Tom Shakespeare

Finding myself unaccountably single, and dissatisfied with that state of affairs, last month I decided to do what all middle aged middle class people do, and advertise. The website was quite particular. Lots of questions about interests and desires. I was about to put myself out there when a question arose. What to say about disability? Would it be a turn-off to admit that not only did I have dwarfism, but that I am also now in a wheelchair? Could a date with a cripple possibly appear attractive?

I could withhold the truth, only to disappoint later. Or I could come clean, and risk no responses at all. In the end, I was frankly coy. My slogan was “different, but in a good way”, and from my photographs it was clear that I had a disability. I didn’t answer the question about height.

Then I looked at the ladies advertisements, and immediately something rather depressing became apparent. Everyone’s desire was to meet someone tall. I am not exaggerating. However tall they were themselves, each was adamant that their referred date should be taller than them.

This must be a deep-seated preference. Perhaps there is an evolutionary explanation. Regardless of the wit, wealth, intelligence or other charms of the short statured, we are doomed to lose out to the lanky.

But in everyday life, does height matter so much? If your companion was charming and clever company, would you whip out the tape measure? In the modern world, where no one needs to be protected from sabre-toothed tigers, one would hope physique would count for less.

I take consolation in the fact that admitting disability is a good sorting device. When people are still interested, despite your difference, you know they must be good souls who can see past the exterior to appreciate the deeper qualities of an individual.