There’s a reason ‘tall, dark and handsome’ became the cliche.
That’s because tall men are virile, broad shouldered and capable of hunting a woolly mammoth with a greater degree of accuracy, efficiency and success than, say, Danny de Vito. Or at least that’s how things used to be. Women, it turns out, are still searching for that hint of the ‘provider’. That means a taller man.
It’s an evolutionary hang-up. Of course a tall man today might better apply his genetic gifts to reaching high into the pantry to retrieve a seldom-used can of kidney beans than actual hunting, but there is something irresistibly attractive about it nonetheless.
Or at least, so says science.
Here’s what we know.
Tall men are more likely to get laid (and thus have children).
Men are more attracted to shorter than average women.
A survey of the top 500 CEOs in America a few years ago found they were, on average, three inches (7.6cm) taller than the average American man. Almost a third of them were taller than just three per cent of all Americans.
As a man, being tall is as desirable as having nice pants. Or dress shoes. Or the other accoutrements of success.
This phenomenon is not new. Well, it couldn’t be, because it dates back to the dawn of humanity. But it’s been spoken about before. In 1995, the Economist wrote a pithy summary of the division between those who are towering and those who wish to be:
“Height discrimination begins from the moment male human beings become vertical. Give 100 mothers photographs of two 19-month-old boys who resemble each other closely, except that one is made to look taller than the other. Then ask the mothers which boy is more competent and able. The mothers consistently pick the “taller” one. As boys grow, the importance of height is drummed into them incessantly. “My, how tall you are!” the relatives squeal with approval. Or, with scorn, “Don’t you want to grow up big and strong?”
Height hierarchies are established early, and persist for a long time. Tall boys are deferred to and seen as mature, short ones ridiculed and seen as childlike. Tall men are seen as natural “leaders”; short ones are called “pushy”. “If a short man is normally assertive, then he’s seen as having Napoleonic tendencies,” says David Weeks, a clinical psychologist at Royal Edinburgh Hospital. “If he is introverted and mildly submissive, then he’s seen as a wimp.”
And though the ‘Napoleon Complex’ may have originated from a misnomer (Napoleon was actually quite average in height for his time, but surrounded by very tall soldiers) we still easily assume that short men are ‘compensating for something’ if they are driving an overly nice car or living in a mansion with more rooms than America has states.
It’s almost like they know they have to work harder at being eligible, right? Why are some men ‘looked up to’ and others not? Height. Literally. That’s where the phrase came from.
So, are you in search of a man with some, ahem, extra centimetres? Do you notice, or even care whether he’s short or tall? What about the guys out there … is height a benchmark for success?