The Height of Things

There isn’t a holiday in existence for which I can’t find some cranky-ass detail to dislike about it.  Mother’s day is no exception.  My lack of sentimentality is well established.  If I was an important person it would be legendary, but as I’m not, it’s merely irritating.  I’m feeling charged with the magnanimous air of spring and have decided not to tell any of you my thoughts on this up coming holiday which I don’t dislike but about which I have some predictable complaints.  I am tucking them in a tender hand-tatted handkerchief where you will not trip over them.  Unless you are on facebook, where I already let the acid drip a little.  That can’t be helped.  I’m tucking it all away now.

I have recently become height obsessed.  I suppose I always have been, what with my old teenage wish to be 6’3″ tall, but it’s become very focused now on famous people.  I just can’t get over how a man like Jon Stewart can appear so tall to me and yet only be 5’6″.  My perception of people’s height seems to be always a little skewed.  I feel like a tall person but I’m only 5’7″ (and shrinking), my brother thinks he’s taller than me but when we had Philip decide the issue it turns out we’re the exact same height.  I am fascinated how some people who are very tall appear average until standing right next to a much shorter person.  This slight obsession is finding its feet in my television watching.  I now look up actors’ heights constantly.  IMBD nearly always lists their height if a height is known.

I imagined that Mathew Macfadyen was tall but it wasn’t until I saw him in Little Dorrit next to Claire Foy that I had to wonder if he was crazy tall or if she was crazy short.  I couldn’t find anything on Foy but Macfadyen is 6’3″ so even if Foy was average she’d appear quite short, still, the scene near the end where he picks her up and kisses her?  She looks like a mere child (slightly disturbing) so I think she must be quite short.  Why does it matter?

It doesn’t matter one tiny little bit.  But aren’t you happy not to come here and have your brain taxed for once or your conscience prodded or your reason questioned?  The question of height has zero importance.  All heights of people are interesting and I don’t see any heights as bad.  That’s very boring of me.  So it isn’t a question of ideal heights or heights I prefer but is simply my fascination how tall people can appear average or short and short people appear average or tall all depending on their surroundings, the people they’re standing next to, and what perspective your eye is allowed to see them in.

I am also fascinated with the idea that Americans are generally super tall people and English people are more average yet many of the English actors I most enjoy are quite tall.  Rupert Penry-Jones is 6’2″, Richard Armitage is 6’2″, Lawrence Fox is 6’3″ and there is one I’m forgetting right now who is 6’4″.  That’s a lot of tall people.  But if you suddenly see a person who is 6’5″ all those men seem sort of average.  But then there’s Jon Stewart who calls himself a small man, which I thought was just his little joke for a long time, or until he stood up next to Liam Neeson (6’4″), and then I had to find out if Stewart really is short or what.  He is.  Reports vary between 5’6″ and 5’7″.  I think he has a tall personality.  Then there’s Tim Roth, who I love, and he’s only 5’7″ too.  My height.

What does it mean?  What are my conclusions?  Nothing and none.  Except that I can’t stop looking people’s heights up.  I’ve mostly been mentioning men here and I suppose I am more fascinated with men’s respective heights than women’s because in general* there is less wide variation in women’s heights.  There are very very tall women, of course, but it’s more unusual.  But lest you think I’m sexist, I actually have looked up quite a few women actor’s heights as well.  I love Hermione Norris so I looked her height up, she’s 5’7″, pretty average, but I actually thought she looked much taller.  Heels will do that, of course.  Keely Hawes (who is married to Mathew Macfadyen) is fairly tall at 5’10” but appears much shorter to me than another of the costars on MI-5, Miranda Raison, who is actually 4″ shorter than Keely at 5’6″.

And lastly, Nadia, my mom’s dog (pictured above), is quite tall and makes my medium sized dog look very small in comparison.

This also is meaningless but curious.

*Generalities being what they are.


  1. Aimee says:

    Jon Stewart and I are the same height. I like having something in common with him.

    The men in Jason’s family are so tall. He’s the shorty of the bunch at 6’0″, whereas I grew up with a 5’10” (and a half, mustn’t forget the half!) dad. I’ve always been interested to see how tall the boys grow up to be. I’m fascinated by the fact that this tiny infant I had so early will one day probably be able to pick me up.

  2. angelina says:

    Grace- I’m not surprised, even though I often feel tall I did not feel tall standing near you. You carry your height with such poise! Nadia is not only gorgeous- she’s a licensed therapy dog! She casts my poor misbehaving Chick into the shade!

    Aimee- I agree- it’s such a trip to think about how little boys can grow up to dwarf their mothers. My family is completely medium heighted, not a tall man or woman in it. (That I know of). Not many real short people in it either. Philip’s family is mostly medium heighted with a few tall people sort of randomly sprinkled in. Right now Max is a little tall for his age but I trip out that he could totally stop growing at any time! (Not likely at ten years old, but still, you just can’t know until they’re completely grown up.)

  3. angelina says:

    About Jon Stewart- I’m glad you have something in common with him! I figured out something I had in common with him too but now I can’t remember.

  4. Ann says:

    Ha, nothing threatening or uncomfortable in this post.

    I am 5’11”, my husband G is 6’4″, and our 19 year old son E is 6’5″. I always wanted to be 6′. A nice round number, but there it is.

    Rupert Penry-Jones is very nice. Have you seen Whitechapel?

  5. angelina says:

    I haven’t seen Whitechaple but I’ll look it up. Does it have Penry-Jones in it? (Definitely very nice!) Although I’ve never seen a picture of you besides your profile picture which is just head and shoulders, I somehow did imagine you were tall-ish. I didn’t imagine you were almost 6′- I’m sorry you didn’t make the round number but I think 5’11” must be a pretty nice height to be at.

  6. angelina says:

    Hi Cynthia! Ha- now you’ve outed your secret! I’m glad I’m not the only one who does this. I have actually paused a show that my mom and I are watching to run upstairs to my laptop and look up someone’s height cause I want to know while watching them.

  7. Ann says:

    Oh yeah, it has him in it. It’s a new show in England. I saw it on YouTube. I’ll find a link (below) Excellent and very nice, indeedy!

    Thanks for commiserating about not being the big 6′. Yes, nice to be tall… never been anything else, so why not be happy about it. It is hard to wear heels, and when I was young I was often mistaken for a man. Not very flattering to a young woman.

  8. angelina says:

    When I was in 7th grade I got myself a nice David Bowie inspired haircut and the first time I walked into the girls locker room a bunch of girls thought I was a boy so I can commiserate on what that’s like! What charms me about tall women is that they can appear so majestic with so little effort- and NOT in a masculine way- this effect is completely enhanced when a woman actually enjoys her own tallness.

    Height is something I actually thought about when creating characters. I purposely made Cricket medium height. It seems that so many heroines are either diminutive and feisty, or really tall and (presumably) sexy… then I made a minor character that I LOVE who is 6′ tall who Cricket is completely mesmerized by.

  9. Ann says:

    I think the way one carries oneself is definitely important. And I do enjoy being tall, for the record. But, just that once inch more…

    I’m rather excited about reading this book of yours. No pressure… Funny that…either very tall or tiny. I like the medium height distinction. As if only tiny or tall women have the sexy advantage. Maybe the advantage of high cupboards or of finding things under couches, but sexiness…I think that is an across the board kinda thing.

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