Why Some Asians Are Short. Why I Don’t Mind Being Short

We’re all of different heights. Some of us are short. Some of us are tall. In general, many Asians are shorter than people from other cultures.

I’ve been short all my life. At school and university in Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, I was the shortest kid in my classes. Today, as a grown Asian adult at 148cm tall (4’10 ft), I see many people taller than me wherever I go.

Look up, be confident and dream. We are always taller than we think we are | Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy.

Look up, be confident and dream. We are always taller than we think we are | Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy.

Reasons Asians Are Short

There isn’t yet a conclusive study done that scientifically explains why many Asians are short compared to other races. So we can only guess why. Maybe some of us Asians are short because it runs in the family, because of genetics. Most of my Chinese-Malaysian relatives are not much taller than 175cm (5’8 ft) and only a handful of them tower vertically above this height.

Maybe some of us Asians are short because of what we tend to eat, or what we don’t always eat. A good number of us are lactose intolerant and find it hard to stomach dairy products – milk and cheese packed in calcium and vitamin D for bone growth. A number of us can’t stand eating dairy. My mum won’t touch cheese with a ten-foot pole and only drinks milk with coffee. Growing up, I detested milk and drank as little of it as possible.

Or perhaps our hectic lifestyles have something to do with our height. Many Asians are fond of sitting indoors and revising non-stop up until exams are over in school; maybe stress and lack of exercise stunted our vertical growth. I was one of these hardworking Asian kids in school. Or maybe we’re short because of a combination of these factors.

It’s common for Asian parents to gush over kids who are tall and have sizeable physiques. Maybe it’s a “face thing”, that raising children tall and physically strong is a sign of good parenting. For five years, my parents brought tins of Appeton Weight Gain home and mixed this powder into my milk every morning. At night, they mixed it with water in a cup and asked me to drink it. No matter how much of this “growing powder” short and skinny me consumed, I never had a noticeable growth spurt in my teens, vertically or horizontally.

Upsides and Downsides of Being Short

Being short can be a nuisance. Time and time again there’ll be someone at least half a head taller in front of me, blocking my view – the screen at the cinema, the path in front of me in the city. Some tall people can’t hear us very well. There have been times when I said something to someone much taller than me and they bent their heads down, asking me to repeat myself. And as I look young for my age, sometimes short me gets mistaken for a twelve year old and doesn’t get taken too seriously.

Being it isn’t all that bad. When we’re vertically challenged, chances are we’re small in stature. Short me has managed to squeeze to the front of standing-room-only concerts. Short me usually comes across as approachable, non-aggressive: random people have come up to me on the streets asking for directions.

Are We Really Short?

If we hang out with people who are around the same height as us, then we might not feel short or tall. It’s only when we compare ourselves to others that we feel short or tall.

For us short folk, whether or not we feel inferior looking up at someone taller than us depends on our confidence. There is more to us than how tall we are, and how we look. Our body language says a thousand more words about ourselves than our height. In fact, the way we carry ourselves can make us stand tall.

When we meet a new person, rarely do we think much about their height. If we do, we don’t dwell on it too long: when we meet a new person, we search for a face and eyes immediately. A few months ago, I was waiting to buy a CD from one of the busking bands in the city. The band had just finished playing a set and there was a gaggle of chatty teenage girls sandwiched between me and them, all the girls taller than me. Stuck at the back with no space to squeeze forwards. Gah.

I craned my neck forwards, bopping my head about. In between a couple of tall heads, I spied the tallest band member looking at me. I widened my eyes. He smiled. Without a word, he slowly bent down, slowly picked up a CD from the ground. Slowly walked around the group of girls, stood beside me. Handing me the CD, Mr Smiley Face smiled even wider. I must have looked like a short, eager fangirl. Mission accomplished.

There is no shame in being a “short” person. We are only as short as we choose to feel.

Do you consider yourself a short – or tall – person? Do you like your height?

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206 thoughts on “Why Some Asians Are Short. Why I Don’t Mind Being Short

  1. A wonderful attitude around self acceptance. I’m 5’6″ so in Canada quote average. Our grown kids tower over me. Not sure where the height comes from as Hubby is only a few inches taller than I.

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  2. I’m in a short side. I’m higher than you about 5 cm. Anyway, I rarely think of me as a short person. However, I started to think about that recently. When my brother bought electrical wire which its length was 1 meters. And I thought that it was very short. Then, I compared to my body height and it was like I came to understand that how short I am.

    The disadvantage of being short is that I can’t find anything to hold on when I take a bus/subway during rush hours when every hanging bars seem to be occupied by everyone.

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    • That is a very odd story, you comparing yourself to the length of the electrical wire. A lot of people in Asia tend to be around 150-160com tall, that seems to be the average height there.

      I can so relate to you can’t finding a pole to hold onto during rush hour in public transport. I can never comfortably hold onto the overheard handrails – my arms just sticks up straight and I’m wobbly on my feet. The poles are always very popular with people -_-

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  3. Another great post, Mabel! I am 168 cm which is quite average in Canada but there has been an occasion or two where I felt rather tall in Taiwan.

    My husband and all three of his brothers don’t fit the Asian norm. My husband is over 180 cm tall and his brothers a just a hair shorter. They all sport an athletic build which my husband claims has to do which his father’s love of martial arts that had a direct influence on all of them. And I always notice when my husband and his brothers walk with my mother-in-law as she is constantly looking up at all of them (she is about 150 cm).

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    • “just a hair shorter”. I love that phrase, glad you used it. I wonder if your mother-in-law gets a sore neck from looking up at your husband and his brothers all the time. I don’t, though, when I’m hanging with tall friends. It would be rude not to look up – that might show you aren’t interested in conversation.

      Good point. Maybe exercise and lifestyle does have an impact on our physiques. The average height in Asian countries is around 155-160cm thereabouts, so I’m not surprised you feel tall at times in Taiwan. In fact, I heard that tall Westerners get stared at quite a bit in Asian cities mainly because of their height (and other cultural factors too).

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      • When I read your reply, I just thought about the time my husband wanted to buy a more professional racing bike as he participates in a lot of cycling events. He had to wait over a month to get it, even though the brand is Giant and it is manufactured here. The reason for the wait – because he needed a large frame and most stores had only the small and medium fames in stock and it was a newest model (so there was a demand for the large frames abroad). Crazy, right? Another reason: He wanted to more flashy, stand out color while most Taiwanese opted for the more neutral color.

