Some Small Sense

Shopping experiences and store reviews by a very petite woman. Indeed, it sucks. 4'10", 87 pounds, and full grown - is it a surprise I have trouble finding clothes?

March 21, 2007

Head Over to Heels in the Netherlands?

As you probably know, average female height in America is about 5'4". Obviously, I'd feel only slightly short compared to the local population in China or Japan (5'0" - for the older population anyway), but what happens if I went to the Netherlands (5'7")?

I recently was invited to join an email group that discussed this very issue! Read some of our discussion below and let us know how you'd feel in the Netherlands! For those of you that may be interested in checking out where you should be flying to on your next vacation to get your new wardrobe, please check out Wikipedia's Human Height page to get each country 's average height.
Amanda: amy, we had a discussion not long before you joined about an article rachel read about average height for women in the netherlands recently rising to 5ft8. she pointed out that since women on average there are 4 inches taller than women are here, that if we were to go there we would feel like we shrunk 4 inches.... the point of this discussion was this: even though none of us list "to be taller" as one of our top 2 or 3 reasons for wearing high heels, do we think that would change if we were transplanted to the netherlands? the 6 of us were split right down the middle on this. i for one said, yes, if i needed to wear 4 inch heels while there just to feel as tall as i feel usually feel at home, then i'd probably wear heels, at least sometimes, specifically so that i wouldn't feel so short in a world of amazons. care to weigh in on where you stand (no pun intended!) on this?

Amy: Actually, you'd probably feel even shorter than that, because practically speaking, you're even more on the fringes of normal height there. Because of the fact that I can't wear whatever I want off the rack, I tend to be a rather practical dresser. So even here, when I can probably inch into the realm of average-short height with 4" heels on, I don't really do it to try to make up for my shortness. I'm not going to hobble around on 4" heels just to be taller! I'll do it because I think it makes me look hotter :) I'm a bit of a contrarian so I would probably make a point to go out of my way to wear flats in the Netherlands. Sorry ladies, there's no way we can be tall there. Even with stilts, you'll look...really short still. Would you wear flats to blend in in a place that has women at 4'6" on average?

Elaine: i do see your point amy, but what i think might bother me a bit is that even women of average height there in 4 inch heels would 6ft tall. and i think the quote was something like 1 out of every 20 women there is 6ft or taller. and if they're wearing heels on top of that am i'm not..... i don't know. i guess maybe i could take the opposite viewpoint and make it a game. try to see just how much i can be towered over by or something. is that the kind of thing you're talking about?

Amy: More like, they'll tower over me anyway...why make things hard for myself by wearing shoes that will probably hurt my feet? I can understand if you're within the realm of average...but we're completely not. As I've said to my friends, I'm not fooling anyone - I'm really really short. Really tall shoes will still not make me tall.


So maybe you won't be surrounded by tall Dutch women anytime soon, but how would you handle the situation readers? Are you a "fight for every inch you can" kinda gal/guy? Or are you more like me, the "I'm too wussy/lazy to deal with the pain of high heels" type?

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March 20, 2007

CNN Features Segment on Short Discrimination

CNN's Dan Lothian released a short video segment online today entitled, "Small World" that highlights a few of the problems that short individuals face every day. Thank you to my friend Farid, who sent me a link. It's a short four-minute video, so watch it!

It's an interesting feature that tries to give the topic a fair shake. He notes that being short can have real world repercussions - particularly for men in dating and "some say" in workforce pay parity. This latter was probably the only point that I found a little disingenuous - pay inequality (along with access to promotions, etc.) has long been documented in the workforce.

He speaks with a few prominent individuals that have been fighting against short discrimination:

Matthew Campisi, president of the National Organization of Short Statured Adults (NOSSA), speaks with Lothian about his experiences with height discrimination.

Ellen Frankel has written and talked about the problems of short stature in her book, "Beyond Measure."

Please take a look at their work!

