We all say to not judge a book by its cover, that the inside matters more than the outside, that first impressions should be on character, not appearance. I always wish these statements worked in my favor.
It took a lot of time for me to learn how to not be insecure about my height, and I’m admittedly still grappling with it. The sinking feeling whenever someone points me out for being short, bringing it to my attention as though I am not aware, is always unnerving and unsettling. Interestingly, it isn’t necessarily the fact of being short that bothers me so much – I mean, I make jokes about my height all the time with friends, and there are times when it is a lot of fun being short; but what is hard is that this impression would lead to other associations, and often my most feared one of underestimation.
Being short has made me seem younger in age and mentality, lower in my capabilities, treated as someone of the age I look like, not the age I am or the ability level I have. It really does take work – mostly through conversation and dialogue – for this impression to be broken down and for me to reach a point where me being short is no longer the first thing that comes to mind when people think about me, or what defines how they treat and interact with me. Through a lot of reflection, I’ve found that this insecurity is not just about my height, and it never will be. It will always be the collective impressions that come with my appearance – truly an instance of judgment of a book by its cover.
When I introduce myself to someone, I’m not saying, “Hello, my name is [blank], and I am a short person.” I’m saying “Hello, my name is [blank], and I am ” a photographer, copy editor, class representative, Model UN lover, science enthusiast, fellow classmate, human being who is not to be treated lower, literally or figuratively.
When I meet someone new, my objective is to meet him or her through conversation, dialogue, exchange of ideas, and understanding of character, and never anything else. I just always hope that the effort is reciprocated whenever someone new meets me.