        Anyway, getting to your question. I don’t think she minds at all. She loves her sons and being surrounded by them all made her day.

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        • Buying a bike. That all depends on height and size, so true. No wonder my parents insisted on dragging me to the bicycle shop when I was a kid to get me a bike – they wanted me to try it and make sure my feet touched the pedals. I hope your husband made a good choice and still uses that bicycle today 🙂

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  4. It really depends on where I am. In HK I’m average. Some call me tall. In North America I’m a shorty. I’m happy with my height and accept it. Not much I can do about it anyway 🙂
    I like how you remind people that it’s mostly in our heads – our perception of how short we feel.
    Napoleon never let it stop him from doing anything!

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    • Oh yes. When we feel literally tall or short depends on where we are. Glad you are confident with the way you are. There are so many others things to worry about, and to enjoy around us. Napolean is certainly a pint-sized achiever, what a classic example and excellent that you brought him up.

      Our height, perception of how tall or short we are, is “mostly in our heads”. You said it, Pixie. Well done 🙂 At the end of the day, if our personality shines through, it will shine through. It’s interesting that you use the word “shorty”. Some short do people find it offensive. I don’t, maybe it’s because I’m comfortable with my height.

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      • Napoleon aside I also have a friend who is very short (for a guy), but he’s one of the most confident and interesting people I know. We just have to be comfortable and yes, let our personalities shine through like you say.

        I’ve definitely been called ‘shorty’ at points in my life. I don’t find it offensive but it could be because I don’t have an issue with it. It’s also a gender thing – in Asian cultures it’s ok to be shorter for girls. It won’t hinder them too much from finding love. For guys, I can’t say the same. Women are still picky when it comes to height, probably more so than other factors when choosing a boyfriend!

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        • Your guy friend who is short sounds like the kind who has a lot of friends. What he “lacks” in height, he makes up for it by being comfortable with himself. I’m guessing he doesn’t have a problem with the ladies.

          But you’re right. In Asian cultures there isn’t anything against short girls. But if you’re a tall Asian girl, you might comes across as domineering – Asian girls are meant to “look up” to Asian guys in the family. What’s more, Asians guys are meant to watch over or ‘take care’ of Asian girls.

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          • Spot on Mabel. He is a man with many friends, is comfortable in his own skin and does not have trouble in the realm of love. He makes up for physicality in humour, intelligence, and a genuine sense of self worth. I love speaking to him and learning from him. He’s very transparent.

            I don’t disagree with the stereotypes. There is definitely a level of chivalry that is still very prevalent in HK, and Asia generally. Personally I don’t mind it – it’s not a bad thing to be given a preference of seats, guys holding doors, and my boyfriend or guy friends occasionally paying for my meals/drinks for instance. But the tide is also shifting – women make as much as guys if not more nowadays, and have much more financial freedom and many more career development opportunities than before. It’s not uncommon to see a woman “wear the pants” in a relationship. Decades from now, if HK continues to develop at the same level, I wouldn’t be surprised to see many more women in leadership and more equality of the sexes. Even if that implies diminishing the spirit of chivalry … in the name of equality.

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  5. Being short is only a nuisance when you don’t have the confidence to act taller, basically what I described in one of your other articles 🙂
    It might sound weird but in my sport swimming I was often the shortest guy around, sometimes even a head shorter than the rest with my 185cm. I never really cared about it though sometimes it got frustrated to lose the race by a 1/100 of a second because the other guy had a longer reach :p
    My dad always made fun of me why I stayed so short as I am the shortest male in the family (brother and dad over 191cm) but hey, I have hopes for my son to spit on my head one day ….
    But really, some people appear to me at first that they are average size because they act taller/ with much confidence and know how to move to look taller . Only when my wife asked me later about the other persons size I start to realize that they were for example just under 150 or sometimes one friend under 140cm. my wife thinks this is because I am too dumb to realize anything till it is pointed out to me 🙂

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    • I was always under the impression that you were a tall person, Crazy. Mainly because you are athletic (swimming) and you looked tall in the snake photo (photo of you with a snake wrapped around your shoulders) on your blog. Very sorry that your height lost you a medal in a swimming race…and that you didn’t have superhero muscles to inch you over the finish line first 😛

      Feed Nathan with lots of milk and cheese and perhaps one day he will shoot up vertically high over you. You never know. Some people “know how to move to look taller”. That is a great way to put it. I feel like I have to be this way at job interviews at Australia – I’m always looking up at my interviewers even when I’m sitting down chatting about the job. Your wife sounds like someone who notices people’s height wherever she goes. A very sharp woman 😀

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      • I have learned in the past years to appear more confident than I actually am. Basic walking and sitting with a straight back but at the same time trying to appear relaxed that it seems that everything is in your control. But for myself this often fails iin crucial moments such as in job interviews, suddenly I feel very tiny and very very stupid when I can’t answer to questions well enough. This will hopefully change with more experiences in such stressful situations( please sooner than later:p)

        My wife seems to be always the more observant when it comes to people and I seem to observe all the useless things such as the surroundings 🙂

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        • I agree with you there. No matter how tall you are, in job interviews the interviewers use words and their questions will cut you down in height. So you have every right to say that you feel very tiny and stupid. Poor you, though. Keeping eye contact with the people you speak too often helps us feel tall no matter how short we may be. The longer you stare, the more assertive and sure of yourself you seem. The power always lies in who can hold the gaze the longer. For short people, this may be harder since they have to crane their neck upwards for a while…

          It seems Asians and Westerners tend to notice different things. It appears Asians (at least those who grew up in Asia) tend to notice more practical things and Westerners stories within things and surroundings 🙂

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  6. Mabel, another gem of a post 🙂

    I really adore the way you pick up topics like these, which many a people can easily relate to 🙂

    I am 164cm and which is a tad below average height compared to people around me.

    I think I never had this feel when I was in school as my confidence level was too high as I excelled in academics and sports.

    But there was a period in my life before my marriage, my confidence was at it’s lowest, one factor was this concern of being a bit short.

    Yea, one very important thing I learned after my marriage and during our travels across India and abroad is that, as you said, “Our body language says a thousand more words about ourselves than our height.”

