The Bias Against Short Men, Ctd

Apr 20 2011 @ 6:47pm

A reader writes:

I am a short guy myself, but I can't say it's ever been an issue for me. I grew up in France, where arguably people are somewhat shorter on average than in America.  However, this being the US of A, there is a medical diagnosis and a prescription drug for short people. I encountered that when talking to my toddler son's pediatrician. The doctor noticed that my son was comfortably sitting at the bottom of the growth chart and that he would most likely end up a measly 5'5'' (a little more than my wife and myself). He went on to say that this could qualify as "idiopathic short stature syndrom." And that we could potentially get our son on HGH (actually, it's called rGH I think – see here) if we felt that his projected short height could affect his self-confidence and ultimately, his mental health.

The doctor kindly added that from an evolutionary point of view, the premium was on brains anyway, so we shouldn't really consider treating our son's ISS condition unless he felt strongly about it. (The little guy is not even three, by the way.) My own experience and my upbringing led me to dismiss the doctor's suggestion as well as the medicalization of something that is, after all, a part of who I am.

On the other hand, I realized that back when I was 13 or 14, I would have jumped at the opportunity to hack my heredity and sneak in an additional 2-3 inches. The fact that I wasn't miserable or didn't feel the sting of not being of average height was more a result of my own social strategies and overall good nature. I can't be sure that my son will be as oblivious or as full of himself as I ever was. So if I can help remove some of the awkwardness …

I'm actually considering the growth hormone treatment for him, at some point later in his life. It is a heavy regimen, involving daily subcutaneous injections, a bit like shooting insulin everyday. While my wife is appalled, I tend to take a more benign view of the whole thing. If you can treat it, why not do it? I guess I've become completely American in that respect.

Another writes:

There are a plethora of topics you cover that I enjoy following and occasionally contributing to (one of these days I'll submit my own Cannabis Closet piece), but the bias against short men is one that hits home for me. On a good day I stand 5'2". I was treated with steroids as a child because I was "abnormal". It didn't seem to matter that my parents were both short, that my mother stood 5" even; there was a sense of urgency about getting me to a more normal height. At one point, my father even explored a suit against the U.S. government for exposure to Agent Orange during his time refueling helicopters in Vietnam, trying to claim my height resulted from exposure. I haven't grown more than 2" since I was twelve years old and I blame the steroids.