The Minor Perils of Being Vertically Challenged

July 9, 2012 1:15 pm

It’s not all bad.

More often than not, people of average height aren’t aware of the perils of being vertically challenged. For those of us who are under 5ft 3, a vast array of complications arise daily from things that would be easy for our taller counterparts. Just in case you need to know: I’m exactly five foot. I long for the day when houses are built for smaller people and everything is built within reach, when shelves are lowered in shops and when people stop questioning my age.

As a female, I am often faced with the dilemma of wearing heels on a night out. Not that it is something I should care about. It really isn’t. But when my taller friends all decide to wear the dreaded things, I feel as though I have no choice. It all starts as we’re about to go out and a gorgeous friend with a generous amount of height decides to put her heels on and everyone follows suit. One minute we’re singing along to music that we secretly detest when sober, the next they’re worrying about which heels to wear. Unfortunately for me, this gives me a sharp bout of anxiety – and not because I won’t look like everyone else. No, it’s more irrational than that. If a picture gets taken that night and happens to be uploaded to Facebook, amongst my leggy friends you will see a floating head. That’s right; they’ll all be smiling, elegant and poised, while my manically grinning head will be hovering in the darkness… even in heels.

On the nights out themselves I still come across a few problems. Once I went for an epic night out as a student. By epic, I mean I drank a horrible coke and vodka concoction on the bus (too much vodka, not enough coke) and I danced energetically albeit terribly to Beyoncé before I went out. I felt invincible. I knew my boyfriend was at the club I was going to, so I ran in excitedly and went on a quest to find him. Luckily I found him ordering drinks at the bar and in my wave of exhilaration I tapped him enthusiastically on the shoulder. He simply looked over his shoulder and didn’t notice me due to my height – or lack thereof. In that moment, I took to crying silently behind him. Like a full on loser. Eventually he noticed me.

I’ve been to a fair few gigs in my life. My only problem is that being small is a major disadvantage if you’re not at the front. I knew about this as a tween and would take long trips to Manchester almost every week …2 hours before the gig, to secure my place at the front of the crowd. I then proceeded to be a screaming, annoying mess of a fan girl –brilliant. I don’t think I’ve grown in height since then but these days I just put up with it and try to have a good time regardless. And hey, in the age of technological advancement I can always just watch the gig again on youtube!

Everyday life can be a bit of a struggle. Even operating in the kitchen is a little bit of a strain for me. Of course, I can reach the oven and the other cooking facilities but accessing the cooking utensils themselves is a problem. The starting point is the most difficult part; in my house, my house-mates decided to place all the vital cooking equipment on the highest shelf in the kitchen. I have asked in the past for them to be placed on a lower level, to their amusement, but unfortunately there isn’t any space. Sometimes a wonky stool is available nearby for me to access the pots and pans, but more often than not my eccentric housemate has seized this tool vital to my every day survival needs in one of his eccentric schemes. Begrudgingly I tend to ask my house-mates of average height to pass me the frying pan that I need for my latest bacon sandwich. It will be any frying pan though. I don’t have the liberty of choosing. Like a pathetic child.

(Ok, this may be unfair- Ed.)

In relation to this are my frequently embarrassing shopping experiences. Sometimes I see a bottle of wine which looks nice from a distance. But I can’t reach it because it’s on a high shelf. So I can either ask a nice stranger to pass it to me so that I can have a closer inspection or just leave it. Usually with a surprised chuckle from my taller counterpart I finally get a hold of that item. It gets awkward when you realise you don’t want it though because by the time you’ve finished looking at it, the kind stranger has walked off and it would be embarrassing to ask second person. I end up just inconspicuously leaving it somewhere else. This happens to me often: I commit acts of shop vandalism all the time. Please don’t tell the people who work at Sainsburys, H&M or Lidl…

I guess the most embarrassing thing about being vertically challenged is that people don’t tend to take you seriously when it comes to first impressions. Often, the first thing people talk to me about is my height. ‘Aww you’re so small… and so cute!’ they’ll say as they give me a condescending smile and a pat on the head. From then on, I am the amazingly small girl with a different view of the world (mainly due to my lower level eye-line.) Once when I visited home, a friend of a friend kept turning around and commenting on my height as though it was the first time… every time. ‘Woah, you’re so tiny,’ he would slur in amazement over and over again, smearing it in my face like a mucus drenched tissue. Of course, I feel as though I can’t comment on anything that requires intellect without feeling as though my view isn’t valid because I’m too ‘cute’ or ‘small.’ Being this way I’m obviously obscenely adorable, seizing the nearest animals and dressing them in tutus or taking lots of trips to Pets At Home to squeal over bunny rabbits. Of course, these activities can be fun from time to time… but that isn’t me wholly and completely. Give me a chance!

And of course, people don’t believe how old I am. I’m 20. I get ID’d – a lot. It’s frustrating so many rude people think I’m lying when I tell them my age in a conversation; I think I know how many birthday candles I blew out last time.

Oh well, at least I’ll always be a champion at hide and seek.

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