Is being too tall or short a problem? Experts weigh in


 Jennifer Lawrence and Jodie Foster
Jennifer Lawrence and Jodie Foster

When Academy Award-winning actor Jodie Foster hurt herself in a skiing incident earlier this year, little did she know that she would soon turn into an Internet meme. The 55-year-old walked in to present an award at the 90th edition of the Oscars this year with the help of crutches. And, she had a pair of black moccasins on. Her companion, the 5-foot-9-inch tall Jennifer Lawrence towered beside her on heels. Beside Lawrence, Foster's 5-foot-3-inch frame looked "tiny".

Shrimoyee Chakraborty with her partner Bruno Ruis
Shrimoyee Chakraborty with her partner Bruno Ruis

What next? The ever-waiting Twitterati pounced on the duo, and trolled them like never before. And on the surface, the trolls were funny - "Is Jodie foster really short or is Jennifer Lawrence really tall?" or "Today I learned that Jodie Foster is three feet tall and Jennifer Lawrence is eight feet tall" or "I assume Jodie Foster and Jennifer Lawrence are in rehearsals for an all-female reboot of The Lord of the Rings". But on second thoughts, isn't this just another form of body-shaming? Read on.

Short stuff
At 28, Shrimoyee Chakraborty is the founder of Calcutta Street, a chain of restaurants in the UK. "I am 5 feet 2 inches, which is very short, but in India I never felt that anything was wrong. It became more of an insecurity issue when I came to England as a 20-year-old. Stephanie, my best friend then, was 5 feet 9 inches. When we went clubbing, everybody wore heels and I wasn't comfortable wearing thin stilettos. So I would wear normal block heels, and you could imagine the height difference. It's exactly what you saw between Lawrence and Foster! And that's exactly how we would look too. Taking a photo used to get so uncomfortable that we would finally sit down to take a proper click. A few days ago, I went to this award ceremony and I went directly from work. So I didn't have the time to change and wear heels. At the venue, there was this property agent, who wasn't that tall herself, but the first thing she told me was, 'Oh my god; aren't you tiny!' That hurt." While Chakraborty has learnt to be above these things, she feels that it can lead to insecurity at an impressionable age. "In fact, I started wearing heels. In London, everyone uses public transport. So imagine having to walk the entire day on heels. It affects your whole body. Only last year, I decided to accept myself for who I am."

Height differences
Journalists Arpita Banerji and Shilarze Saha Roy have built a happy home together in Chennai, something society would completely approve of. What people might raise an eyebrow to is the slight difference in their heights, which is to say that at 5 feet 7 inches, Banerji is a tad taller than her husband.

Arpita Banerji with husband Shilarze Saha RoyArpita Banerji with husband Shilarze Saha Roy

"Height was never on our minds when we fell in love," she says. For Roy, the difference comes up during fights, but then too simply to lighten the mood. "At times, I do keep telling her 'not to look down on' me. Most of my folks are short in height. So they were dazed when they saw my stunning wife. I do remember my mother telling me once that Arpita will set a 'tall order for you to match' and we both had a hearty laugh," he says.

Soumyasree Mukherjee (extreme right) towers over his pals
Soumyasree Mukherjee (extreme right) towers over his pals

Tall order
Soumyasree Mukherjee, an IT professional in Kolkata, never had to face any problem. At 6 feet 3 inches, he is often compared to Amitabh Bachchan. "I am single but my height has never been the reason behind it, except once when the mother of a girl I liked rejected me," the 26-year-old says.

Soumya Chowdhury (centre) stands tall
Soumya Chowdhury (centre) stands tall

The story is similar for Soumya Chowdhury, a senior consultant with a firm in Dubai. At 6 feet 2 inches, the only problem he faced was when he was working in Jamshedpur. "I remember this day when I was late for work. As I ran behind the bus, the only thing on my mind was being able to board it. Little did I know that a protruding tree branch would hit me and send me straight to a clinic with a bleeding forehead," he laughs.

Ameeta Sanghavi Shah, counsellor and Farzana Suri,  victory coach
Ameeta Sanghavi Shah, counsellor and Farzana Suri,  victory coach

From the experts
Mantra No 1: See the lighter side
"When one's height is not in the average range, it causes a loss of self-esteem or self-conscious­ness. When a couple's height difference is not as per societal standards, then it does create stress. It can sabotage a relati­onship if one hasn't come to terms with it. Focu­ss­ing your energy on stren­g­thening yourself is the key. Instead of accepting and coping with these probl­ems, one tends to get stre­s­sed about the issue, crea­ting anxiety and obses­s­ive-compulsive patterns. One should learn to see the hum­our in it," says Ameeta Sa­n­ghavi Shah, counsellor.

Mantra No 2: Knowledge makes a difference
"As a short person myself, it took a lot to get noticed and ack­nowledged for my work, simply out of fear that I woul­dn't be taken seri­ously. As a victory coach, when clients spoke to me over the phone they see­m­ed convinced of my capabi­lities. But when they'd meet me, they'd ask, 'How experienced are you?' However, once we got down to business, things changed. But it's knowledge with compe­tence that makes a difference," explains Farzana Suri, victory coach.

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