It’s not easy being petite

  • Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Today I put groceries away by hopping and hurling cans into the cabinet. So, yeah, it’s hilarious that I’m not tall.

I’m 5 feet 2 inches, which is three inches taller than my mother and five inches shorter than my dad. As my beloved brother, T-Bob once said bitterly, “We never had a chance.” (He’s 5 feet 8 inches on a deep breath.)

I was actually 5 feet tall until age 28, which nobody believes. But, my hand to God, I grew two inches years after humans are supposed to stop growing. It’s right there in my doctor’s files (probably beside the notation that says “Refuses to weigh.”)

There are some advantages to being short—although my mother always said, “Not short, darling. Petite. PETITE. Remember, men prefer petite women!” Bless her heart.

I don’t know if men prefer petite women, because I’ve never asked. I think men prefer any woman who will make them a sandwich, but that’s just me.

Here’s the truth about being short: Pants never fit, you can’t reach 50 percent of the items in a grocery store (75 percent in Costco), and if you’re in a wreck the airbag will probably kill you. Also, an extra five pounds looks like 15, shirt cuffs come down to your knuckles and you are described as “cute” to your dying day.

For years we’ve known that tall people earn more and are perceived as smarter and cooler than their shorter brethren. And an ABC news segment from 2010 claims that short people have more heart disease than tall people. Researchers in Finland actually say doctors should include shortness as a risk factor for heart disease, similar to obesity.

I call bull. I much prefer a study in Slate.com, which said shorter women are 13 percent less likely to develop cancer than tall women. And researchers who surveyed 2,600 Danish athletes reported that cross-country skiers were six inches shorter and lived nearly seven years longer than basketball players. (In case you’re wondering, a “tall” woman is over 5 feet 7 inches. A tall man is 6 feet or above.)

One scientist remarked, “A short person is like a Honda Civic: compact and efficient. Tall people are Cadillac Escalades. With all that extra weight and machinery, something’s just bound to go wrong.”

As I said, there are other advantages to being short. For example, most people will hesitate before punching a short person. We tend to look younger than we are. And we can slither through a packed crowd like a greased weasel.

In her glory days my mother, who looked like a 92-pound Lucille Ball, had many suitors. She insisted they picked her for her petite-ness. It sure wasn’t for her domestic skills, because she couldn’t boil an egg. But she could dance like a demon and won numerous jitterbug and lindy contests. (After marriage and four children, she belatedly learned how to cook and ballooned to a whopping 110 pounds. Bless her heart.)

There’s one other drawback to being short… er, petite. It looks odd when you hang out with super-tall people. The universe tilts a little to compensate.

I had a college boyfriend who was 6 feet 6 inches. He used to hug my head and almost smother me. It was ridiculous. But I am happy to report he eventually married a woman who was 6 feet 1 inch tall. And I’m sure they had very tall Escalades. I mean, children.

Julie R. Smith, who needs a step-stool in her kitchen, can be reached at widdleswife@aol.com.

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