    If you are confident as a person and ready to greet this world with a smile, you are welcome anywhere and you can face anything 🙂

    I need to do quite a bit of catching up to do here, as I missed many a posts 🙂

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    • You’re definitely a tall person, Sreejith. A confident man who has found his lady – I am sure these days you feel taller than a lot of others around you. I’m not too sure how tall are the people in Kerala. Many Indians I’ve met are not that much taller than me, even the guys. So maybe it’s a heritage thing that determines our height. So true: if we are confident, we will feel tall and we “can face anything”. I like that.

      Thank you Sreejith for stopping by and for the nice words. No pressure to catch up here, you are always welcomed no matter when you choose to drop by 🙂 To be honest, I don’t know where I get my topics from. A lot of the time, I let…the world and creativity speak to me 🙂 No one ever throws topics at me to write, I wish they would!

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  7. lucky me, i was born in a tall family, i’m 183 cm or 6 feet 1 inch,
    you should be glad as a petite girl, you should try my body to sit and trying to fit in a public bus or in economy class flight, lol
    my senior maxillofacial surgery professor is a very petite woman; about 135 cm max i guess
    but guess what, she can perform an wisdom tooth surgery once no other tall and bigger dentist can’t, and it’s almost all the time, that’s why many general practice dentist refers patients to her clinic

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    • You are tall, Dedy! I always thought you were much shorter! If we ever go grocery shopping together that’s great – you can get the things off the top shelf for me 😉

      I am very glad to be petite. Love it, can fit into a lot of spaces, even suitcases and carry-on plane luggage. Maybe the seats in the buses in Indonesia are made small. When I was visiting Jakarta, I actually saw a lot of Indonesians (especially the girls that you will find hot) shorter than me…even some of the clothes there don’t fit small and short me very well.

      Your senior professor dentist is short at that height. She must be a famous person over there for what she does!

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  8. What an interesting post Mabel. People have all kinds of odd feelings & prejudices about height, don’t they? I’m around 170cm which I never thought of as really all that tall, but recently I’ve been noticing I’m taller than most of the other women I know. Taller women sometimes feel a bit less feminine than short – petite – women, because men seem to generally prefer being taller than their girlfriends. Silly really. I grew up surrounded by tall brothers and being around taller people gives me a kind of feeling of security. Like I’m safe in a forest of people. Although obviously that can be annoying when you’re trying to see a band! Glad you found your way around that one.

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    • “prejudices about height”. You said it well, Maamej, I couldn’t have said it better. This is exactly what the comments section is for 😉 The taller you are as a woman, the more you may “look down” at men. Yes, it is silly since we live in 2014. Also, the shorter you are as a woman, the more “easy” some guys think you are.

      As a kid, I was always asked to sit in front of the class since I was short (in Malaysia and Singapore we had assigned seating positions in class). I don’t know if this is still the case in schools these days. There were times I did have the chance to sit at the back of the class and followed the lessons just fine.

      I’m always early for a concert. Early bird catches the worm, and I want to get in front to see the live music right before my eyes.

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  9. I am 160cm – I was considered the one of the tall girls on my high school softball club so the coach placed me on the first base..when I came to the Netherlands I felt like landing on a giant land – Dutch people are very tall – in average they are round 180 cm 😀 But like you said it really depends on us how we view this. Yeah, high heels helps a lot 😀 No, sincerely I don’t have any problems with my heights. Friendliness and good-knowledgeable discussion are more important for me at the first time meeting with new people..

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    • 160cm and you were considered tall? That was around the average height of my Asian friends in Singapore and Malaysia. When I visited Jakarta some years back, I noticed there were a lot of girls shorter than me by half a head. So come to think it, maybe that’s why you felt tall 😀

      Heels do help us short women. But I don’t like wearing them, so have to put up with my height all the more, which I don’t mind. No matter how short you are, if you can make the new person you’re talking with laugh, then chances are there are many good conversations to come 🙂

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      • 😀 trust me, I never thought I was tall in Indonesia but somehow my softball club players back then even shorter than me 😀 True what you said, good conversation matters no matter how short you are! 🙂

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        • I think when we’re kids we don’t care too much about our height – we know we are in a growing phase and have hopes of getting a little taller year by year when we were in school 😀

          Just be ourselves and rarely anyone will notice our height 🙂

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  10. Mabel, I found your discussion about dairy products interesting. As I understand it, most Asians who have not been exposed to the Western diets do not do dairy at all. And why should they? There were no cattle in ancient China to domesticate and so they never developed that particular affinity. Cattle were domesticated in the Indus valley and spread west into Europe. Chinese domesticated ducks and swine but no cattle. They did domesticate soy and that became a major staple. Without milk (which is great for baby cows but not so good for humans) they were pretty much able to avoid the diseases that came with livestock such as smallpox. Without dairy Chinese also have much lower breast and prostate cancer rates than their dairy guzzling counterparts in the West. In China, for example breast cancer is still relatively rare and only one in about 10,000 die from it. In the West that number is about one in 12. Similar rates for prostate cancer and studies have shown a direct correlation between dairy products and breast and prostate cancer. So, maybe it’s a good thing to be short!

    I find myself shrinking as I get older. I used to be 6 feet but now I barely pass 5’10. I need to figure out how to get stretched out!

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    • That’s very informative, Kongo. The monkey sure knows his history and science too. And it’s very much believable, can’t see why this theory can’t be true. Too much of everything isn’t good for us. Westerners seem to put a lot of dairy their dishes, dishes ranging from pasta to soup, dishes a lot of them eat from a young age. My parents go out of their way to avoid dairy – even in their coffee. Rarely do they drink cappuccinos or lattes; they usually drink coffee mixed with water, like a long black minus the cream and milk. Most of their life my parents lived in Malaysia and dairy was not a hit in their culture – and today in Australia, as you mentioned, don’t see the need to go all dairy on their diet.

      Oh dear, Kongo. You’re getting smaller. Maybe you might want to try stretching each morning as you get out of bed. You need long arms to swing from tree to tree.