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March 18, 2007

Tall = Basketball Player, Short = Hobbit?

A few weeks ago, I went out to dinner at Poke, this great sushi place on the UES. This place is always super crowded and as we were leaving, I noticed a very tall guy squeezed in the corner right by the door. I shamelessly admit that I always check out all the super tall and super short people around me (Hey! I just mean their stature people!), so I definitely was paying attention when it happened.

As we were walking out, a woman walking in looked up in surprise at Tall Guy and said, "Wow, you're really tall. You must be a basketball player!"

The look on Tall Guy's face was priceless. He was probably in his early 30s, probably at least 6'5"(?), and had a slight bit of a beer belly from sitting way too long at the law firm/investment bank. He didn't have a couch potato look, but there was no way this guy was a pro or semi-pro like she seemed to be implying. Hungry and crowded into the corner, I could tell he was trying really really hard to come up with some response that wasn't rude or too self-deprecating. Maybe this woman was doing a piss poor job at flirting? Eventually, he settled on a polite, "no, but I used to play a little bit when I was in school."

I think I may have made it out of the door before I started laughing uncontrollably and commenting really loudly about the hilarity of the situation. I couldn't help but think of the grocery store incident a few months ago. I forget sometimes that tall people get as much abuse about their height as short people. Perhaps Restaurant Lady was trying to be flattering? Maybe it's just everyone Pavlovian response to assume 'basketball player' to the stimulus of a Very Tall Person - and she just didn't happen to have a better verbal filter?

All I know was that I actually felt really badly for this poor guy! I mean, how could he take it as a compliment either? I'm sure several things could have flitted through his head at that moment, including: 'I actually suck at basketball. Don't you actually have eyes woman?? I'm so out of shape that I have a gut. Do I have to hear this again???'

This of course, gets me thinking of all the common and outrageous assumptions about people based solely on height. I confess that I too have the basketball = tall connection wired in my brain somewhere (but have a better filter than she did). Tall thin women usually make me think 'model.'

The obvious snide and rather unlikely connections with short people I can think of are typically:
  • dwarves
  • hobbits (wait, you mean that they don't really exist?)
  • jockeys
  • circus people

Of course, I think '12-year old' usually is the top of the real list.

What are things you automatically associate with very tall/short people yourselves?

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Post Away....


Annoymous #1 and #2, I have to admit you're correct. Nothing like being reminded that heated opinions always attract more attention. Thanks for also reminding me that this sort of thing isn't always bad!

Sorry to be a buzz kill when I posted this earlier. 70 posts into my blog, and you'd think I'd learn it by now right? Readers, please bear with me while I live and learn! Please be sure to knock me upside the head if I ever try committing blog suicide again!


Silly me, I somehow wasn't expecting the sheer number of comments that Nancy's letter generated throughout my blog. I'm definitely glad that everyone's being so responsive. While I'm certainly not surprised at how heated people got, I want to state flat out that I don't always agree with everyone's comments. So I'll stop posting replies just to clarify that. Also, I realize that I am (and so is everyone else!) a hypocrite, as personal reflections aren't always flattering or "fair," and have to be read in context.

I publish everyone's comments and approve them only to avoid 'bots spamming my site. Keep posting, but try to be nice, ok?


March 15, 2007

Japan Will Solve Everything!

I've been receiving a slew of letters lately and I'm loving it! Definitely keep them coming!


I stumbled upon your blog today through a series of links, and I knew I had to send you an email. I'm almost exactly your size (an inch taller!) and I've had all the same clothing frustrations you're having. Currently, though, I'm living in Japan teaching English, and I wanted to tell you that in Asia clothes are actually EASY to find. I read your post on Uniqlo, and you should know that Uniqlo in Japan stocks sizes that fit the "petite" set in America. Their size S fits me perfectly, and I've been stocking up on their basic pants and shirts to bring home. I can walk into almost any store and find my size (I'm still the smallest size, but not so small that it has to be special ordered or altered). Many of my friends have gone to Thailand and have had suits custom made for $100. You expressed some hesitation about going to Asia and not being able to find stuff that fits. Bite the bullet. Buy the ticket.

