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Standing Small

I’m always the go-to practice dummy for lifts and tricks in dance rehearsal. Growing up, the other kids always wanted to pick me up because I was light and huggable. And if you think I have any option but the back middle seat in a full car ride, you’re wrong.

I get it, I’m small. I’ve been called “cute” and “sweetheart” for as long as I can remember and probably will be for the rest of my life. While sometimes it’s endearing or sweet, sometimes it’s just

annoying. Can’t you take me seriously?

As a 5’1” female, I’m reminded nearly daily of my definition of space. I can shapeshift and squeeze into new spaces and situations very easily. But even so, sometimes I feel cramped in my airline seat, even though I don’t take up all of it. During a summer in New York City, I crammed in on the subway every morning on the 6 line to Midtown Manhattan. Things got cozy, and I definitely got bumped and smushed, especially when people weren’t 100 percent certain I was there.

Don’t get me wrong, I can weave in and out of crowds with less effort than most people, but the fact that I don’t take up much space at all often entices people to further encroach the space that I do have. This happens in line at the store, at concerts, and in planes, trains and automobiles.

Time and time again, I’ve seen BuzzFeed or Odyssey articles about short girls that tell you some of the advantages of your size that include free piggy back rides (I’ll admit it, I still enjoy those every once in a while) and spending less money on clothes and accessories (you bet I still shop in the kid’s section for sneakers and Vans).

But then there are always those bullet points like “nobody feels threatened,” “enjoy the shadow of tall people” and “people are always willing to carry things for you because they assume you’re too short to do it yourself.”

I don’t want people in my life to feel threatened. However, if I want to be an editor-in-chief someday and command the attention of a room, I do need people to take me seriously. What I gather from articles like these and the general consensus on shorties, is that we aren’t taken quite as seriously and are seen as less independent. Several studies have even shown that shorter people typically get paid less than taller ones.

People of a smaller stature are often underestimated. Maybe it’s that we remind people of a Chihuahua or, as one of my friends so fondly calls me, a bonsai tree.

I don’t fill a space physically like some people do. But instead of viewing it as a weakness, I count it as a strength.

From the time I was a kid until this day, my mom has always told me I am “tiny but mighty.” A small, headstrong woman can go a long way, and she never stops surprising people.

Whatever space it is that you take up, own it and don’t let anyone ever tell you how big or small it is.

Don’t let someone tell you that you’re too heavy to model or play a certain sport. Don’t let someone tell you you’re too tall to wear heels. Never let anyone tell you what’s normal or expected.

When we start doing that, the world changes.