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  11. next to you I’m like a giant, even thought I’m 5/6 cm shorter than average Polish adult woman (162/3 when average is 168cm). But as my friend said ‘small people can do the same things as the tall ones, but they also can be hand puppets, which tall people cannot do’ so let’s just think of it this way 🙂

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    • I don’t understand the hand puppet phrase but hahaha! Small people can of course do the same things as tall people. Being short, you can also have fun playing hide and seek, hiding in cupboards and squeezing into suitcases. And unlike tall people, short people can find their centre of gravity more easily. That is, find their balance more easily 🙂

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  12. This Eastern Asian totally gets where you are coming from ! I’m pretty short too! But except few people I’m surrounded by people usually of the same height as mine, so I am of an advantage but from 7 of my friends in university , one is too tall,Extra tall and we tease her about it by saying ‘Don’t stand with us, stand on a distance we look short in front of you’ ! 😀

    Though my dad and brothers are pretty tall, one of my brother being 6’1 or something but I don’t know which gene missed me! lol But I never really felt my short height as an disadvantage, Sure there are few kinks here and there but as you said, “the way we carry ourselves can make us stand tall.” So that’s an awesome bottom line to believe in 🙂

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    • Hahaha! You guys are funny. Teasing your tall friend about how tall she is. But all in good humour, I’m sure it gets all of you talking and make your days a little brighter 😀 Sometimes my friends tease me for being short too. They will say things like, “I can’t see you! Where are you?” when I am standing right in front of them. It’s all good fun.

      Maybe your brother drank a lot of milk when he was growing up and he shot up very tall in his teenage years! Or maybe he was the kind that jumped a lot while playing basketball and got taller that way 😀 I also think that if we don’t think too much about our height, we will be more confident and will come to accept how tall or short we are at some point. There’s so much more to life than obsessing over wanting to be taller.

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      • It absolutely does brighten our day, especially when you are making fun of your own friend! lol
        Yeah that’s true he did use to drink a lot of milk but also he used to eat everything, like he had a pretty healthy diet while I’m very picky about what I eat 😛

        You are so right, There are much more important things to life than obsessing over such minor things 😉

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        • Hehe. If we’re good friends, then none of us will get insulted if we call each other “shorty” or “bean pole” 😀 I too am very picky about what I eat, and that was also the case when I was a kid. So maybe our eating preferences may have something to do with us being short or tall…

          Love and the way we treat others is always more important than our height and the way we look 🙂

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  13. I’m happy with my height. I’m 5’4″ tall, an average height in the Philippines. I never had a problem with my height, just my shoe size which is 6.5, the proportion is small for my frame 😀

    My daughter is the smallest in her class. The majority in the group are Canadians. When she was younger, her paediatrician in Asia tracked her growth and height for years. Her height is above average for the Asian category. Here, it was the total opposite. As parents, we do not want her to feel insecure, shy or embarrassed about her height. There are activities that will help boost her self-confidence. We enrolled her in some programs like swimming, ballet, ice skating, etc. Plus we give her the love and attention that she needs.

    Height is just a physical attribute. It is a situation that we can not control, like our race, our genes. It won’t stop you to become the person you wanted to be. Look at Genghis Khan and Mahatma Gandhi, they were short but very inspiring people.

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    • I always thought you were quite short, Kai. Because you sound like one of my Asian friends, that’s why 😀 Shoe size. That is a totally different thing altogether. My shoe size is a 4-5 in Australia – bordering between kids and adult size. In Malaysia, my feet is about a size 35. Not really surprising for someone short. You know what, I might write about shoe size someday…thank you, Kai 🙂

      Your daughter sounds like an all rounder, doing a great variety of activities. I’m sure she has fun doing all of that – the more you get active, the more you learn. Height is certainly no barrier to doing any activity!

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    • Thanks, Denny. That was a very nice compliment, I will remember this one 🙂 The way we present ourselves will ultimately always be more memorable to others than our height.

      Thanks for stopping by again, I really appreciate it. By the way, I really like your gravatar photo. Pokemon ^^’

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  14. Another interesting post, Mabel.
    I was so happy when I was traveling in Japan with my Japanese friend for 6 weeks. Everyone was my size!
    In the US, there are many many people taller than I am. In a crowd I often have trouble seeing. In Japan I was just another one in the crowd. A nice feeling!
    (For the record, I’m a little taller than you, five foot two, now shrunk at least half an inch and heading lower. Age makes almost everyone shorter.)

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    • That must have been one sweet and special trip to Japan. Good to hear you saw eye-to-eye with the people there 😉 I have heard that crowds in some US cities can be very bad and if you get stuck in a “human jam” you will get pushed along with the crowd in the wrong direction – that you go where the crowd is heading. So if you’re short, it must be really scary, not seeing where you’re going!

      You’re the second person who has mentioned that with age, we get shorter (see Kongo’s/The Monkey’s comment above). I still have to wait a bit to find out for myself, but I take that you are telling the truth 🙂

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      • Since Kongo started out at 6 feet, he has more leeway than you and I do! 🙂
        But I see he is a grandfather monkey, and therefore in the appropriate age group where we begin to grow down, rather than up.
        Since he still travels so much, though, I conclude he is young enough for shrinkage to be minimal. You are so young there is no shrinkage factor at all!
        I, on the other hand, am so old that at some point I fear, like Alice in Through the Looking Glass, I may well shrink to the point of disappearing. 😉

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        • Monkeys are always cheeky. Grandfather monkey? I didn’t know grandfather monkey Kongo was that old…maybe he’s humble about getting smaller in size year by year…

          I’m fairly young…but not that young contrary to what many people think 😉 You sound very youthful, T2T. With such an energetic spirit, you’re always bound to stand tall.

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    • Ah, Sylvia. I never did notice in your photos of the two of you together that your hubby is actually shorter than you. No matter. The two of you look good together – and so happy together. That’s what counts, not height 🙂

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  15. I’m 5’1″. I have noticed within the next generation…provided they are healthy, are a bit taller. My brother is 5’10” or so. He appears to be taller, but in fact he’s probably average for North American males.

    It never bothered me to be short. What it does mean is the greater challenge of finding clothing that fits which is not too expensive or doesn’t require significant garment alterations.

    I do think a combination of diet (starting from childhood), regular physical activity has an impact on influencing genetic factors/predispositions. My father is 5’3″ …so very different from my brother.

    The bigger trend nowadays is not height….but kids who become significantly fat sooner in life while they are teens.

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    • Ah, Jean. You’re not too much taller than me. Oh yes, the challenge of finding clothing that fits just right on us. Almost every single pair of pants I’ve bought is too long for me – I always find myself rolling up the ankles so the pants legs won’t “sweep the floor”.

