I am small.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I guess it bears repeating for the purposes of this post. I am 5ft 1″ tall… or small, as the case may be. Almost inevitably, the first words out of most people’s mouths when they meet me in flats is, “Oh my God, you’re so short!” And I am!
I am so short.
I am so short the only exercise my upper arms ever get is from dragging chairs over and back to the kitchen so I can reach for the ingredients I need while cooking. I am so short that when things are on the top shelf in the supermarket I need to ask for assistance to get them down. I am so short that if somebody tall sits in front of me at the cinema, I spend the entire movie tilting my head from the left to the right and vice versa in order to see the screen, and if a concert is standing-room only I am guaranteed to see nothing but a sea of shoulders.
Having said that, I am not petite.
Short, petite people look like fairies or sylphs. They’re graceful and delicate and look as if the earth’s gravity only barely holds them tethered to the ground. I do not look like that. I look like a regular person who has shrunk in the wash. I look like I was popped in on a hot cycle by mistake and left in there for a tumble dry.
I went through a phase as a teenager when I hated my height. I hated the terrible, terrible, dad-level jokes that came with it. All the cheery, “Oh, how convenient! An armrest!” lines accompanied by an elbow on my head, all the times I was unexpectedly lifted off the ground, all the morons who thought it was absolutely hilarious to hold things just centimetres out of my reach… I imagined myself suddenly extending like Inspector Gadget and backhanding them across the face.
With a bionic hand, of course.
For maximum impact.
Luckily for me and my blood pressure levels, this period of my life was mercifully brief. I grew into myself (though obviously not too much) and embraced my inner shorty. I realised that my height could sometimes be a positive. For example:
- I’ve never had to worry about towering over anybody because that has simply never happened.
- No matter how high the heels – or the platform heels – I still have never had to worry about towering over anybody. Still no. Always no.
- I can shop in the children’s section, which sometimes has nicer stuff.
- Scandalously short dresses are an acceptable length on me.
- Long tops can be worn as scandalously short dresses.
- No matter how cramped airline seats get, there will always be more than enough room for my legs.
- I have never had to duck because of a low ceiling.
- Ditto for low shower heads.
- Ditto for small doorways.
So overall…. it balances out. Do I have legs that go on for days? No. But do my feet ever stick out over the end of the bed? Also no. I can stretch out like a starfish and know that the duvet (no pun intended) has me covered.
I’m looking at my two six-month old kittens right now. Maya is a flimsy, lean little thing. She is, as kittens go, petite. I can pick her up with one hand. She is graceful and agile and manages jumps I didn’t think were possible for a mammal that isn’t a kangaroo or a jerboa.
Oscar on the other hand, despite eating the same amount of food and being the exact same age, is a bona fide chunk of a cat. He weighs the same as a miniature hippopotamus, and has no discernable elegance in his movements whatsoever. He thumps around the apartment like a tiny despot, singing the song of his people. Sometimes he leaps – front legs stretched wide like a flying squirrel – for the bed, or a chair, or the windowsill, and he misses, landing back on the ground with an earth-shaking thud. He is dense. He has a wide, fat little head and when I lift him, I make an audible “OOF!” sound.
If he were a human child I would have already signed him up for the local rugby club.
Maya can leap in enormous bounds that Oscar will never manage, but Oscar can pull himself up bodily to areas that Maya can’t reach. Maya can slink through the narrowest of gaps if a door is left slightly ajar, but Oscar can bulldoze his way in head first.
It all balances out.
Does size matter? Not in my experience.
…But I know it’s harder for guys.
*As a teen. I am no longer a hellion demonspawn. I wasn’t a rebellious teenager but at times my moral compass was in need of a good shake.