Women Are Super Shallow About Guys' Heights. Why Is Everyone OK With That?

Man on iPhone on Tinder
Jennifer Bui/Thrillist
Jennifer Bui/Thrillist

It's no secret that people are often drawn to certain physical characteristics when it comes to seeking out a partner.

But then again, it's also no secret that any man who stipulated he was seeking a size 2, minimum 34D on his profile would end up with a steady diet of swipes left, or possibly even hate mail.

So how come women do something quite similar with regularity, and no one seems to bat an eye?

The number of ladies on dating sites listing a minimum height requirement for potential matches is stunning. At the outset, I can understand: women are typically shorter than men; and if a man falls way below that variance it’s fairly easy to deduce he may be seen as less attractive to the general population. 

But you only have to skim through a few women's online dating profiles to discover height is regularly listed as a qualifier -- sometimes, as the only qualifier, even for women of average height.

"I don't want to be taller than the man I'm with. Period."

Here's a common one: "I like to wear heels, so if you're under (insert desired height) swipe left." And it's not even just requests for guys who are slightly taller -- in some cases it's pushed to the statistical edges of male height. Demanding that any suitors be taller than 6'3" is a rather limiting request considering the average male height in the US tops out around 5'10".

"It’s mind-boggling," says Gerard, 31, who is 5'10". "You see these women who are overweight and unattractive clamoring for a tall man on their profiles, but I can’t ask that the girl be attractive or under a certain weight.” 

Now, the above quote crystallizes an important point. No one here is claiming that guys aren't guilty of being shallow, too. If anything, men have earned their reputation for being superficial over the course of many generations. This is likely the exact reason that a guy doing something similar so flagrantly right there in his profile would feel tasteless and worthy of scorn.

Tinder profile screenshot
Screenshot via Bumble

And yet, isn't this brazen height-ism just another variation on the kind of "no fat chicks" misogyny that would seem both offensive and outdated if a guy were to just casually drop it into a Tinder profile? You know, something like this:

"I will only date men 5’11" and over," says Annabelle, a 35-year-old woman standing at an above-average height of 5'11". "Height is important to me and I don't want to be taller than the man I'm with. Period."
To be clear, this phenomenon doesn't apply to all, or even most women. There are plenty of them placing far more weight on personal chemistry. 

"To be honest, the most important thing to me in a man is confidence and humor," says Lisa, a 31-year-old woman married to a slightly shorter man. "Seriously, if he can make me laugh and is confident, he's in. This is what attracted me to my husband."

"Women act like they're playing 'Weird Science,' trying to create a million Ryan Goslings."

That said, the height thing is, most assuredly, a thing. What makes it so noteworthy is that it seems to be such a resolutely accepted thing. Take any other physical characteristic -- weight, hair color, size of... certain body parts -- and casually listing it as a non-negotiable dating requirement would strike the average person as at least kind of shallow and crass, if not offensively discriminatory.

And yet, hearing or seeing a woman say, "I'd absolutely never date a guy who's shorter than me" barely even draws a reaction.

"It's not the specific height requirement that bothers me," says Chris, 35, who happens to be 6'3". "It’s the overall pretentious nature of women on Tinder! I would never list a minimum bra size or say size 2 or less. Women act like they are playing Weird Science, attempting to create a million Ryan Goslings. Moral of Weird Science is that even if you create (or in our case, search on Tinder for) your perfect match, you won’t be satisfied. Stop the nonsense and be open to all kinds of men. Just ask Gary and Wyatt! It turned out great for them."

Call me a romantic, but it seems to me that one day a woman might pass a man sitting in a coffee shop, they'll lock eyes, and feel an instant attraction. And I have to believe that if the man stood up and was merely eye to eye with the woman, it wouldn't matter -- even if she generally preferred taller guys. And if a woman didn't look exactly like she did online you would fall in love with her for being her, not her filtered self.

At the end of the day, to quote my tall female friend, "You like what you like." But that goes for what's inside as well as what's outside. And that includes the important consideration of, you know, growing old together. So for those of you who are single and looking, remember: there may be a whole lot of perfectly eligible bachelors you might be (literally) overlooking.

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Cornelius Armstrong is a freelance writer for Thrillist who likes food, wine, and reasonably short women.