      Your brother is indeed taller than you by a lot. Could be because of diet. Maybe it’s the weather in the States too? Maybe good, cool weather entices us to head outside and exercise, so maybe Asians in America/Australia tend to be taller than those in East Asia. I don’t know, this is just wild speculation. Always fun to speculate.

      WIth so much variety of food (and fast food) around us these days, it’s no wonder more of us are quite chubby when we are young.

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  16. It’s definitely differences between races – I’m 30 cm taller than you, but around here I’m just average.
    Here in Scandinavia you’re not even allowed to talk about difference between the races because it’s not considered to be politically correct.
    Races doesn’t exist in the politically correct, twisted, mindset of the Scandinavians. So don’t get your hopes up and expect any scientific proofs regarding the lengths of different races from this part of the world, where political ideologies triumphs over knowledge.

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    • That is interesting to hear that talk of height is hush-hush in Scandinavia, and the talk of race too. It does sound like a very different place to live, very different from Australia where a number of us are relatively open-minded towards politics. Maybe people in Scandinavia don’t talk openly about height and culture, but maybe they do think about it silently in their minds. Or they do so behind closed doors. Just guessing.

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  17. Wow. I could write so much about this subject. I wonder if I should? First of all, I had no idea you were so short! I think you are the same height as my mother. My father was tall, but maybe he was average for a Northern Chinese. He was 5’10. I’m only 5’4 (or 152cm) and considered short in the US, but in Thailand, I’m considered tall-ish.

    I remember when we were here when I was 16 and being able to look over people’s heads and thinking, “My goodness, I’m tall here!” I always wanted to be taller because I wanted to be a supermodel 😛

    As far as your theories on the heights of Asians, have you ever heard of Bergmann’s rule? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergmann%27s_rule It attempts to explain why different ethnic groups are built the way they are.

    When I have time, I think I’d like to write about this topic. Of course, I will have to say that you were my inspiration! By the by, I hated milk, too. I loved ice cream though. Who doesn’t like ice cream? xxoo

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    • Yes, yes, yes! You really should write your own blog post about being short! There’s a blog idea for you. I would love to read your take on it. Me not short? That’s the first time I’ve heard of that. I’ve always pictured you as tall, Lani. Like, giant tall. Never would have guessed you’re just a bit taller than me. Supermodel Lani? Go for it while you still have the energy to chase this dream 😀 And being tall-ish in CR helps…do it before you shrink (that’s what the other commentors have said. We shrink as we age).

      Thanks for the link to Bergmann’s rule. Very interesting, vaguely heard about it in the past. So glad you brought it up. Amy in the comments just below you mentioned something close to what the theory talks about. Hesse’s rule is mentioned in this Wiki page – this I’ve heard of, that those in colder climates have larger hearts. Which would mean that they might have larger bodies.

      I could never say no to ice-cream when I was a kid. Never!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. This is another interesting topic. My two brothers are as tall as 6 feet, I’m the shortest one in the family, 5’3 🙂 I heard that the different heights among races have something to do with the weather… Thus, genetically, the height allows our body to reserve heat in the very cold area or release heat and adapt to the humidity weather. 🙂

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    • I’ve always thought you were a bit taller than 5’3, Amy. Now I know better. Whether we’re short or tall has to do with the weather and our bodies reserving heat? Interesting. I always thought that in tropical parts of Asia, Asians aren’t keen on exercising too much as it’s hot – and so don’t grow as tall as Westerners. I don’t think this is the same thing as what you proposed. Wait, maybe it is… 🙂

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      • Like you, most people think I’m taller than 5’3, even in person. The tall and short theory was a documentary film that I saw on PBS (Don’t think I can live without this channel). The short people in the cold area that they referred to was Eskimo, and the hot and hum area might be the South Asian…

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        • That is a very interesting documentary you watched. And I might google your last thought. I always thought Eskimoes were short (they always seem to fit well in “short” igloos). Then again, I’ve never paid too much attention :/

          I don’t know if this is relevant, but these days when the weather is hot in Melbourne, I feel my body gets hot quickly. Maybe it’s something to do with being short.

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          • Really?!! I was afraid I might confuse you. The program was broadcasted some years ago (can’t remember the title), which reported on the human development and migration from Africa. The conclusion was that the body developments was for the survivability (not for the look 😀 ) Talk to you later, I go for a morning walk 🙂

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            • No, no. You didn’t confuse me, Amy. If you did, I’d just ask questions and I’m sure you’ll be happy to explain 🙂 Pretty sure you are right. The colder the place we live in, the taller we may grow up to be. Maybe we grow taller because we want to be closer to the sun in the sky to get some warmth 😀

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  19. I’m on the tall end of “petite” and if someone tells me I’m short I just say I’m “right-sized”. I find it easy to quickly weasel my way through crowds, and I fold up easily for yoga, but with theater seating I’m definitely at a disadvantage and need a pillow (wouldn’t you know, the tallest person with the biggest hair always comes to sit in front of me). I found this post, and all the comments, fascinating. Nice job on this topic, Mabel. — Sandy

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    • Weaseling your way through hordes of people to get to the front. Yes, that’s exactly how us petite people do it 😉 Oh yes. Tallest person with the biggest hair sitting in front of you in the cinema. During these instances I always get up and move a few rows back – if there are empty seats there.

      I’m certainly not “right-sized” short like you. Most of the time when I sit on a chair, my feet don’t touch the ground. I’ve worked at some offices where they have these deep, enormous chairs that make my feet stretch out straight, if you catch my drift.

      Thanks, Sandy. Always nice chatting with you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Funny, your post made me think (which is a good thing!)… and I remembered that at 9 or 10 years old I was the tallest kid in my class at school, as was my good buddy who was a grade or so behind. OK, there were not that many of us, but still, it seemed like a ‘big’ thing. Only a few years later we were both among the shortest. So in a way, now that I think about it, I can remember that perspective of being tall and powerful. Too bad that as adults, in the business world as well as the political arena, the tallest people get more respect and more promotions.

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        • That’s a funny story! You certainly lived the best of both worlds – tall and short – and I’m sure from this you have many stories to tell. Tall and powerful. That sounds like a very scary phrase! Short and powerful? I do think when short people speak up in the workplace, sometimes they are viewed as having attitude. It’s a cultural thing that is sad.

          I wonder if tall people tend to have louder voices. A lot of my friends who are short don’t exactly have booming voices.

