I had never been self-conscious of height until I stopped growing in fifth grade (I blame it on the coffee machine left out at the parent-teacher conference because after that first sip, my growth was forever stunted.). Standing at 5 feet at the age of 10, I hated being shoved at the back of each class picture.
At this point, I should mention that I attended an all-Asian school. Context shifted, right? It’s no surprise that we’ve been conditioned to “down-size” anything with the word “Asian,” just like any other stereotype. Even Obama’s aware of it (see his comment on his Hawaiian basketball teammates.) Which is probably why we get carded all the time.
It wasn’t until I transferred to an all-white school it became an obligation for me to be positioned in the front during grade picture time. Due to my now lack of height, I felt constantly pressured to prove myself. I, frustrated, chugged a gallon of milk in two days — despite my genetically Asian lactose intolerance. I begged my mother to purchase growth pills. However, I’d decided I had enough after being called “cute” by a waitress who thought I was sixteen — on my 18th birthday.
It was only in places teeming with Asians that I didn’t stand out; just average. But only out of that world did I feel extremely small and out of place. Why do we assume that the taller, the older you are? Oh, how America — the land of diversity — molds your brain to assimilate.
Over the years, I’ve come to terms with my height insecurities. Most of all, I’ve learned that everything is a matter of perception. Besides, there’s no point in laying the blame on my genes (although I do resent the fact that I have to limit my intake of ice cream.)
So to all my “shorties” out there, take the term as a compliment. And remember, you’ll feel much better in the future when you’ve reached fifty and charmingly deceive the world looking 10 years younger — gracefully.
About Vannie: I’m a 20-year old Taiwanese-American female residing in New York City. I like to call myself an AAA (Aspiring Asian-American Activist.)
(Image source — with apologies — to zomgxgrace)