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!