The Sharon Osbourne Show
Commentary by Brahma M., September 2006

In the UK, there is a daily chat show called "The Sharon Osbourne Show".

Recently, one of the guests on the show was the ex-supermodel Janice Dickinson and a co-host of hers from a particular TV show that I don't know nor do I watch. As part of a segment, Dickinson and her co-host had to identify which two individuals out of a group of 3 gentlemen were a professional model, and ex-professional model. The first two gentlemen to be introduced to Dickinson and her co-host were of short height probably between 5' 4" to 5' 8". This prompted Dickinson to make several comments such as "SHORTS!!!!" "SHORTY" and basically in association with her colleague, numerous derogatory comments about their height and how "No Way" could they be supermodels. The third gentleman to be introduced was of considerable above average height and this prompted the immature Dickinson to exclaim very loudly "Yes Yes Yes". She had no doubt in her mind along with her colleague that this was in fact the professional model.

To her and her colleagues dismay, Sharon Osbourne revealed that it was in fact the two shorter men who were the professional and ex-models. During Dickinson's childish rants, Osbourne was very quick to stand up for the two gentleman.

Regardless of the sting in the tail as it were of the situation, I found the show to be quite offensive and Dickinson's behaviour to be rather horrifying. The fact that this show is broadcast in a time slot when many school children would be watching was even more worrying as children will now think that it is perfectly acceptable to mock one's height like the way a mature woman such as Janice Dickinson did.

As such, I decided to phone the makers of the show "Channel Television" which is an in-house company of the British Television broadcaster "ITV". I spoke to a Ms. Claire Telford and expressed my offence and disgust at such behaviour and the fact that it was perceived as acceptable to broadcast at such a time slot. Her attitude and stance was that she basically condoned Dickinson's actions as Dickinson is a self-proclaimed "Larger than life" character and that height discrimination is the harsh reality of the modelling industry. I questioned her whether it would have been apropriate for Dickinson to comment on the ability of a model based on their skin colour and she replied no to this. She however stated that because there are no laws in the UK preventing height or weight discrimination, such behaviour was perfectly acceptable and refused to apologise for any offence caused by the show. When I repeatedly questioned whether she herself and Channel Television and ITV openly condoned height discrimination she never gave me a straight answer but kept reiterating the point that "it isn't illegal". She basically accused me of being agressive (which I was not at all) and put the phone down on me.

I decided to take my complaint to Ofcom (Office of Communication), which is the organisation in the UK that regulates broadcasting. I hope to hear a reply fom them soon.

This programme caused serious offence and it seems that ITV, one of the largest broadcasting companies in Britain happily condones such actions. Regardless of the nature of a particular celebrity, the broadcaster has a responsibility to the hard-working tax payers and citizens to ensure that no group or minority is offended by a particular programme or the behaviour of its presenters. It is shocking to learn that such incidents are played down and that height discrimination is almost accepted as a way of life.

If people are not discriminating on the grounds of skin colour, then it is on the grounds of height. I find Heightism to be the new Racism. Growing up, I seemed to think that heightism was only an issue in American culture, but it seems this new acceptable form of discrimination has and is spreading around the world like a cancer.

But unlike 50 years ago, there are ways to now treat cancer and in some cases cure patients of the condition. I believe this same analogy can be applied to heightism. Great inspirational figures such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi spent much of their lives fighting discrimination and prejudices in society and campaigning for racial equality. I'm sure such figures would be disgusted that discrimination is now increasingly manifesting itself as heightism.