Where exactly does the preference come from? There are a variety of reasons, at least when it comes to heterosexual relationships. One is cultural, including predominantly Western expectations that reinforce the smaller woman-taller man dynamic, said Natalia Zhikharevaa clinical psychologist based in Los Angeles.
“We live in a society where size is always valued, being tall and attractive,” she said. “Wherever you look, [whether it’s] social media, TV, movies, even take a child’s story, Cinderella – the main man is tall. Imagine if Prince Charming got off his horse and was 1.75m tall? We are inundated with this message that this is what is appealing and this is what is appealing.
Why some people say on their profile that they prefer taller men
On the other side of the coin, some women may base their own sense of attractiveness and femininity in the context of a partner’s size.
Rachael, who is 25, 5’5″ and prefers men to be her size or taller, said the increase in stature dulls any self-consciousness about her body shape and size, making more fulfilling and less awkward intimacy.
“In a way it could also affect our self-esteem, because it’s like if you consider short men as less compatible partners, why does it say about me if I only have men little guys rolling around in my DMs?” said Rachael, who asked that we not use her last name. “Does this mean that none of the best muscle men will watch [at] me?”
On dating apps, men tend to lead with measurements, starting their bios with “Height seems to matter here, so before you ask, I’m 6’1”. They can forgo custom touches entirely by limiting details to their height. It’s a tactic that can certainly incentivize a swipe to the right – according to the Badoo dating app, the top keyword used by men to get matches was “6ft.” But it also puts women in an awkward position where they have to resort to size as a proxy or signifier of who they are as a person.
“I’m a pretty short real-life woman who doesn’t have a size preference for guys I meet in real life,” Sabrina K. wrote to BuzzFeed News in an email. “However, on dating apps, I see myself wanting taller men. I know I don’t care in real life, but on dating apps, I do… [because] the profiles aren’t that detailed, and there’s not much to worry about when swiping for men.
That’s not to say that using proxies is bad. We use them all the time to filter age, political status, or an undying love for Lizzo. But it seems height in particular prevents us from getting a real idea of a person who might otherwise be compatible in features that aren’t their height, said Matthew Lundquistpsychotherapist and founder of Tribeca Therapy in New York, specializing in dating.
“Dating apps distort the reality of the complex, nuanced, in vivo, lived chemical complexity of two people being in a room together, whether or not they want to go on a second date, kiss, embrace, or build a life together,” he said.
Height Stigma in the Queer Community
Trans men aren’t exempt from height disadvantage when dating straight women, says James Barnesa coach who helps trans people transition.
“I’ve had trans men who are clients [and] who will meet someone they want to date. Women will say they’re too short, say outright, “I’m not even against you being trans, you’re just not my type, I want a taller guy.” said Barnes, who is transgender himself. “Size has impacted many trans men in my life. … I have seen them miss out on what I would say is the possibility of good relationships simply because of their size.
This is especially true if coming across as male is important to a trans man or someone who identifies as male, said Zhikareva, who specializes in transgender care and counselling.
“When you’re dating someone and you come up against the stereotype – that you assume you’re someone big and strong – and you feel like you’re not up to it, you’re going to have insecurities,” he said. she declared. These insecurities can, consciously or unknowingly, drive trans people into a self-sabotaging belief that their lack of height will frustrate any hope of a second date—a mindset that cis men can have as well.
For smaller men overall, this can add to a spiraling sense of hopelessness, hopelessness, and bitterness about something physical they can’t change, which can make it even worse. their risk of poor mental health. (Swipe based dating apps Was found contribute to higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression; a 2020 Pew Research poll reported that 25% of online users said apps made them more insecure.)
Even if you are a little king who has overcome obstacles in encounters, the struggle may not be over for you. Urwah Bangi (5’8″), from California, and her husband Uwais (5’3″), from the United Kingdom, regularly post videos about their height difference on TikTok. Bangi herself never had any height preferences growing up; his mother was taller than his father, and his height was simply not discriminated against in their household. But when Bangi married her husband and they started posting videos on social media, the hateful comments were relentless.
“There were a lot of transphobic comments,” Bangi said. “[People online] said I’m a lesbian in the closet and that [Uwais] is a trans man because of his short stature. … They feminize it and masculinize me because of my height. If it’s a video of him doing something nice for me, they’re like, “Oh, she’s just a little girl.” And if it’s a video of the two of us standing together, they’re like, ‘Oh, look at her standing with her son,’ or something stupid like that.”
Bangi has now filtered all comments on her TikTok videos and asks her husband or friend to approve comments; hatred can be too much to bear. This suggests that a fixation on size can lead to toxic behaviors and attitudes beyond dating apps.
What therapists think about size bias on dating apps
In recent years (especially during the pandemic), online platforms and dating apps have worked towards more personal authenticity, compatibility, and real-world interactions. Yet hidden in the algorithms is the risk of becoming too superficial, at least for some people, Barnes said.
“I have friends who go on these dating apps and the superficiality comes out, and they’re not normally superficial people,” he said. “[Most of] these apps are just designed to make it look good, which is devastating because really everyone is out to find a relationship.