So it usually happens like this. I’m at some office party, lounge, or just hanging around a bunch of friends of which women just happen to be a part of the group. Then the inevitable happens. In the course of conversation, the subject of which traits we find most attractive in a partner comes up. From the guys, you hear the usual stuff - Nice face, nice body, and an amalgamation of different personality traits, all subjective. From the women, it’s a different story. A countdown usually ensues as they prepare to unanimously jump in a chorus line to start off with the same physical descriptor, “Tall!”. But it doesn’t stop there. A massive circle jerk then follows explaining why being tall is a must while simultaneously bashing anything not-so-tall to smithereens with a barrage of insults, one-liners and hearty chuckles. We get it. Height is a prerequisite and everything else about a man is secondary.
Even The Shortest Women Prefer Taller Men | Source: Similar Minds
As the giggles fade and the comediennes all of a sudden remember that I am in their company, one of two things happen – Either they get quiet out of embarrassment or they begin to slightly retract out of pity. “It’s nice that everyone likes different things ya know? I know a guy who’s 5’3 and cleans up!” can be heard with an insincere tone. Another woman will usually chime in with some version of “I dated a short guy once (though the man she’s with now is 6 foot 30). But then curiosity sets in when I appear unfazed by the previous insult parade and subsequent sympathy shower. The conversation which follows usually goes something like this:
Woman: You know we didn’t mean you when we were talking about short guys right?
Me: It’s cool. Everyone has preferences right? And I respect it. I have my own.
Woman: What do you like?
Me: I prefer women with lighter complexions. Caramel skinned and up
Get out your battle gear folks, because from here, things typically get really ugly, especially if the woman in question is of the darker persuasion (and in this episode one of the women happened to be a woman of color). “What do you mean caramel and up”? I then go on to say how I normally date Latinas or White women. What comes next is full out onslaught. “You’re such a prick. That’s not a preference! You’re racist and a have a fetish”. You know, something along those lines.
See Also: Why Men Should Lie About Their Height On Dating Profiles
So what’s the big deal? You mean to tell me I can’t have a preference? That’s what I like. Just every woman I’ve ever been attracted to since my first crush in grade school was on the lighter side. And why do they care about who I date when shorter guys aren’t on their radar anyway right? Since I happen to be a man of color myself, the retort usually follows this script:
Woman: Your mother isn't caramel skinned and up
According To Statistics, Most Men Prefer Their Women Lighter | Source: AYI
No my mother is actually lighter than caramel, and she doesn’t know this, but that is beside the point. What she is suggesting is that somehow if a man’s mother is a certain color, then he has to be attracted to that color by default. After all, it’s “natural”. Now I happen to know the woman personally so responded with:
Me: You're 5’4. Does that mean you have to date men who are 5’4?
Woman: No that’s different. That’s like comparing apples to oranges.
Me: You just said that my mother wasn’t caramel and up, so I have to be attracted to women with darker complexions.
Me: Your dad is a smidge taller than me. Does that mean you should be ashamed of yourself for not dating shorter guys even though your father is a short man?
Woman: Look, it’s “natural” for women to like taller guys. Men are supposed to be taller than women. We like taller guys because we like feeling protected, plus tall men have better genes, and I want the best for my kids
Me: Good genes huh….
Woman: Taller men are healthier, don’t get bullied, are more attractive, get paid more, are more successful and live better lives. Studies prove it. I want the best for my future kids.
So much for not adhering to gender roles huh? Now to a certain degree, she’s right! Tall men do indeed have it better than our shorter brethren, and studies “prove” this. One study cited in a May 2015 article in the online magazine The Atlantic said that a jump from the 25th to 75th percentile (5’6-5’11) for height is associated with an 9 to 15 percent increase in salary, which translates to roughly $800 per inch. That’s a lot! Another study mentioned in a December 2013 New York Post article stated that men under 5’9 in NYC have an online dating response rate of just 1.2% on the island of Manhattan, the center of New York City. Startling and disappointing to say the least if you are a short guy.
