Monday, June 6, 2011

on being small

It has its perks and then a great deal of the time it can really suck.

Perks -
  • People are not easily intimidated by me. This means people generally feel pretty comfortable around me and I can get past many people's outer shell more quickly.
  • Men, especially, feel like they need to protect me. They see me as vulnerable and I can make even the smallest of guys feel big and tall and strong. In essence, I can make people feel more secure and better about themselves. And more importantly, I can (and do) use this to my advantage.
  • People make positive assumptions about my personality. They assume I'm cute and fun instead of fearsome and witchy.
  • People like to touch me. This is both a perk and a not perk. For some reason people don't feel as intimidated to touch someone who is small. I don't know if its because they associate me with a child or something but I get a lot of hugs and little touches.
  • People offer to help me a lot. Moving that big table? Putting up those tall lights? Whatever it is, people often see small and think 'childlike and helpless'.
  • Shopping. Easy. Nobody is my size in the women's section generally so all the clothes I like are in the clearance section and if I'm feeling particularly comfortable in my own skin, I can save money and shop in the kids section.
  • Kids and animals. I'm pretty good with kids and animals. They feel comfortable around someone closer to their size. Kids assume I'm not really an adult so they let me into their kid world and animals see that I have an adult demeanor but am small so they usually warm right up to me.
  • Professionally, they call me many things like "the little dynamo". I can pack a hard punch and can generally get away with murder because again, people generally feel comfortable around me and don't find me intimidating. People feel I'm smart and down to earth (more easily done when you are literally closer to the earth).

There are non perks. Sometimes being my size really sucks.
  • People aren't intimidated by me. This can be a double edged sword. I feel like I have to take things two steps further to establish that I won't be walked on. I go out of my way to help people put it together that I'm damn smart. I've found that if people respect me and know me to be very intelligent, then my size is never an issue. Without this though, I'm just a small, cute little girl. The way I speak, how I dress, and everything that makes up how I present myself is pretty choreographed to establish my intellect. Once I feel someone gets that I'm smart, then I know I'll be taken seriously so I back off and don't generally worry about it again. My way of sizing myself up though, is my brain.
  • People feel like they need to help me. This has made me really really strong willed and independent. At times I've felt an inner rage that screams about my capabilities. And at times, it has come at a great cost. I've lost the sweet succor of willing hands from friends and even from God when I've been too proud to admit I need help... but just so we're clear, I usually don't need any help. :)
  • Jokes. I'm often the butt of jokes about my size. I roll with it. I joke about it myself. It could be the main reason I'm funny. Who knows?! But sometimes it gets old. There are a few things people feel like its totally fine to give people a really hard time about: being short and being skinny. For some reason, its totally fine to pick on someone for these things. Back in the day when my husband was a toothpick (he has since put on some muscle and is looking mighty fine if I say so myself) we use to come home from stuff feeling terrible about ourselves. People would pick on him about being skin and bones (something he seriously couldn't do anything about despite his best efforts) and about me being a shorty pants. Seriously? You think your joke is original or that I'm unaware of my height? pleeeease.
  • Weight. Gain 10 lbs on a normal sized person and its not too big of a deal. Gain 10 lbs on me and its 10% of my body weight and people are biting at the chomp to ask about babies and due dates. I hate that my body does me like that.
  • Self-image. I've always been blessed to have a good shape and a healthy body. I'm grateful for that in many ways, but sometimes (and I'm sure we all have this to a certain extent) it can seem like a far stretch from what society deems as ideal. As a teenager I felt that it was hard to be considered 'sexy' and not just 'cute' because of my size. So I had sexuality ooozing from every pore so that I wouldn't be looked at as just some cute little kid. I've obviously toned it down over the years and I certainly don't seek society's, and more specifically men's, approval the way I did as an insecure youth. But there is still this very small nagging feeling that when I wear flats, for example, I'm giving up on looking "hot" and am instead going for a cute and casual look because people will realize how petite I really am...and thats not generally thought of as sexy so much as 'circus freakish'.
Anyway, this was a lot about me and about my size. I just think its interesting how we can so easily associate things with size. The other day I made some aside about being small and about doing some sort of assault training and one of my very tall friends (6'1" female) said something about how she never feels scared in an alley and probably won't ever need assault training because no one would pick her out as an easy target. I thought about how interesting it must be to be a large woman who never really feels afraid walking by herself at night. And I know she has her own stigmas to fight because of her size (more easy to think she is a witch, or pressure to be a big friendly giant, or people who assume she is athletic, or whatever else) but sometimes it seems so nice.

I'd even take 5'2". I mean, come on! is that so unreasonable?


Aleisha Z. Coleman said...

and then there is fat...really, sterotypes are there for a reason, but man are they ANNOYING!

Leah Stone said...

And then there is the freak with the service dog. I totally feel you on this one Jo. Love you even if you are a small package I still think you are damn sexy!

suzie said...

I wonder what other demographic compares with short white women in our society? Tall Hispanic men? Asian women with large hands? Fat white men with webbed feet and cauliflower ear? We need to do some research. Ps. I was nervously scanning your "cons" section for "careless condescending friends pat me on the head". Luckily I found it in the pros section right before "and then I get to call them out and level them".