I got into making my own clothes before coming to Japan, and will probably go back to doing that once I move back to the States. It's something I like to do, but it sure is nice to have the option here of going out and finding a new shirt on the weekend. Even the GAP sizes here are much, much smaller. I've worn Banana Republic Petite 00 pants and shirts in the past, and while they usually work fine, they break my budget just a little bit. I went into a thrift store here, and for the first time in years found clothes that fit off the rack.

I've always dreamed of coming to New York to go to all the little Soho stores, but now I'm re-directing that desire to Thailand or India where I have hope of finding my size. It's just too depressing to find cute things I can never wear. If you ever get into sewing and want to know how to alter patterns for the petite set, I can be of service.

Long live the petite woman!

- Kendra at Kyushu Chronicles

Hey Kendra!

Thanks for writing, and thanks for linking here! I totally know I have to suck it up and take a trip to Asia. I worked for a sizing/shape consulting company for a little bit and was told that I am actually shaped very much like the average Japanese female! Believe me, when I can slap together enough to take a trip over there, I'll be beaming over in a jiffy. Maybe you can even be my guide?

I also have a Japan Uniqlo shirt in Small that fits perfectly (thanks B!). You have no idea how frustrating it was to walk into the giant new Uniqlo downtown and find that everything I wanted (hello cheap well made cashmere sweaters...) was way too big! I'm completely unsurprised that the American brands there are Japanese sized. There are plenty of European brands (and obviously Asian) that size way up for Americans here - it's just catering to your market.

Unfortunately, your fabulous alteration advice will fall on my deaf ears (but perhaps my readers will find it useful?). I have NO sewing experience whatsoever. It's a miracle I passed home economics in high school (not my choice - it was required for both genders) since I couldn't figure out how to properly thread a sewing machine!

Don't feel so badly about missing out in SoHo. It's fun for ideas, and besides, think of all the money you'd be saving! Thanks again for writing Kendra. Definitely keep us posted on what brands may be good buys in Japan!

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March 14, 2007

Amazonians in the Subway?

hey there. i came across your blog and have been reading it all day! keep up the good work. i'm enjoying it! i'm 4ft10 also, and about 95lbs. i live in ny too, on the upper east side. and while i agree with all the things you say about the fashion industry, the one thing i want to get off my chest to someone who can relate is what is going on with all these 6ft plus tall women, and why are they all wearing heels? i know they say average height is 5ft4, but to go by my neighborhood i would swear it's more like 5ft8. every time i ride the subway in flats i feel like i'm in the land of the amazons. it seems like a few times per day i see women have to duck their heads down to enter or exit the subway car. crazy. is it just me or have you noticed the same kind of thing as well?


Hey Nancy, thanks for reading my blog and writing me! I totally agree that it seems like everyone on the subway in much taller than me - but I wonder if it's because we are particularly sensitive to it? I also live on the UES, and I would posit that my impression is about 5'6" for women on average - but as you point out, everyone seems to be wearing heels anyway. I also suspect that the shorter riders in your subway car do what I do - try to find a seat ASAP so they don't get smothered by the giants around them!

Women wear heels for a variety of reasons - and I would say that gaining height is NOT the first on that list for most people. It's not for me either! I personally wear heels because they make me feel more dressed up and sexier. Certainly, there are height advantages, but I've stopped believing that anyone is fooled into thinking I'm really 5'4" by wearing 6" heels (I don't). The tall women you see probably feel similarly - flats won't make anyone think they're shorter, so why shouldn't they just wear their heels and feel good too?

Also, I want to just point out that the UES isn't exactly a fair sample of what is average in the city, much less the country! I suspect if you go out to the outer boroughs, you'll notice that people are a bit more diverse (in every way).

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