But these attitudes toward and statistics about shorter men wouldn’t have anything to do with how society portrays and treats them would it? I mean, in the movies, directors go out of their way to make men look taller if they’re shorter than their female counterparts. Short men are the butt of jokes on television and some parents will spend entire paychecks on growth hormones to ensure their kids end up nowhere south of tall. Never mind that actual scientific studies show short guys live longer lives, have lower incidences of cancer and that there are there entire societies that do not prize height in men. Wouldn’t that signify “better” genes? Sounds more like nurture than nature to me.
Short Guys Actually Live Longer | Image Source: Newsy
Now if I let similar studies and societal attitudes towards skin color drive my preferences, I’d be crucified wherever I expressed them. There is no shortage of studies which show that darker skin women are considered unattractive, unfeminine and have a higher susceptibility to chronic health issues compared to their non-black counterparts. Wouldn’t that constitute “bad genes?”. Now of course I don’t actually believe that. I actually have dated a few darker skin women, and plenty of my friends only date darker skinned women. However the women I dated who were darker did possess certain physical traits that peaked my interest. And this is okay. Women do this all of time. Here’s an example from later on in that conversation:
Woman: It’s not like shorter guys have it that bad. Lots of women like shorter guys. Look at Tom Cruise and Bruno Mars. They get all of the ladies. Even I’d jump them if I had the chance.
Me: Ah, I see.
Bruno Mars Is 5'4 | Source: Buzzfeed
Never mind that they’re rich, have talent and are extremely successful. Tom Cruise was considered by many extremely attractive in his prime. Bruno Mars is one of the most successful entertainers of this generation. While she might actually find these guys attractive, do they really "count"? These are what we call token short guys. They have “Redeeming qualities” which distract you from their size. Without them, they’d be invisible. Now what if I incorporated this same method of thinking by sharing my crushes who happen to fall outside of my preference? Continuing with the same conversation:
Me: I have dated and do find a few darker skinned women attractive. Stacey Dash, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Reagan Gomez-Preston are some of my celebrity crushes.
Woman: You are so sad. Those women have European features. They don’t count.
Me: But they are darker than my preference. How is that any different than you finding shorter guys attractive only if they are successful or if they have some talent.
Woman: I never said I'd never date a short guy, he’d just have to be better than a taller guy in every way.
Now the women I mentioned I did actually find attractive. Sure they may have “European Features” as she mentioned, but just as that made them more attractive to me, money, talent and success made those short guys more attractive to her. If cultural brainwashing is at play here, then it’s happening on both sides of the aisle. The difference is that since skin color preferences are taboo due to the history of racism in this country versus heightism being ubiquitous, accepted and even encouraged, height preferences will get the nod while skin color preferences won’t. In either case, we both like what we like and scrutiny will do nothing to change that.
See Also: Beware Of The Reformed Heightist Woman
So then why do men like me get the tough cross examinations? The partial answer is sexism. Since in this case skin color preferences negatively affect women and society is more sympathetic to women’s issues, society will seek to solace them. On the other hand, Heightism negatively affects men, and who cares about men? Not even other men. Unless we’re talking about your son or a close relative any complaints will fall on deaf ears.
Profile Of Woman Who Refuses To Date Her Own Race | Source: Plenty Of Fish
And speaking of women, what about women who have race and skin color preferences? Do they receive the same scrutiny? On dating sites like OK Cupid and Plenty Of Fish, there are a myriad of profiles where women confidently proclaim which races and skin tones they won’t date. Continuing with the conversation mentioned above, I probed one of the women in my hang out group who I know has a strong preference for Caucasian men. She happens to be Asian and offered her two cents as to why I was “brainwashed” for liking what I like:
Me: The guy you’re dating right now, what is he? What is his background?
Woman: White. Italian and Polish
Me: And your last two boyfriends?
Woman: White. What’s your point?
Me: So then you too have a fetish don’t you?
Woman: No, it’s different. I picked them because I found them attractive and liked their personalities. They just happened to be white. You purposefully just go after lighter skinned women.
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