We all have a short girl in our lives, don’t we?
Whether she’s your sister, your cousin, your friend, or your colleague, you know her.
Or better yet, she’s you. If so, hey there, sister!
The average height for Malaysian females is around 155cm. I stand quite a bit below that at 150cm, earning me the nickname ai poh (short woman) from my brother.
Well, I measured 152cm once but I’ll just take it as a rare, ‘good height day’.
(Side note: Apparently, you’re taller in the morning. Anyone ever noticed?)
Whether it’s 150cm or 152cm, I’ve long accepted I’ll never pass the five-feet mark.
And while I love embracing my height, perhaps it’s also time I embrace the very real, and unique, situations that come with it.
Here are six of the biggest pros and cons I’ve experienced as a short girl:
Con #1 – Friends often lose you in a crowd.
It might sound silly that you could actually lose track of someone but trust me, this has happened to me many times.
“Where’s Crystal?” and “Oh, there you are!” are common expressions from my friends whenever we are in a crowded place like the pasar malam or a music festival.
I could be standing right beside them and they still wouldn’t be able to see me.
Does it make me feel invisible? Just a little.
But hey, if they can’t see me, I’ll just have to be the one keeping an eye on them – or a hand – when I hold onto the back of their shirt as we manoeuvre through the sea of people.
Pro #1 – You’re always in the front row when it’s picture time.
People might not always be able to find me in person, but they will always spot me smiling right in the front of our IG snaps.
Whether it’s with friends, family, or co-workers, I’m never not seen in a group photo – because “Short people in the front!” is an unspoken rule that is almost universally recognised.
Con #2 – Everyone around you seems to be taller.
It’s a given that 92% of the people I meet are taller than me when I’m this short.
More often than not, this means I’m seen as the “anomaly” in the group. And sure, it’s made me feel a little left out before.
I can’t walk as fast as everyone, I’m always known as ‘the short one’ – you know, like the DUFF with her taller, hotter friends.
And worse, I can’t share clothes with my friends or borrow their shoes.
I have, however, learned that being the odd one out can be fun too!
When I was in high school, two of my friends and I used to joke that we were the Petronas Twin Towers, with them being the two, taller towers and me being the bridge.
Pro #2 – There’s no joy like finding someone who is the same height or shorter than you.
Being in Malaysia means I’m not alone as a short girl. There are quite a few who are in the same boat!
Once in a while, I will meet someone who’s around the same height as me, and wow, there’s no joy like it.
There’s finally someone who understands my struggles and I mean, “Yay! Can we be BFFs now so we can share closets?”
Con #3 – There are places you just can’t reach.
My boyfriend laughs whenever I have to do a little jump to hang my towel on the handle of the cabinet above my wardrobe.
Whether it’s at the library or the supermarket, or even at home, the top shelf is my worst enemy.
So I’ve trained myself to be resourceful. Any stool or table becomes a stepping stone for me as I attempt to do some sort of parkour move to get my strawberry yoghurt.
Sometimes, it’s my favourite jar of peanut butter.
If all else fails, I can always ask for help.
Pro #3 – You’re always taken care of.
Speaking of help, even though I’m older than some of my friends, being shorter somehow makes them feel like I need to be cared for.
Maybe I’m just spoilt, but sometimes, they’d cook for me at KBBQ restaurants, and other times, they’d put their arm around me when crossing the street and help me look out for cars.
For some reason, they’re always there to protect me from well, whatever it is they think might harm little ol’ me.
I’m all for being a strong, independent woman but I’m not complaining here!
Con #4 – You always have to look up when talking to people.
This can be intimidating, especially when I’m speaking to someone who’s six feet and taller.
It can feel like someone’s towering over me and trust me when I say it can get uncomfortable even when I know the person is nice and soft as a marshmallow.
So what I always do is, I move slightly, and subtly, away from them. Close enough so I can still hear them and have a good conversation, but far enough so I don’t feel like I’m Jack next to the giant.
Pro #4 – Being in the sun is not a problem.
The infinite summer of Malaysia means the burning sun is always out in the day. With a boyfriend who’s 180cm tall, I’m lucky to be gifted with easy access to the shade whenever needed.
Funny thing is, my boyfriend is more afraid of the sun than I am.
“Oh, my beautiful skin,” he’d say while scrambling to look for an umbrella.
As for me – all I need to do is squat in his shadow.
Con #5 – It’s often hard to get the full experience at concerts.
I once went to see Porter Robinson at Zouk and well, for the most part, I didn’t even see him. What I did see is the silhouette of people squashed like sardines, dancing (or trying to dance) in front of me.
Perhaps I should have taken a tip from my younger self. When I went to BEAST’s showcase many years ago, I wore these high platform sneakers that actually helped me get a better view.
Pro #5 – Piggy back rides are always an option.
While I missed most of Porter Robinson at his show, my boyfriend did give me piggy back rides so I could catch a few glimpses.
I got a good view and he got an extra workout. Tell me that’s not a win-win.
Con #6 – You can never be described as anything but “cute”
Short girls are immediately labelled as cute. I’ve always tried to defy this by arguing, “No, I’m cool!” or “Why can’t I be badass?”, to which, people would just laugh.
When I was in Uni, I wanted so bad to lose the “cute” label, I made my staple outfit a leather jacket, black jeans, and ankle boots. Finished off with red lipstick, of course.
Whether it worked, I’m not sure, but now that I’m older and no longer feel the need to prove anything, I no longer care what people think of me. You do you, right?
Pro #6 – Hey, you’re cute!
But really, I guess being called cute can’t be that bad.
At least I’ll always have that going on for me!
Are you a short girl? Let us know what your experience is like in the comments!
For more articles on positive ways to handle one’s self-image, read Here Are 4 Malaysians Who Overcame Body Shaming. These Are Their Stories and I Suffered From Severe Eczema. This is How I Developed Self-Confidence.