FACT: Women find tall men sexy.
This isn’t a comfortable idea. In this day and age we like to believe that attractiveness is purely personal taste.
But a little observation in day to day life will make it clear: tall men have an easier time getting noticed.
Watch when a tall guy enters a bar — or just a grocery store, for that matter. Everyone looks his way, not just the women.
(Of course, this can be a disadvantage from time to time — if a tall guy has the bad luck to be around when police are questioning or detaining people, guess who they’re going to slap the cuffs on first, just to be safe?)
It’s also a part of our cultural slang. When people (and especially women) are talking about “movie star good looks” or romantic ideals or the like, the phrase “tall, dark, and handsome” is sure to come up.
Some people will say it’s not their “type,” of course — but it’s the phrase that gets used as the baseline all the same. Even people who don’t want “tall, dark, and handsome” are assuming that it’s the standard for good looks.
Some of this is psychological and some of it is practical. A taller man has some basic conveniences in typical “flirting” arenas like bars — he can talk over people’s heads, has a better view of the room, is naturally eye-catching when others are scanning the crowd, etc.
So the takeaway here is that being short isn’t a negative thing — being tall is a positive. No one (well, no one who’s not a TOTAL jerk) is dismissing shorter guys because they don’t like them. It’s just that the taller men have an automatic advantage that they’re usually not even conscious of.
The Biological Advantage
The immediate practical advantage of being more easily noticed often gets taller men the foot in the door they need to strike up a conversation, try their hand at flirting, etc.
But does it help after that? Science says yes.
Again, this is an uncomfortable idea for most of us, but there are still biological urges underwriting even our most casual flirting. Social norms do a passable job of controlling them (that’s why we invented the norms in the first place), but some part of our brain is still looking for a mate-and-provider, even if that’s something of no interest to our practical, conscious mind.
Bigger men look, on a fundamental level, like better providers and protectors. They might not be — physical advantages that went a long way when we were picking most of our food off of trees and hunting the occasional ungulate don’t necessarily do much for us on the jobs market — but the illusion is still their. Our brains evolve very, very slowly.
That’s thousands of years of human instinct favoring the tall guy right there. (It’s also why the standard for “hunks” is still a guy with ripped, chiseled muscles — again, it sends a signal saying “good protector/provider”).
So is that all it comes down to? Of course not. We’ve done a good job subordinating instinct to conscious thought. People enter relationships for all kinds of reasons, most of which don’t have anything to do with height or appearance. But again, it’s that foot in the door that a shorter or an out-of-shape man doesn’t necessarily get.
How to Beat Biology
It’s starting to sound here like tall guys get the natural advantage and there’s nothing someone short can do about it, right?
Well, to some extent that’s true. Short of some seriously painful surgeries or a late growth spurt, nothing is going to make your naked body taller than it is already.
But the good news is, we’re not naked most of the time. And there are clothes that can make you “taller.”
The obvious one is heeled shoes and inserts, two different takes on increasing height by adding a physical platform underneath you. These are good when not taken too far — a dress shoe with a bit of heel looks fine, as does a deliberately-heeled style like a Chelsea or cowboy boot, but don’t go overboard. People can tell when your dress shoes start to look more like a low-heeled woman’s shoe.
Lifts or inserts are more invisible, and can add several inches, but can also make your shoe fit poorly (you’ll probably need to try on and purchase shoes specifically for wear with the lifts), and tend to make your posture a little stiffer as you balance on them.
A simpler, vertically-oriented dress style is also a big adder of perceived “height.” Slim trousers, a plain, dark shirt, and a sharply-fitted jacket guide the eyes right up to your face, which makes you seem taller. Throw some light pinstripes in to help things along, and avoid unnecessary horizontal elements like extra pockets. Just swapping a belt for suspenders makes a big difference (where it’s appropriate, obviously — a short guy wearing jeans with suspenders is clearly trying too hard).
They’re all little changes, but they help you take advantage of other people’s biology by appearing taller, sleeker, and more “fit” for their natural preferences. Try it and see how much of a difference you notice — that’s the advantage that taller men are enjoying unconsciously all the time.
But Shouldn’t I Be Myself?
The big problem here is that this feels like “cheating.”
We’re told that it’s important to be ourselves, that we’re fine the way we are, and so on. Which is a great way to think — in terms of character and personality. Those are who you are, and that’s where you really should be truthful, straightforward, and uncompromising, both with yourself and others.
Physically, there’s nothing wrong with playing around a little.
We’re a dramatic — and a somewhat vain — species. We have been since our earliest days on Earth. Jewelry and ornamentation are as old as clothing itself, and serve none of the practical functions. We’ve been dressing up the reality of our bodies almost as long as we’ve been making tools.
It’s not as if, by wearing heels or inserts, or choosing patterns that flatter your height, you’re doing anything different from other sharp dressers. Everyone (except total slobs) is “cheating” by using some product or other to make themselves look better. Colognes and perfumes? There to make us smell “sexier.” High heels for women? A boost to height and a “sexier” walk. Tailored clothing, designer fashion; luxury watches? All just ways to make ourselves look better and fitter as mates.
Dressing “taller” has personal benefits as well — we tend to be our clothing, to such an extent that studies have shown men who put on a doctor’s coat perform better on simple math and logic tests than men without it (and, tellingly, better than men who wore the same coat but were told it was an artist’s smock rather than a doctor’s coat!). When you feel like you’re looking tall, powerful, and like the center of attention, you internalize those good feelings and start to behave with more confidence.
So don’t be shy about using your clothing to get past that natural “height filter” and get your foot in the door. All’s fair in love and war, after all.
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