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  20. “Growing up, I detested milk and drank as little of it as possible… For five years, my parents brought tins of Appeton Weight Gain home and mixed this powder into my milk every morning.”
    I think I know why you hate milk. 🙂

    I suspect genetics is a “big” part of the reason, and as long as you don’t let height stop you from enjoying life, then the height issue just becomes an occasional nuisance.

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    • Til this day, I don’t like drinking white milk though I do drink a glass every morning to get my calcium intake. However, I love drinking milkshakes and I do remember being fond of drinking cold strawberry milk from mini-milk packets when I was younger

      I guess in life we have to make the most of the cards we’ve been dealt with. I can always climb up trees and things to get a better view of things. That’s always fun 🙂

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  21. Haha, when I first saw the title of your post, I was wondering where you were going to take it. I really have no idea why Asians in general are so short, especially since there are enough tall ones to counter any argument you might make…Yao Ming, anybody? 😉

    I used to drink milk when I was younger… until my mom discovered that we kids were all lactose intolerant. I’m actually the “least intolerant” amongst my siblings, so I can handle reasonable amounts of dairy products. But I can’t remember the last time I drank a glass of milk.

    My sister is probably around your height (and she’s 24). I managed to somehow get some of the tall genes, so I’m the tallest in my family at a whopping 5′ 8.5″. Lots of people say I get the extra half inch from my hair, though. Haha.

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    • Finally, someone brought up Yao Ming. I was waiting for this. You never disappoint with your comments and thoughts, Chris 😉 Yao Ming could be one of a kind, or he could have a very different diet from us and that’s why he’s so tall.

      I suspect I’m lactose intolerant too as I feel full after each glass of milk (and after some bites of cheese, which I love). Compared to me and your sister, you’re a giant! I hope you get your calcium from other sources. I don’t know if Asians who are lactose intolerant grow out of it by comsuming more dairy. Not me.

      On a side note, each week when I settle on a topic to write about, I have no idea where I’m going to take it. Never.

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  22. hahaha as you, I am also short!! For a long time I didnt like being short, today I dont care, people tend to say the short girls are the bravest and the best 😀 Im happy to be short, as my hubby isnt so tall for a German, hahaha. I have to admit I suffered a bit to be noticed among tall people, but I dont mind anymore, Im happy to be who I am! Nice post, as always 😉

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    • I’ve always thought you weren’t giant-tall, Lola. Seems like I’m correct. I hope your family didn’t give you a hard time as their shortest member…and I hope you won games of hide and seek easily as a kid 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I am pretty short, too. Maybe shorter than you, but I deluded myself into thinking that I am 5 ft (I knew I was not) but when I was wearing my 3 inch heels, I was pretty close. That was then when I was single and much younger and was infatuated with 6 footers. 🙂 A girl could dream, couldn’t she?
    Now, i am more comfortable with my height. I wonder how life would have been different if I were a little taller, no? 🙂 But I am glad I am not or I will not be where I am now.

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    • I actually thought you were of medium height, Imelda. If not medium, then tall. I too wonder how life would have been for me if I was taller. Perhaps I’d get more attention from the guys. Perhaps I’d never win at hide-and-seek. You never know 🙂

      Glad you’re happy with your height. I’m sure you can find many advantageous to being short 🙂

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  24. I have always been tall. As a child I was the tallest or next to tallest kid in class. Since I am a girl that caused some problems. But, I was very athletic so my height was really an advantage.
    I stopped growing somewhere around 5’11″….I always wanted to be 6 foot but never quite made it! Something happens with age….I consistently measure at 5’10” these days. Am I starting to shrink?
    I think attitude is more important than height. We all experience good and bad, whether we are short or tall….the important thing is how we handle it all!! Not how tall we are when we handle it!!

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    • Sorry to hear that you didn’t reach the height of 6′ foot. Maybe if you tried stretching that would help…but like you, everyone’s been saying they shrink as they get older!

      It’s good to hear your height came in handy when you were playing sports at school. I hope your height – and long legs – got you across the finish line by a mile 🙂 I was quite the opposite in school: always lost out the sprinting races because my taller classmates covered distance so much faster with their long strides! I was a terrible basketball shooter, and being short didn’t help one bit 😀

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    • Thanks, Mamta. That is a very nice thing to say, thank you for the compliment. Every day life fascinates me, the little things in life amaze me. And that’s where I draw inspiration from to write. I hope you have an amazing week ahead, talk soon 🙂

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  25. Dairy doesn’t boast as much calcium as people think. =) Those who can’t do dairy are not at a disadvantage. Foods like chia seeds contain 5x the amount. I enjoy how you unpack the things we don’t really think about. And yes, our posture (literal and otherwise) and how we carry ourselves do weigh in a whole lot.

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    • You might be right, D. I have heard a rumour that food like cheese and milk have only the teeniest bit of calcium. That’s why we calcium supplements are spruiked in our faces…but really, whether they do help our bones is anyone’s guess.

      Ah, I think we think about the little things in life…just that sometimes other things in life get in the way. Thanks, D, for popping by. Love it when you do.

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  26. I’m 168 cm, pretty standard, I guess, but honestly, I’d love to be about your height…lol 🙂 then I could wear 10 cm heels and still would qualify for every man on earth lol 🙂
    on a more serious note, I just try to feel comfortable with what I have… 🙂

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    • 168cm, I’ll look like a midget next to you:D Frankly speaking, guys have to bend their necks down when looking at me…when done at the wrong angle, it can come across as stalker-rish!

      I’m sure you can find ways to love your height (I’m sure you do already!). Like, you can reach the top shelves at the supermarket 🙂

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  27. A really interesting post! I always have a bit of culture shock and reverse culture shock between Japan and Sweden. I’m a super shorty in Sweden (at about 163cm tall) but in Japan I’m tall (at least when compared to Japanese girls). So I guess I get the best (or worst??) of both worlds depending on where I am. I have to say, I like being tall at live showsーand since I mostly only go to them in Japan, I’m pretty much okay there. 😀

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    • Living the best of both worlds there sounds right! Being tall definitely is an advantage when you go to live general admission concerts – but maybe you might block a shorter person behind you! Maybe tall people feel intimidated to stand in front at concerts, I don’t know 🙂

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      • Hmm, I don’t think they do. 😛 I know some of my taller friends worry about it, while others argue “I paid for my ticket, so…” Definitely a mixed bag when it comes to opinions there!

