No but seriously, if a tall dude comes in for a hug with a grin on his face, I have reason to suspect that I am about to be lifted into the air, squeezed, plopped down, maybe have my head patted, and be told I am “so cute.” It has happened before and it will happen again. Sometimes they say “I can pick you up, right?” and completely take away my voice, which is too bad because I may have a little body, but I have a big voice.
I am five feet tall and fairly thin. When I spoke at my college commencement, I had to stand on a box to reach the podium. For some reason, my short stature and small frame is an invitation to treat me as a child, a toy to be lifted into the air. This is more than annoying; this is an act of oppression. On most days, unless I am trying to change a light bulb, I do not feel particularly oppressed solely by my height. In the case of these lifting incidents, the confluence of my gender and age in addition to my height lead to a demeaning combination. When I talk to some of my short friends, they empathize.
Remember that episode of The Office, “The Fight,” when then-friends Jim and Pam were playing around at the dojo and all was fun until Jim lifted Pam up? The two of them are pretending to fight, then Jim lifts her up and she exclaims “put me down.” At first, Jim assumes it was a joke, but her tone becomes increasingly agitated, and her shirt accidentally gets pulled. Being lifted made Pam uncomfortable and self-conscious. Then Pam didn’t speak to Jim for the rest of the episode. I totally connected with Pam in that episode. Being lifted up is beyond irksome; it makes me feel powerless. If you see a short person, even if they are a friend, resist the urge to lift them up and remember this: I much prefer to stand on my own two feet.
Emily Schorr Lesnick is a recent graduate of Macalester College, where she studied gender, identity, and comedy. Her writing has been featured on Splitsider, The Mary Sue, Funny not Slutty, Hello Giggles and Lilveggiepatch. You can follow her on Twitter @ESchorrLesnick.