Short People, You Now Have a Reason to Live

Mara Altman says it's time to stop celebrating people just for being tall, despite that song
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2023 10:30 AM CST
She Has Seen the Future, and the People Are Short
   (Getty / chameleonseye)

Mara Altman was a healthy child, but her parents nonetheless had her injected with growth hormone treatments in a bid to goose her height. The treatment didn't quite work: Today, Altman is 5-foot-even, though she couldn't be happier about it, she writes in a New York Times essay. In fact, her twin kindergartners are among the smallest in their class, "but instead of preparing to medicate them because of an antiquated societal bias, I'm going to let them be as they are: tiny. Because short is better, and it is the future." Sure, being tall once had an advantage, "ages ago," when survival depended on brute strength. And that bias lingers (she references the 1970s song lyric "Short people got no reason to live")—but Altman makes the case that it's long past time to ditch it.

Generally speaking, shorter people live longer, and they require fewer resources in a world where that's fast becoming a valuable trait, writes Altman. Plus, today's breadwinners typically sit at a desk, while being tall in modern warfare only makes you a bigger target. She doesn't get why parents brag about how their kids "eat them out of house and home" and likes that her kids instead eat like "gerbils" and grow more like cactuses than weeds. As a society, "we are still under the illusion, as a general principle, that more always adds value," writes Altman, but she predicts that will change. "As a short person, I've found the only thing I can't do is grab things off high shelves," she notes. "But that works out fine at the grocery store because tall people love to reach for things—it makes them feel like their excessive limbs still have purpose." Read the full essay. (More height stories.)

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