I’ve been away for a while and haven’t written a blog entry for two weeks now, and this is partially because I had been suffering from the pain of my infected left big toe nail. Somehow, the pain had also caused my brain cells and creative juices to stop functioning, and hence I couldn’t come up with a nice post, but the past weeks had also got me thinking about self-image, confidence, and loving yourself despite your flaws. I also got to explore the blog of The Plump Pinay, which encourages voluptuous girls to love their bodies, and found it so inspiring and empowering.
As my left foot is still recovering from the minor surgery its big toe underwent last Monday (I reckon the doctor said it’s going to take at least two weeks for the wound to completely heal), it means that it’s going to be weeks of flat, open-toe footwear for me. I’m quite okay with the “open-toe” part, but the “flat” part is a bit of bad news. That means everyone from work will now know how short I really am (they already find me short even in my four to five-inch heels). I rarely or almost never go to work in flats because I feel like it’s more appropriate for office women to come to work in elevated shoes, even if it’s just two inches or so. I think it makes them look more professional and presentable and gives them a better stance. But next week and the weeks to come, I will have to stay away from heels or any footwear that can possibly hurt my post-surgery toe.
Anyway, this blog entry contains a list of things that vertically-challenged people like me want the rest of the society to understand, which I think should really be laid down, since it seems like the short have been unheard for the longest time now. I have observed that empowerment for people with weight and beauty-related issues is more widespread than that of height-related ones, and I don’t know if this is because height is not much of an issue anymore and that maybe short people don’t get discriminated as much as people with the issues I have mentioned above get (which I doubt, since I have personally experienced some sort of discrimination several times). If this is the case, then thank heavens! However, I still would like to air these thoughts and bring you this list:
1. Being academically and intellectually excellent is extra important for us because if we do not excel academically and intellectually, we might not get a decent job (unless we are artistic or have a talent of some sort).
Maybe I shouldn’t be generalizing on this, or maybe I should. I know excellence should be practiced by everyone, but you see, we find the need to be really extra hard on ourselves on this. I have been in the field of human resource for almost five years now, and here’s the deal: most jobs that do not require much academic background and experience usually have a height requirement. Those that do not have a height qualification are mostly from highly technical and academic fields, like research, education, business, finance, and the like. This puts a lot of pressure on short people’s shoulders. We need to work extra hard to get good grades and need to find a field that would look past our vertical limit in order to get a decent job. Not-so-highly technical and academic jobs like in the fields of sales and hospitality usually require a minimum height (Yeah, we can get sales-related or hospitality-related jobs, but they usually involve managerial or back-office work, which entails more brain work and higher competencies than frontline work, so that’s one case in point.) In other words, even if you have an exceptionally pleasing personality, an outstandingly pretty face, and a fit and healthy body, if you are below the height requirement, you better not apply. This is really frustrating because we cannot do anything about our situation. The overweight can change their diet and exercise more to lose their extra pounds; the not-so-physically-blessed can have plastic surgery (think Anne Curtis and Cristine Reyes in their movie “The Gifted”), but the short will remain living short and will surely die short (and even shorter if we get osteoporosis :D). So yeah, there are jobs that we permanently can never get, since we cannot do anything about what we lack. There are other fields we can enter that do not need for us to apply or undergo assessment, like make-up artistry and fashion design, among others, but those fields require talent and creativity and are therefore not that easy to enter into.
2. There’s a world up there that we literally could not see and reach, so we do not just figuratively need a helping hand, we literally need it.
Nobody wants to feel helpless, so as much as possible, I try my best to do things on my own and not ask for anybody’s assistance. However, there are things that I inevitably need help with: I need you to reach that can of Spam for me, coz if I struggle to reach for it, I might end up having a cracked skull; I need you to press that doorbell for me, as no amount of tiptoeing or wishing I was Mr. Fantastic can make me accomplish the task; I need you to reserve a seat on the front row for me, coz I may not be able to see Mrs. Asencion’s illustration of the stages of mitosis. We’re sorry for often requesting you to do stuff for us, but we assure you that we have done everything we could before asking you to do them for us. It’s just that usually, our everything isn’t enough.
3. Since we know we can do nothing about our height, we have already learned to live with it and be confident about it. However, our acceptance and confidence do not give you the perpetual freedom to continuously make insensitive jokes about it.
I personally have found the humor in my height. I usually joke about it when I speak publicly or do hosting or sing in front of an audience. It usually catches people’s attention and makes them better relate with me as a speaker or a performer. Even the very name of this blog is an allusion to my height, which shows how I have already embraced it and become confident about it. However, this confidence wanes a little when people over-emphasize what I know I lack. A joke or two is enough, but a little bit more than that I already consider rude. Especially if we are not that close. Or in situations where we are not supposed to crack jokes. Get it? 😀
4. Discovering that we got rejected because of our height is like a bullet to the head.
Yup, it’s like killing us. If a guy is turned down by a girl because of his crooked teeth, he can immediately go to the dentist, have his teeth fixed, and he’s ready for the world again. If a girl does not make it to a talent screening because she’s too thin, she can change her eating habits or get a weight-gain plan and embark on a new journey. But when you tell a person they got rejected because of their height, what is there left for them to do? I know a guy who thinks he will never get a girlfriend or a wife because he’s too short. I’m guessing he has had a fair share of rejection pinpointing to his height as the main reason. So yes, if the reason for our rejection is our height, you can keep it to yourself. Thank you.
5. Heels and platforms are not just a fashion statement for us – it’s often a necessity.
When I was in high school, my footwear consisted of rubber shoes and Birkenstocks. In college, I wore sneakers and uber flat slippers. Heels were reserved for special days and occasions. I did not use to wear elevated shoes until I worked in an office. No, we weren’t required to wear high heels there, but I had to, because at my first job, I was assigned a task to speak in front of a hundred or more people, and I had to be literally seen. I also had to evade the jokes I have mentioned above coming my way. Standing tall had always seemed like a necessity, so I needed to make sure I stood tall all the time (or get the feeling that I was standing tall, at least). I didn’t like high heels; they’re not comfortable, but I had to get used to them; they somehow contribute to my confidence (by just about 15% :D). And so I got used to them until I learned to love them. Now, I think even tall women could use some high heels; they’re gorgeous! 🙂 In our present time, even men have the choice to wear elevated shoes to give them extra height, as shoe manufacturers have come up with men’s shoes with hidden platforms. This goes to show that even the male population is also greatly affected by this height issue. But maybe, just maybe, if the world stopped saying that height does matter, I would go back to wearing sneakers and reserving heels only for special days and occasions. That would be awesome. That would be good news for my feet as well. 😉