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        • Very good comeback. “paid for my ticket” and so you’re definitely entitled to see the show, whether you’re short or tall. But having gone to a couple of general-admission concerts, I get the feeling people don’t really care too much if a tall person blocks their view. They just want to enjoy the sounds and atmosphere 🙂

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  28. At 5’1″ I am the shortest person in the family. Interestingly, they say over the last few generations people have gotten taller. I am shorter than my parents and all my grandparents, so I guess I am bucking that trend. I had to laugh about people asking you for directions because that happens to me all the time. I obviously am non-threatening and I guess I look like I know where I am going 🙂

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    • Somehow I always pictured you as not gigantically tall, so I was right. Bucking that trend of being taller? I guess you are the special one in the family, Amy.

      That is good to hear people come to you for directions. I am sure all us short people want to look like where we’re going. Don’t want any suspicious person taking advantage of us 🙂

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  29. I’m only 5’9″ and I am one of the tallest guys in my family. Most of the men in my family tend to be stocky or short.
    By the time I was in high school I was just as tall as my parents. Even though I am close to 6 feet tall though, I’ve always considered myself to be short though, because I feel short. When I was in high school I was regularly around people taller than me, and in college it’s even more common to find people taller than I am.

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    • Very interesting. Being short or tall seems to be a matter of perspective for many of us. Maybe you ate different things from your family, or maybe you led a healthier lifestyle in general. Or maybe you were the “special” one.

      I hope the taller people didn’t give you a hard time. From memory, a lot of the popular kids (boys and girs) in my high school were tall – the taller you are, the more attention you’ll get. This mentality still exists today, I believe, especially when it comes to the workforce.

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  30. Pingback: Don’t call Thais short. | Life, the Universe and Lani

  31. I’m only 5Ft 6′ tall Mabel, so I consider myself quite short. I would like to be a little taller and sometimes I buy shoes with a little extra height to them, so I can stand taller.

    However, I’ve often been asked by shorter people than myself, if I can help get something off the shelve in the Supermarket for them so, being what I consider to be quite short, doesn’t mean I can’t help other people. The only real issue I have with being quite short is my inside leg measurement because I have to have every single pair of trousers I buy, shortened!! 🙂

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    • Sounds like you’re about average height, Hugh. That is very clever of you, to buy thicker-soled shoes so you appear taller. I totally emphatise with you on your pants being too long for your legs! I have to fold mine up outside-in so they won’t sweep the floor! I’m just too cheap to be spending my money on getting them shortened, that’s very expensive here in Australia 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve seen some people cut the backs of their trousers at the bottom of the leg so they can wrap the extra material around their feet. Looks horrible and almost like they are wearing bellbottoms from the 1970’s. Maybe bellbottoms/flared trousers will come back into fashion one day and then I won’t be able to give comments like that 🙂

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        • Oh dear, bell bottoms. I’m sure some of us can pull that off…. I remember when I was a kid my parents took my pants to be shortened, and whey I tried them on, yes, they were flared. Not a good look 😀

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  32. Hi…. I have the same height with you, 148 cm tall. 😀 but it’s not a big problem for me, except when I have to sit in a bus and when I wanna sit back relax my back, then my feet can’t touch the floor 😀

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    • Awww, same height. We can be twinsies! 😀 My feet hardly touches the ground, and I have to use a footstool all the time to feel comfortable! I also find it hard to feel comfortable sitting on sofas – many of them are very deep and my legs stick out straight! 😀

      As Lani pointed out in a previous comment, research has shown Indonesians are the shortest Asians. Interesting.

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  33. I’m only 5’3 :and my mum is only 5ft ! 🙂 I don’t mind being short now, 🙂 – I’m new to this blogging thing but it would be amazing if you could take a look at mine and see what you think? Xxxxxxx

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  34. The Indonesian side of my family – they tend to be short – are actually very tall for Indonesian people, so I must have got the genes and I am not very tall or anything (I think I’m average – 168cm) but I am taller than most of my girlfriends in Spain… Great post you’ve written Mabel, it’s made me think of inconveniences I never thought of before. My only (very superficial stupid) inconvenience is that when I where high heels I’m way taller than the rest of my girlfriends, and I don’t like that, lol. My brother is VERY tall, and I an say he doesn’t enjoy it. Also, lots of problems in buying clothes and shoes…

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    • Thanks for the nice words. As the other commentors have shared, it seems Indonesians are the shortest among South East Asians. Nice to hear you are proud to be Indonesian 🙂 I visited the country twice and all the locals were very friendly.

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  35. I’m at a height that’s a tad below the Australian average, a result of Cantonese ancestry and an Australian upbringing. It’s probably the ideal height for catching public transport in Melbourne as I can be comfortable either sitting or standing. When I’m in Guangzhou, I feel quite tall. I’ve had a couple of bus rides there that gave me a fleeting taste of the discomfort that those taller than me face on a far more regular basis.

    As a kid, I always tended to be noticeably below average height in the class but this changed in my mid-teens. My brother though was always the shortest in his class but never abnormally so. My mother was obsessed about this and it annoyed me no end that this was the only thing she cared about from a health perspective even though we both have hereditary eye problems. So she took him to hospitals for check ups and fed him these Chinese wonder drugs (I hate Chinese wonder drugs) in an attempt to make him taller. She might think that this was all worthwhile because he is about 165cm now. I honestly doubt it helped in any way at all, as he would have had the same growth spurt that I did, and in the process, his easily diagnosed and treatable eye problems were ignored until it was far too late to do anything about it. Even had he been short, we do not live in a society where this is much of a problem.

    But in China, being short is very much a problem. Many employers are explicit in rejecting employees below a certain height. This happens not just with physical labour jobs where height may be of some use or small business whose owners don’t know better. Large businesses and even government departments engage in the same discrimination. So in such a situation, being short leads to large parts of the job market being closed to you irrespective of your ability and therefore a dramatically lower quality of life. This won’t be fixed by wonder drugs, which are part of the problem, but by a change in societal attitudes (backed by legal protections against discrimination) to say that being short is completely normal and discriminating against short people is not okay.

