What’s Your Definition of Short?

Have you ever had a lifelong idea about yourself shattered with just one statement?

That’s exactly what happened while I was shopping yesterday.

I went into a store at the mall in search of a pair of shoes. They had to be cute. Functional. Comfortable. Sort of stylish. And not over-priced.

Not asking much, huh?

But if you don’t set some parameters, you could end up with the opposite of what you’re hunting for. And I had a pair of casual twill slacks that were screaming for new shoes.

I explained my predicament to the clerk, who suggested ballet flats.

‘Already have some,’ I said. And the slacks I’m looking to wear with this as-yet-purchased pair of shoes hang about three inches longer than flats will accommodate.

‘Oh, then you need heels,’ she said.

Shrugging, I nodded.

‘Of course, you’re short and probably could stand having your pants hemmed,’ she pointed out.

‘Short? Me? No way.’

I’m pushing 5’6″, not short by anyone’s measure (unless I’m standing beside my TALL son!)

‘Five-six? Oh, but that is short,’ she assured me. ‘Why, today’s average woman is between 5’8″ and 5’10”. That’s why manufacturers are lengthening pant legs and jacket sleeves.’


Another customer overheard our discussion and inserted her two bits’ worth.

‘I always buy petites or short sizes,’ she said. ‘And I’m almost your height.’

No, she wasn’t. I could see I had a good inch or two on her. But who argues with another customer in a shoe store?

“Petites,” from everything I’ve read, are for women under 5’4″, specifically in the 4’11” to 5’3″ range.

That is NOT me.

Still bristling, I hurried (without a purchase) back home to my laptop to search for the average size of American women today. Guess what?

According to scienceray.com, the average height of American women was 5’3″ in 1960 but increased to 5’4″ in 2002. The article goes on to say the average size increases every two to three decades.

That’s 20 to 30 years, people!

By my calculations, it might take 45 years for the average woman’s height to reach my height. And in 45 years, I probably won’t give one fiddle-dee-dee whether my pant legs drag all over the street or not!

Store clerks who want to make sales should never insult customers, argue with them, or make all-encompassing assertions that are wrong (especially when customers are able to check the facts themselves).

I am NOT short, I’m average.

And I don’t consider that an insult. I’ve thought it all along!


It all started with a simple question: “Do you need anything?”

My Favorite Domer said he needs a pair of shoes. Have you ever tried to buy shoes for a teenager who’s not with you to try them on — or help pick them out? Trust me, you don’t want to!

MFD said he wants tennis shoes. Not the “fashionable” kind with lightweight mesh covering the foot; not the kind with gaudy colors — just “basic” sneakers. The kind that hold up in the cold and wet weather that predominates northern Indiana at this time of year.

I’ll probably end up visiting every shoe store within an hour’s radius, looking for the “perfect pair” of shoes. We moms don’t mind, though, do we?

You know, it’s hard enough finding shoes for myself. For some odd reason, women’s shoes just plain aren’t comfortable. Now, I’m not talking about slippers or sneakers here; I’m referring to dress shoes.

Which idiot designed those pointy-toed stilettoes with 5-inch heels? I ask you, does that kind of shoe look like any woman’s foot you’ve ever seen? And who can walk in those things? If you have to sway when you’re standing to keep your balance and wobble like a drunk when you’re walking, well that’s not my idea of dignity and class!

And how about those flat-soled, sueded, furry boots the kids have all grabbed up this season and last? Sure, they’re cute, but I wonder how practical they are in typical boot-weather of rain and snow? Of course, if you’re living in the Deep South, no problem — wear ’em and be cute!

But even flip-flops aren’t comfortable, not for me anyway. I never could stand having that rubbery thing between my big toe and second toe. It does nothing but chafe and rub blisters; shoot, even the flapping sound those things make when you walk gets annoying after a while!

I used to wear dress shoes — every day — and loved them. I had a closet full of at least 3-inch heels — in all the practical colors — and I never had achy feet when I slipped them off at day’s end. I wore cowboy boots, too — again, with heels and pointed toes; no problems. So when did all this change?

I refuse to blame it on age. There are countless women my age (and older!) who wear these uncomfortable shoes daily and seem to have no issues with them. And really, would the designers, manufacturers, and sellers keep churning out these things if there was no market for them? I don’t think so.

If truth be told, I suspect my changing opinion occurred when I started working for myself. At last, I could wear what I wanted to, when I wanted to! If I wanted to go barefoot, who would know? What freedom!

So most days now, you’ll find me in the most comfortable shoes available — my own feet, some next-to-nothing chocolate-brown moccasins I got at Land’s End, or my sneakers. Only if I have a client meeting outside my office or a funeral to attend will I succomb to the agony of wearing dressy shoes.

After all, if your feet hurt, how can you expect to do your best work??