Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gracias a toda la gente corta ...

So Americans are now getting shorter. I haven't heard such good news for I don't know how long. For, you see, I am a shorty myself. Thus, I have always resented the stereotypical image of an American "standing tall"—literally.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the average height of an American male is 5-foot-9, and for an American woman, it's 5-foot-3. Perfectly acceptable, if you ask me.
Europeans—especially northern Europeans—are now taller than us. The Danish, Norwegians, Swedes and Dutch are, in a literal sense, people to look up to. But so what if the average height for a Dutch man is a remarkable 6 feet? At least the Dutch are friendly and helpful. They don't let their heights go to their heads. Having been to Amsterdam several times, I know this to be true.
What is annoying, however, is that Americans' shorter heights are blamed on junk food and/or pollution. Now I'm as anti-junk food a person as you'll find anywhere—I practically worship Morgan Spurlock for his ground-breaking Super Size Me—and I'm not exactly very fond of pollution either. But I have long suspected that Americans may be getting shorter—this latest report only confirms my suspicions—for a reason that's not very politically correct to state.
For decades, Hispanics have been mixing with the general American population, and increasing our population through mass immigration, so it's no wonder Americans may be shorter on average now than in past decades when northern European blood predominated. Hispanics are short people. I have walked through Hispanic neighborhoods in the Boston area before and have encountered no end of males that were as tall as me or shorter. Sometimes I feel like a giant when standing next to some Hispanic men.
Would I change my height if I could? Sure I would. I think 5-foot-11 is the ideal male height. It's tall enough to look good and be commanding, but short enough to allow for some humility. It's perfect. I'd love it if my legs and back grew another six inches between them and I woke up measuring 5'11" tomorrow. For all of my 37 years, I've had to fight hard for command and am no stranger to humility. But, as they say, there's no use crying over spilt milk—or spilt genes—so I have resolved to do the best I can with the 65 inches I already possess. I guess that's as lofty as you can expect to get when you're half-Paddy, half-Yorkshireman comme moi.
But the good news is, given another decade or two, I may find myself edging closer to average where American heights are concerned.


Tusk said...

Genetics determine the upper and lower limits of your height. The rest is down to the environment. (eg Nutrition, etc)
So although it *could* be the proliferation of Hispanics that is decreasing the average height--a large portion of the blame is also due to Malnutrition.

kristen said...

Interesting theory. I'm still a total believer in genetics.

Not to be all teachery or anything, but the word for 'short' in Spanish is 'baja'

Nightdragon said...

I thought "baja" meant "under"? As in "Baja California?"

Nightdragon said...

Besides, Kristen, being familiar with French, as I am, the French word for short is "court."

So, as Spanish is a sister Latinate language, "corta" would make sense -- it's derived from the same Latin root word.

Maybe "baja" is Mexican/Latin American Spanish for short -- a colloquialism or something? But I always thought it meant "sub-" or "under."

kristen said...

dragon--being that I spent a year and a half in Uruguay and became fluent in the Spanish language, I learned a few things. To refer to people as being 'short', it is bajo (the feminine being baja). Bajo can also mean underneath. Corto refers to shortness of length or distance (not height). I know, very confusing. That's the problem with languages. There are no direct translations many times.

Nightdragon said...

Fair enough, then, K. Didn't realize you were fluent in Spanish.

Pam said...

So we're getting shorter on this side of the pond, eh? Your theory is an interesting one, and not without merit. I'm almost 5'9 (and as a woman spent my youth trying desperately to fit in by looking shorter, till I realized that slouching is just ugly), and even though I've gotten past the whole "I'm too tall" thing I feel rather Amazonish when standing with the many Hispanic men who ride the same bus to work as I do.