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    • I’m not too sure how being short equates to having a more pleasant public transportation experience in Melbourne. I’m thinking the taller you are, the more you’re able to push past the others and get into the train or tram. On the flipside, I suppose being tall you might find it hard to find your balance when standing on public transport. My short and small stature has always been an asset to me, helping me squeeze into that bit of empty space near the tram doors weekday evenings.

      Sorry to hear that your brother was forced to take those super drugs. I’m with you and don’t think they contributed to how tall he is today. At one point in my teens, my dad suggested I went for hormone injections (or hormone therapy or pills), and maybe that would bring about a growth spurt. I heard this is what many Chinese parents in China consider when they are worried that their kids will be “short” for the rest of their lives.

      It’s sad that employers in China discriminate against potential employees who are below the average height. I wonder if this does happen in Australia. I suppose it does for some front-line customer service roles where employers favour workers who look “mature” and not like a petite kid. Thanks for stopping by again, Sam. Always appreciate the support.

      Like

      • Well, being short isn’t great for public transport because it’s hard to find things to hold on to, plus you get the backpack in the face problem. Being of average height is great though since so many things (and not just on public transport) are designed in order to maximise the number of people who can access them and are thus perfectly suited to those of average height.

        I don’t doubt that there is some height-based discrimination in Australia. Like any other aspect of appearance, it would at least be a subconcious part of an employer’s decision making. But because it can’t be as blatant, the consequences are far less severe. Whereas an employer in China can impose an arbitary limit and reject all candidates below that limit without assessing anything else at all, candidates in Australia would at least have some opportunity to overcome the employer’s height bias.

        It’s always good to read your writings, Mabel, because you always make me think.

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        • I completely forgot about that. Now that I think about it, I can never reach the overhead rail bars of handles on the trams or trains comfortably. If I can’t hold on to the poles, I usually grab hold of a seat to keep myself steady.

          It’s sad to hear such discrimination against those who are below a certain height in China’s workforce. I suppose it’s partially to do with how many of the Chinese, and us in general, perceive people of a certain height – stereotypical thinking. That is, it’s partially the status quo’s fault.

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  36. Interesting again, Mabel. I’m exactly average length here in Sweden – 167cm. My son is much taller than me, but my daughter is 2 cm shorter. Otherwise youngsters tend to become taller than their parents. My mother is only 163cm and my lovely grandmother was about 150. I used to carry her up in the air just to frighten her a bit…in those days, when my grandmother was young, they didn’t get enough of nutritious food, so she and her siblings were all short.
    I think the problem – if there is one – lies in short men. Maybe this sounds stupid, but I know about some short men who really don’t feel good about it…and some short men who had to go to war and win fame and fortune… Some who were disastrously evil too. Power. There lies a feeling of power in being very tall and towering and a disappointment for some short men because they don’t have that power.

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    • It does seem that kids these days are taller than their parents. Not massively taller, but usually around an inch or two. Maybe it’s a trend, heredity, in your family, that each generation will be taller than the other…provided they make wise food choices 😉 Ah, you’re being cheeky there, Leya. Carrying her up in the air like that to scare her. I’m sure it was hilarious!

      So true. The taller we are, we might feel more domineering and powerful over others – that our tall and larger stature can crush any minion beneath us. It could be the way they were brought up and what they went through, though, as you suggested.

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  37. I honestly think a lot has to do with diet. Yes, genetics are part, but I think diet is a huge factor because I can literally SEE it all around me here in Korea. Here, the country has gone from total poverty to total wealth in the span of 60 years, and it’s obvious when you look at the generations. The grandmas are literally 4 feet tall. The 40-50 year olds are 5 feet and over. The 20-30 year olds are much taller still….and now the younger kids are tall and chubby, from eating too much “western” food. My hubby is 6’1″ and there are a lot of Koreans that are equal to his height or taller, but mostly they’re all in their late teens to late 20s… I don’t think it’s a coincidence…

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    • That is a good observation about Korea. I didn’t know that Koreans were progressively taller as the years go by. Perhaps it is due to the Western diet that some of us are taller, and perhaps wider horizontally as you mentioned 😉 I suppose lifestyle standards have improved as well (due to industrial developments), which means we are healthier and so might grow taller.

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      • Yah there’s a huge difference. The people in their 20-30s are a good 2-3 inches taller than those in their 40-50s. And South Koreans are a head taller than North Koreans, sadly, because of the lack of food and nutrition up there. 😦

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  38. Its mostly diet of course. Most asians are generally malnourished that’s why they’re shorter. See north korea vs south korea. The younger generations are significantly taller than their parents though.

    The northern Chinese are also taller than the southern Chinese too. See Beijing vs Hong Kong. Thus environmental factors(diet and lifestyle) are a huge part of it. Now that being said, height is not a good predictor of health because if you look at Okinawans and Sardinians, where the people are short they have long life expectancies.

    There in fact may be an optimal height for longevity. You see, taller people also need stronger organs to support a larger body frame but the heart has to work too hard to pump blood around the body.

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    • Definitely agree with you there diet probably has an impact on our height. I like those examples between countries there, gives us food for thought on this topic.

      But that is an excellent point – height isn’t a concrete indicator of how healthy we are. Health depends on a number of factors – diet, exercise, lifestyle, and as you mentioned, organs.

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  39. I’m 4’10 as well =D and I never really feel short, even though me friends are all more than5 inches taller than me xD
    In pictures though I really do appear tiny =\ and out of place…and it kills my confidence when I think of how I appear to people =\
    I’m 16 at the moment but I know I haven’t grown an inch since the past 3-4 years, I don’t really care but I feel like “others” do.

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    • You’re my height! And like you, in photos next to my friends I look tiny too. It doesn’t help that I’m slim built.

      Oh no, I hope you don’t feel too discouraged because of this. Some people will judge us based on our height, which is sad. But they are being tacky if that’s the case – there’s so much more to each person than height and size 🙂

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  40. Very good post, I really enjoyed reading it.
    I am 5.5 adult male shortest in my family, even shorter than my little brother XD
    I have been bothered a lot by my height in the past but everytime it happened I have convinced myself that height doesnt define you as a person for even 1%, for me striving for success or achieve something I want in life is much more important

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    • Thanks, Alan. “height doesnt define you as a person for even 1%” Very, very well said. Height is just a physical characteristic. It’s our personality and our ambitions that will get us to where we want to go in life. Sure, some tall people might look down on us short people, but that’s their problem and all we can do is take their words with a pinch of salt 😀

      Like

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