Tall, dark, and handsome? These three little words have permeated western culture through social conditioning, as seen in most movies, TV shows, romance novels, and fairy tales. But the tale of human height also originates within human evolution. From an early age, women are taught to prefer a taller man.
Even in modern times women are barraged with images of women being the shorter, smaller and more vulnerable sex and that only taller men are best suited to protect them, even if this isn't still necessarily true. Generally speaking, women may feel more protected next to a tall man, since they may have a combat advantage of longer reach.
To an evolutionary psychologist, above average male height is associated with greater strength, competency, and intimidation. Within a primitive society, these factors translate into better combat potential and resource acquisition, resulting in healthier and stronger offspring. Therefore, a taller guy may be perceived as enjoying a higher social status, leadership potential, and consequently, access to more resources and survival.
In modern times, there's a growing body of research on adult height that finds taller people indeed still have greater resource acquisition, leading them to make more money. One study from Australia found that being 6 foot tall (a stature sometimes viewed as the ideal height) brings in an annual income of nearly $1,000 more than men just two inches shorter.
"Our estimates suggest that if the average man of about 178 centimeters [5 feet 10 inches] gains an additional five centimeters [2 inches] in height, he would be able to earn an extra $950 per year—which is approximately equal to the wage gain from one extra year of labor market experience," said study co-author Andrew Leigh, an economist at the Australian National University.
Other studies put those extra earnings per inch. Whether you call it a Halo Effect or whether it stems from evolution, the fact of the matter is that you could be losing money caused by height bias (aka silent height discrimination). And over time this yearly loss is compounded. Over the span of an entire career, this translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars in earnings advantage a tall person enjoys: the so-called "height premium." When someone is above average height, they tend to more easily exude confidence, leading to greater success. This in turn prompts people to ascribe those same height bias advantages and leadership qualities to the person above average height, creating a continual cycle.
So in the end, why do women prefer a person taller than themselves? Put simply, it is because they perceive a tall guy will have a greater earnings potential, which in turn maximizes chance of survival—or in the modern era, quality of life.
Now, of course, there are many examples of famous couples where the height difference is the inverse, and the guy is shorter than the woman. One prime example is Kevin Hart, who stands 5 foot 4 inches, and his wife, Eniko Hart, who stands about 3-4 inches over him. Even though in this case, Kevin Hart is married to a taller woman, he still has great earnings—proven resource acquisition. Other great examples are celebrities like Tom Cruise, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Downey Jr., and Ben Stiller.
So, of course it's possible for a woman to overlook male height. Relationships come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and height is just one component.
Then again, some of these very celebrities are known to tackle the height preference issue with shoe lifts and height increasing insoles. These insoles are worn inside the shoes, making their users anywhere from 1 to 3 inches taller.
What to do about feeling short
"A true king sees opportunity in any situation" - The English King in Braveheart
Even if you do consider yourself to be a shorter guy, that's completely okay. Step one: stop letting it get to you. Do not identify as less than just because you feel like a shorter person. After all, we're all human and body size varies in so many ways. Body-shaming is unacceptable whether it's due to race, weight, height, or anything else—so don't do it to yourself.
Having said that, if you still want the advantage that being taller brings, you're in luck. There are things you can do to appear (and actually become) taller, things you can do today to reach for the perfect height. There are exercises, fashion tips, and even shoe products (like the ones we mentioned earlier) that can help you increase your overall attractiveness.
In terms of physical activity, the options are almost endless—decompression hangs from a pull-up bar, weight-lifting, running, biking, and so much more. We are the tallest in the mornings and shortest by bedtime. When we sleep, because of the horizontal position, our spine has time to decompress. This means that when we wake up after a restful night, we're tallest in the morning. Then, by the end of the day, gravity and poor posture has worked together in an evil collusion to rob you of your height.
Invest in a pull-up bar to hang from, or even a 90º table angle to hang your spine off the floor to decompress and instantly regain that height. You can do this as many times throughout the day as you'd like.
In terms of fashion tips, wearing dark tones, with shirts that end mid-fly on your pants, and wearing fitted clothing that is not baggy makes you look taller.
To actually become taller, the best thing you can do is invest in a few nice pairs of height increasing men's shoe lift insoles to secretly enhance your height. Of course, you'll have to practice finding the right height combination for all of your shoes so that it's not obvious from a mile away. It's somewhat of an art, because the whole point is to wear them covertly, and the way that is done is by making sure it looks as subtle and invisible in whatever shoes you're wearing.
So in the end, women don't have some magical secret height requirement or specific ideal height; instead, they generally want someone who is a few inches taller than themselves. This desire originates within human evolution where larger men were viewed as better able to protect their offspring and provide adequate resources and nutrients.
Because of the modern era, the survivalist mentality may have weakened, but the desire to have a good home, adequate food and shelter, and sufficient protection still exists.
And the perception extends even beyond women, to the workplace where a taller guy may be seen as more capable or better able to lead, resulting in greater income, further contributing to the height bias perception and height discrimination.
But just because you may consider yourself a shorter guy, it doesn't mean that you have to live out the realities that exist for other people. You can avoid height bias in various ways, whether that's appearing taller through your choice of clothing, working out to get that "tougher" look, or using shoe lifts to add a couple inches to your stature.
Whatever you read about the height preferences that exist among women, just know that there are always solutions to help you out and put the past behind you.