NYT Attacks ‘Heightism,’ Calls to Mate with Short People to Save Earth

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Being short is “better” for the planet and future, according to a recent New York Times piece that describes short people as “inherent conservationists” who save resources by consuming less and are “best suited for long-term survival.” The essay’s author, who boasts of her “tiny” children who “eat like gerbils” and thus help “save money and food,” also calls for mating with a short partner as “an effective way to help the planet” because it can decrease the “needs of subsequent generations.”

The Sunday essay, titled “There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be Short” and penned by author Mara Altman, begins by describing increased height as a “widely held fantasy of superiority that long ago should have been retired.”

“It made sense to fawn over height when it facilitated survival,” she writes. “Ages ago, when the necessity of defending oneself cropped up daily, if not hourly, tall people could more easily protect their families and bring home some woolly rhino flank.”

“Today, those who have the stamina to sit in an office chair all day bring home the plastic-wrapped meats,” she adds.

On an individual level, she notes, success “does not depend on beating up other people or animals.” 

“Even if it did, in an era of guns and drones, being tall now just makes you a bigger target,” she writes.

Criticizing the “echoes of these early human desires and biases [that] have stuck in our minds like a particularly catchy marketing jingle,” Altman shares that her own twins “are among the smallest in their kindergarten class.”

“[B]ut instead of preparing to medicate them because of an antiquated societal bias, I’m going to let them be as they are: tiny,” she writes. “Because short is better, and it is the future.”

While other parents “boast about how their kids ‘eat them out of house and home’ and grow out of shoes the very week a new pair is bought as if it’s a badge of honor,” Altman states that her children “eat like gerbils.” 

“[I]t’s fine, they are healthy — and because of their low percentiles we save money and food, and they fit into the same pair of shoes for a year,” she writes.

“Growing like a weed? No, thanks. I’ll take growing like a cactus,” she adds.

She also highlights the use of performance and exhibitions by artist Arne Hendriks “to encourage people to embrace fewer inches.” 

“He’s even restricted dairy from his sons’ diets and only allows them minimal sugar in an attempt to limit their growth, saving them from the ills of height,” she writes. 

Altman describes the future she envisions, expressing her desire for her grandchildren “to know the value of short.” 

“I want them to call themselves ‘short drinks of water’ with ‘legs for minutes,’” she writes. “While one yells, ‘I’m the shortest,’ I hope the other will bend his knees to gain an advantage, shouting, ‘No, I’m the shortest!’”

Claiming that short people “live longer” and “have fewer incidences of cancer,” Altman cites a theory that attributes the fact to possessing fewer cells — where there is “less likelihood that one goes wrong.”

“I’d take that over dunking a basketball any day,” she writes.

The author describes short people as “inherent conservationists,” something she deems “more crucial than ever in this world of eight billion,” as she cites engineer Thomas Samaras who harbors a philosophy “that considers small superior.” 

“[He] calculated that if we kept our proportions the same but were just 10 percent shorter in America alone, we would save 87 million tons of food per year (not to mention trillions of gallons of water, quadrillions of B.T.U.s of energy and millions of tons of trash),” she writes.

According to Altman, short individuals are better for the planet and the future.

“Short people don’t just save resources, but as resources become scarcer because of the earth’s growing population and global warming, they may also be best suited for long-term survival (and not just because more of us will be able to jam into spaceships when we are forced off this planet we wrecked),” she writes.

Pointing to a population of smaller early humans who survived due to their lack of a need for substantial amounts of food, Altman states “[t]hey could do everything bigger humans could.” 

“[They could] make tools, hunt…. [and] could also stay alive when times got tough,” she writes.

Choosing a short partner, she argues, is an effective way to help the planet.

“When you mate with shorter people, you’re potentially saving the planet by shrinking the needs of subsequent generations,” she writes, adding that “[l]owering the height minimum for prospective partners on your dating profile is a step toward a greener planet.”

The author also cites a researcher who has claimed that short men, “counter to prevailing stereotypes, may ‘compensate’ for being short by developing positive attributes,” such as behaving in “smart strategic” and possibly “prosocial” ways instead of “being aggressive and mean.”

She recalls how her 5-foot-6 husband seemed to confirm her belief when he told her “it would have been easier to be tall than to have had to put effort into developing his wit” which was necessary to attract her. 

Quoting a former endocrinologist of hers, Altman says the pursuit of height makes sense “in a capitalistic society,” due to the illusion that “more always adds value,” while another endocrinologist is cited saying “though heightism exists, concerned parents wrongly think height is the key to success and belonging.”

Altman posits that as a short person herself, she has found “the only thing I can’t do is grab things off high shelves.” 

“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,” she writes, adding that a “celebration of short stature” still occurs in some places on the globe.

In response, the essay faced a torrent of ridicule online.

“The STUPIDEST op-ed in the @nytopinion I have EVER READ,” wrote one Twitter user. 

“I’m a short way from canceling my subscription,” the user added.

“Here’s an NYT op-ed complaining, not unreasonably, against prejudice and discrimination against the short. But being an NYT op-ed, it doesn’t dare criticize the prime practitioners of heightism, women in the dating market,” wrote another user.

“Not even 24 hours into 2023 and the NYT has a barn burner of a bad take about how tall people are inherently bad,” another Twitter user wrote.

While the current piece lauds a future of smaller-sized individuals, the green movement has long hailed minimizing the population as a whole as a means to save Earth from the so-called climate crisis.

In a notable example, CNN founder Ted Turner called for a Chinese-style one-child policy in order to save the planet from climate change, while other prominent leftist figures, including Democratic socialist “Squad” member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, have suggested they may have fewer children to combat climate change.

In addition, the drive to protect the environment and conserve resources has led to plans by New York City to reduce the amount of red meat served in city-run schools, hospitals, and correctional facilities; as well as calls from Democrats for Californians to cut back on electricity usage.

Ironically, the glorification of less consumption when not due to decreased height is noticeably absent, as obesity continues to be celebrated and encouraged by many on the left and in the entertainment industry.

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein


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