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Archive for the ‘body shaming’ Category

Content Warning: Height dysphoria, transphobia

I recently joined the millions of users on Tinder, a social networking app that allows for mutually interested individuals to communicate if they are within a predetermined distance. Tinder functions simply. Users are presented one-by-one with other profiles—which include up to six photos, age, distance, and a brief text description—and are given two options: swipe left to “dislike” and thereby remove the profile as a potential match, or swipe right to “like.” If both users have mutually swiped right, the application allows for text communication between the two profiles to occur.

While the app can be used to find friends, Tinder is most frequently used as a dating services app. As I have swiped through profiles and read their short descriptions over the past few weeks, I have picked up on certain trends in the information users present to potential romantic and/or sexual partners. One of the most frequent descriptors used is height, revealing what many view as an important physical factor. This mark of importance ranges from implicit, such as simply listing one’s height, to extremely explicit, in which I’ve seen a profile’s description read, “Do not swipe right if you are under 5’10”.”

A recent national study showed that 48.9% of the heterosexual women surveyed wanted to only date men taller than them (Yancey & Emerson 62). Height preference was important to the heterosexual men surveyed as well, but not as important, with 1.3% wanting to only date women taller than them and 13.5% wanting to only date women shorter than them.

Height is clearly an important characteristic when it comes to choosing a partner, yet there has been some debate as to whether this is due to biological tendencies (evolutionary perspective) or social expectations. Ultimately, these gendered-height expectations are rooted in patriarchy. The women surveyed in the study often listed protection and security as reasons to why they prefer taller men (Yancey & Emerson 62). Others stated that a taller man made them feel more “feminine.” The men surveyed in the study who set upper limits for height were “not considering physical or sexual difficulties but societal expectations” (Yancey & Emerson 66). These men did not explicitly speak on traditional gender roles, but they did convey a desire to avoid possible stigma. Men were “reinforcing societal expectations with their higher height limit just as women reinforced those expectations with their lower height limit” (Yancey & Emerson 66).

Like many gender norms, height expectations have the harshest impact on the transgender community. Height dysphoria, an invasive dissatisfaction and discomfort with one’s height, is a frequently seen dilemma among online transgender support forums. Height is very difficult to amend, and because it is wrongfully associated with masculinity and femininity, transgender individuals suffer greatly. Posts in these online forums express a sense of futility. While it can be achievable to possess societally-deemed masculine traits such as hair growth, muscular strength, and body parts, height is nearly impossible to change. Some responders recommend shoes with platforms or boosters. Others simply recommend an attitude adjustment.

This attitude adjustment should not be the responsibility of the trans community, but rather those who have the privilege to actively challenge gender norms free from danger, particularly white, cis, and heterosexual individuals. It is human and understandable to have height expectations, as patriarchy is deeply embedded and can be difficult to unearth, but I ask the reader to truly consider their own expectations and from where they have been created. Just as we work to untangle the mess of patriarchy in our coursework, conversation, and minds, we must also work to distance ourselves from harmful gendered-height expectations.

Works Cited

Yancey, George, and Michael O. Emerson. “Does Height Matter? An Examination Of Height

Preferences In Romantic Coupling.” Journal Of Family Issues 37.1 (2016): 53. Publisher

Provided Full Text Searching File. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.

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As a young girl, I started undergoing puberty quite soon. It began at 8 years old to be exact, such that, without medical intervention, I could have gotten my period by age 10. Alarmed, my parents scrambled to find a solution that would both conserve my innocence and manage the unruly growth that didn’t fit the proper timeline.

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At some point in my life I was 325lbs of pure fat. This was a result of me eating too much (having a sweet tooth and loving junk food) and not working out, I did not have any health conditions that caused me to be fat. Something as little as climbing up the stairs to get to my room, would get me breathing heavily and sweating. Looking myself in the mirror was always very difficult because my man-boobs and love-handles would irritate and make me feel uncomfortable. I remember all the insults I received from some of my family members, peers, and even strangers about my weight. Some of them were being hateful and bullies, but most of them were actually just trying to help/motivate me to lose weight. It didn’t matter if they had good or bad intentions, I was always sensitive about my weight.

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One of my favorite things to talk about is gyms. Not because I’m a hardcore “gym rat” or that I consider it a hobby (more…)

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At the beginning of the semester, I had no idea what to expect to learn in this class. It took me a little while to get used to thinking about the body in different ways, but I can say that I’m glad I did. From the information I have learned in this class, I’ve been able to look at issues in the world with a different lense, and I think that is so imortant.

Because I’ve learned so much about all of these topics, I’ve actually gotten in some interesting conversations with my mom. (more…)

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Our class discussion from the other day has me thinking. How do we talk about the US’s responsibility in producing disabilities through wars abroad (both in our own veterans and in residents of the countries that serve as the battlegrounds) without implying that disabled people are undesirable or useless?

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Throughout my twenty two years on this planet, weight and food has been a majority fixture and topic of social life. There are so many diet ads that promise the key to a happy and healthy life. They insinuate that when you lose weight, you will become a totally different person.

During my eighth grade year of middle school, I lost a lot of my baby fat and experienced just how true this insinuation was. I find it sad and shallow, that it’s true. The majority of societies really do treat you differently once you look different, in their opinion, “a good way”. As soon as I went through this transformation, everyone at my school suddenly wanted to be my friend. I do not exaggerate that over the duration of two days, half my school started adding me on xanga and tagged ( social media sites that were popular in 2005 , especially for young people). It seemed as if I had become a different person or something, because I was not only accepted into the “cool crowd”, but wanted! And I could never feel very comfortable with myself, because I could not forget the fact that  my personality had not changed, only my body. Each new “friendship” that was beginning always had a sense of fakeness; the pressure to be a certain way and act a certain way. Which just made it harder to find and create genuine connections.

I don’t feel that having a desirable body is the key to happiness, but I do believe society’s shallow behavior and actions do support and shore up the social and class roles regarding fat and beauty/happiness. Unfortunately I am quite aware that with the career path I have chosen, I will be forced to come across these ideas and views constantly. As an actor, you are required to be fit (not just for scenes, but also for the strenuous exercises and movement involved).

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