Women are constantly shamed because they don’t live up to the unrealistic female bodies plastered everywhere in media (Skinny, but curvy! Wear makeup, but it has to look “natural”!), and yet we rarely hear about men who feel a similar pain. They may struggle with weight issues or wish they could show off well-toned muscles, but the sorest spot is a characteristic that no one can change: height. Shorter men say they face prejudice, notably in the dating world, while tall guys have countless advantages. And the data appears to largely back them up.
But screw that noise. We need to reframe the issue. Fuck tall men — it’s time to pay our respects to short kings.
Short kings have existed forever, but writer/comedian and must-follow Twitter legend Jaboukie Young-White has amplified their voice a thousandfold in the past few weeks. It began with an impassioned, viral defense of their honor and soon expanded into a short positivity movement, complete with a Short King Appreciation Day, which appropriately fell on the summer solstice — the longest day of the year. Because short kings absolutely deserve big things.
Why carve out a day for them at all? Because the media (especially vain Hollywood) are always tricking us into thinking that prominent men are much taller than they are instead of letting us bask in the glory of short kings like Danny DeVito, Gandhi, Bruno Mars, and Martin Luther “Short” King Jr., who stood a magnificent 5-foot-7. These are men who made, or make, no apologies for their vertical limit — which isn’t, as they’ve all proved, much of a limit at all. Short kings put the lie to height supremacy just by being the awesome, complete, and fearless people they are.
Perhaps you’re wondering exactly how short a short king is. Honestly, it depends! The late rock legend Prince, despite his name, was an undisputed short king at 5-foot-3. Oscar Isaac, a full six inches taller, has been declared a short king — though some might set the cutoff at 5′ 8″, what with 5′ 9″ being the rough average for American males. As a 6-foot-2 dude (sorry), I am pretty clearly well out of short king range, which also gives me the skewed perspective of seeing any guy under six feet as “short,” with built-in potential for short king status. I guess it’s all relative.
Regardless, a short king celebrates his height, always wearing it well. He’s never been envious of a 6-foot-plus dude’s gawky frame, and he sure as hell doesn’t add inches to his own measurements to impress anyone. He won’t be contained by the stereotype of the short man as an angry little Napoleon, nor the insulting idea that he’s somehow not as masculine. For him, shortness is not a liability, but an advantage — it’s crisply elegant and efficient. The short king knows he makes for a better romantic partner, too, doing more housework and divorcing less.
Like the recently popularized concept of “big dick energy,” short kinghood evokes a healthy confidence without egotism: a blessed attitude that transcends the physical. The nod to royal status is a reminder that we each rule over the dominion of the self, and we can choose to decree our stature, race, gender, and orientation as the exemplary ideal of that province. This is not to diminish anyone else’s identity, of course — only to realize the power of inward love.
So ask yourself: Do you subtly overvalue tallness, and have you dismissed the regal greatness of short kings? Is there not a short man you engage with daily who wears an intangible crown? You notice his poise, his comfort, the way he fits perfectly into this world, unfazed by society’s thirst for larger and lankier fellows. He is a compact gem, and his appeal cannot be reduced to “cuteness,” although he’s certainly cute as hell. Take a moment to be awed at the excellent man he worked to become, and then tell him: “Short king, you have my undying loyalty and admiration. Dear sovereign, let poets sing your benevolence for all the centuries to come.”
Seriously. Go do it. Why are you still reading this? It’s just more words from another tall dirtbag.