The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Let Us Now (P)Raise Famous Men

She meant well, I know.

Years ago, after I got a letter from my mom. Also in the envelope was a newspaper clipping. I unfolded it to find it was an article about a company that made lifts for short men to wear in their shoes, in order to achieve a few inches of height. When I spoke with her on the phone, she asked me if I got the clipping, and I confirmed that I did. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that, as a gay man, I’d never hear the end of it if I got caught wearing lifts. I’d be better off just wearing heels or platform shoes.

That wasn’t the first such exchnge between my mom and I. When I was in college and home for a weekend visit, she handed me a newspaper clipping about fashion tips for short men. (One that I remembered was to avoid wearing cuffed pants. Reason: the cuff breaks the line of the leg, shortening it even further.) Again, she meant well. My guess is that she knew men of less-than-average height are generally at a disadvantage, and wanted to help me out if she could. (Studies have documented heightism in employment and politics. Plus, short kids are more likely to be bullied.)

And once, while watching television, we came across a 20/20 program about how short men get, well, short shrift.

The program defined short as something like 5′ 7″ and under. At that point 5-foot-tall mom turned to me and asked “So, what does that make you?”

“The tall end of short,” I replied, from a height of or around 5′ 7″.

It’s funny, height isn’t something I’ve ever been particularly sensitive about, though I’ve alway said that if I could change change something about myself physically, I wouldn’t mind a few more inches of height. Not to be a giant or anything. Just enought to make me somewhere around 5′ 10″. (Average height for American men is around 5′ 9″.) But I’ve never felt disadvantaged by my height, or at least been aware of it.

(I don’t think height is a big deal for gay men. It’s likely that guys tend to go for guys who are the same or near the same height. But I’ve dates guys who were taller than me and shorter than me. The hubby and I are actually the same height. Parker is looking like he’s going to be six feet tall by the time he stops growing. He’s in kindergarten, and already taller than some of the 2nd graders in his soccer league.)

The above came to mind when I a Guardian article about famous men who wear height-enhancing shoes.

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We are not aware that Robert Downey Jr’s film Iron Man 2 is subtitled “the glam rock years”, so we have to assume that the high heels he is wearing on set are to enhance his diminutive stature. Stacked heels and shoe lifts are nothing new in Hollywood – Pasquale di Fabrizio, the self-styled “shoemaker to the stars”, made shoes for everyone from Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson until he retired from his shop in LA, and revealed that he discreetly added height to many celebrities (he named Michael Douglas and Sylvester Stallone among others).

On the brilliantly odd and self-explanatory website, which has a contributor called Glenn, 5ft 8in, who gets himself photographed with celebrities such as Mel Gibson and Leonardo Di Caprio for comparison, like a human tape measure, the consensus among its fans is that most male celebrities have a little help.

I looked at the slideshow of the men in the article: Bono, Nicholas Sarkozy, Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Mick Jagger. It got me thinking. These are all men of short stature who have achieved big things. In term of accomplishment (yes, even Gibson whose politics I hate and Cruise who just freaks me out), they’re huge. (Pun intended.)

I decided to do some research and see if I could find other men who fit the same bill. I think I came up with quite an impressive list.

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I’m sure it could be a much longer list, with even more names added. But as it stands, this is pretty good company to be in.

One Comment

  1. Are you serious? Well, I can tell that you are, but seriously … honestly and truly, not blowing sunshine your way because you’re my friend, but I never, ever, ever considered you short. I figured you were average height. You certainly seemed so among Demosthenians. Now, Mike M. was a bit on the short side. Scott W. is tall. You always seemed of average height to me.