If your FYP page went into a frenzy on July 2, you’re probably on ‘Tomdaya’, or Tom Holland and Zendaya, TikTok (same). The Spider-Man co-stars were photographed during a PDA-filled car ride that confirmed their off-screen romance after years of speculation. While many fans had an ‘I’m fine’ reaction (read it in Ross Geller’s voice for dramatic effect), others were outwardly incredibly excited for the new (or at least, newly confirmed) couple. Shortly after the confirmation of their relationship, the height difference between them (the Euphoria actress is 5’10’’, while our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man stands at 5’8’’) became a popular topic of discussion, with fans launching into jokes.
While I’m sure their fans meant no harm, I couldn’t help but latch onto this obsession we seem to have with height differences, especially when a woman is taller than her male partner. You’d think that after years of fighting gender stereotypes, women wouldn’t care about details like this, right?! But even with couples like Sophie Turner (5’9″) and Joe Jonas (5’7″) or Gigi Hadid (5’10”) and Zayn Malik (5’9″) to show us the light, there’s still a stigma surrounding short guys. Some girls say that one of their main requirements is for a man to be taller than them, while others go so far as to say he must be at least six feet. But why?
As a 5’4″ woman myself, it’s not that hard for a man to be taller than me, but I’ll still admit that I’ve thought about how I would look standing next to my celebrity crush more than a couple of times. Why? To be honest, I can’t really put it into words. Some of my friends said things like, “I love their wide shoulders,” or “It makes me feel protected,” the latter of which came off as a surprise to me, although it was a popular response. As women, I think we know we can protect ourselves, but there seems to just be something about a bigger man that makes us feel otherwise.
In a post entitled ‘10 Reasons Why I’ll Never Date A Short Guy,’ Irina Terehova suggests another reason that women may prefer taller men: she says she’s never met a short man comfortable with his own height, suggesting that some guys may feel emasculated when they’re in a relationship with a taller woman, going so far as to blame their frustrations on their partners. To me, this screams of sexism – kind of along the lines of men feeling less masculine because their SO makes more money that they do.
But before you exclaim ‘not all men’ (please, save me the eye roll), yes – I know there are guys whose personalities are not driven by toxic masculinity (hey, soft bois, I’m looking at you!). So, what’s the move? Should we friendzone men just because they’re short?
Women have been held to impossible beauty standards for years, especially at the hands of men, so I’m definitely not here to make things easier for them, just because. While I encourage you to keep your standards higher than the Empire State building, I must encourage you to also consider men that might not be your first choice at a glance. Like Zendaya, you might just find your Tom Holland.
Before their relationship was ever confirmed, they’d showcased their adorable friendship for years in press interviews, cover shoots, and Instagram posts. Could their relationship be a result of the Spider-Man effect (since every on-screen couple in every version of the Spider-Man movies have dated in real life)? Anything’s possible, but it’s notable that ‘Tomdaya’ have been there for each other since the very beginning – Zendaya even helped him get used to stardom. He’s also known for being unproblematic (if you don’t count all the spoilers he’s divulged), quite the opposite of a toxic man (maybe it’s a British thing?). Who cares if he’s only 5’8″? He’s still a keeper!
Instead of worrying about how much a man towers over you, let’s focus on finding one that’s a genuinely good person. He might come in all shapes and sizes, and that’s okay. Tall or not, there’s so many other qualities we should be looking for in our partners. Are they kind? Are they up for a Princess Diaries marathon? Will they role their eyes at you when you spend way too much money on Taylor Swift’s next tour, or will they tag along? There are things far more important than height, and if you’re lucky, they may just lead you to that Peter Parker and MJ kind of love.