The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
On the evening of October 4th, 2021, I had just returned to my dorm from one of my longest days yet. To unwind, my roommate and I decided to share some giggles and intellectual conversation, and the topic of America’s Next Top Model arose. We were complaining about how the show lacks representation for shorter girls and that they made a fiasco when they decreased the height requirement to 5’6 for their 22nd cycle. Yeah, 5’6. My roommate, myself, and a majority of my friends are all barely 5’2.
They have since removed all height requirements, but nonetheless, ANTM was a show I grew up watching. It made a huge impact on how I saw myself. It was also my first real look at society’s beauty standards on women. I have an older sister, about six years my senior, and our weekly ritual included scoping out Trya’s picks and judging the models as if we were on the panel. Watching this show made me idolize the modeling industry and the elongated, European, thin, tall body shape. I began researching modeling agencies, asking my parents for headshot photoshoots and training; however, I was quickly shut down. I was short. My mom pushed 4’10 and my sister stopped growing at 4’11, so I was destined for tiny supremacy.
Being a short girl is something almost inexplicable. I spent my first 14 years wishing I was taller. Hoping to reach a cabinet better, or give my tip-toes a break, or see someone at eye level. That was until one day when I was complaining to my middle school English teacher about how being short was my greatest disadvantage. I feared that I would be ridiculed, made fun of, and underestimated my entire life. She looked at me and shook her head. “Absolutely not.” She told me being short will be my biggest ally and number one supporter. I have to use your small stature to get through the crowd (quite literally), and once I get to the top, that is when it will really feel breathtaking. For me personally, It will be life-changing. For me, being at the top meant doing what I love everyday and creating for the entertainment industry. All of the people who doubted the little girl, would all be looking up to me. Those who told me I couldn’t do it would become my fuel and motivation. So that one day, I could be the one looking down.
Not everyone was as lucky to have a super cool English teacher in seventh grade, though. Most of my short friends still want to grow and I believe shows like America’s Next Top Model created that kind of idea in our heads. The idea is that the ideal body is 5’6 and 100lbs. But that is not true. Being small has so many advantages. It has been clinically proven that short people live longer, and are less likely to develop certain cancers. We always get the best spot in photos – front and center. We can wear high heels and look hot as hell while still keeping that beautiful stature, and it’s undeniable that short girls look younger longer. We fit comfortably in every seat on a plane, and most importantly, we are killers at hide and go seek.
Although media and entertainment may portray taller women to be the ‘ideal body type, it’s important to highlight that those idealizations were created centuries ago. We are in an era full of diversity and inclusivity; we shouldn’t be enforcing stigmas like these any longer. So don’t be surprised if you see me among Karlie Kloss at the next Paris fashion week, 4’11 and proud!