tom cruise

I end up feeling pretty bad for short guys. I mean, not Napoleon. I do not feel particularly bad for Napoleon. I think, ultimately, like Jay Gatsby, Napoleon was alright in the end. Nor do I feel particularly bad for Hugh Dancy, who is a very short man, but seems to have a lovely relationship with Claire Danes. I also do not feel bad for Tom Cruise because I think he is utterly insane.

But, you know, all the other ones.

Sometimes, when I hear women bemoaning men’s judgments upon their physiques (men who will only date women of a certain size, men who will only dates blondes, or brunettes, or whatever their physical preferences happen to be) I think about how we talk about men’s height.

Almost as soon as I try to set friends up with my male friends they ask whether or not he’s tall. Sure, men are superficial, too. Still, I’ve never heard them ask for specifics regarding a woman’s height. They’ll ask, much more vaguely if she is “cute.”

And even if they are jerks who want you to look a very specific way – you can diet. You can dye your hair. But you can’t do shit to make yourself taller.

I mean, you could wear lifts, but, then, we sort of roll our eyes at people who wear lifts. The last time I’ve heard mention of them was when some tabloid deprecatingly mentioned that Tom Cruise wore lifts. And, of course, we all remember when, after their divorce, Nicole Kidman said that she could finally wear heels again. And at 5’7, Tom Cruise isn’t really even that short.

The only real option if you’re a man who is not born with giant genes is to get that Gattaca “make you taller” surgery, and that sounds terrible. Before you think, “Seriously, Jennifer, nobody outside of Gattacca ever got that surgery,” it exists. It costs around $40,000 and can go up to $100,000. It’s also incredibly painful – according to Details Magazine (print) “Beyond the agony of having your bones cut in two and stretched, [the surgery] carries risks like pinhole infections, nerve damage, and severe deformity.”

In spite of that, the surgery remains very popular for men in a great deal of countries – particularly China. Not just because it might up guy’s dating options – it also ups their odds of bringing home a higher paycheck. That does not change the fact that the patient will not be expected to walk normally for about five months after the surgery.

Still, one doctor claims “height is not a problem for all short people, but some suffer low self esteem for the rest of their life.” And two thirds of the patients are men.

Look, I’m not trying to be wildly overly dramatic about this. Women certainly have it rough int terms of being judged by their appearance. But it’s sort of ridiculous that anyone feels insecure enough about their height that they’re willing to attempt anything that means they can’t walk for five or six months (and could leave them severely deformed). Obviously, the next time you tell a guy he’s too short he’s probably not immediately going to rush out to attempt to have himself leg lengthened. But, like anything, those are comments that build up over time, and eventually, sure, insecurities do naturally set in.

I pretty strongly feel that men should stop critiquing women for any number of physical traits. But I also feel that, maybe in turn, the next time someone asks you how tall someone is, you not immediately dismiss him for being too short. Because otherwise he will spend $100,000 to grow three inches. No, just because it’s nice to try to see people for having qualities that are not only physical. It’s something we always wish men would do more of for us, so, hell, on the off chance you are one of those ladies who insist on guys being tall, maybe give a short guy a second look. They’re insecure about their appearance, just like us.

Picture via Getty