husband because I fell in love with him and we've been together for over six years, but I wasn't looking for a particular type of man to marry. I could have easily married a man who was 5' 7" or shorter, but that's not the way my life worked out. I know many shorter people who are very physically strong and mentally capable. Height doesn't equate to intelligence or physical strength to me. Being white or black doesn't equate to being intelligent or stupid either. Unfortunately, I know many white people who are very stupid and don't have much common sense at all as well as African American, etc. We need to stop giving in to stereotypes and treat each other as individuals. We give too much stock in to what the television says and we don't look at the real world for exceptions to their rule.