When it comes to finding a life partner, it could be argued that single Asian women are ‘heightist' and single Asian men are ‘ageist'. With the Asian dating game already full of complexities and challenges, it begs the question whether it's time to take the gloves off and find a happy medium between the battle of age and height amongst men & women? If I consider my Western peers, in my experience they're just not as hung up about age and height in the same way as Asians. So how did these prejudices arise, and how are they potentially influencing your search for a partner?
In my opinion, one of the major culprits is conditioning from Asian culture. Anyone who has had an introduction via the family network, may be familiar with these words “He is a good match, he is tall and older than you" or “she is a good match, both younger and shorter, together you will look like a smart couple". Part of this mentality stems from the era of arranged marriages. Traditionally, women were married off at a young age to older men because their role was to be a mother & homemaker, whilst their husband's role was to be the breadwinner. Yet, in today's society, equality amongst the genders makes this practice outdated. So why as a generation of modern thinking Asians are we carrying this tradition into the 21st century? How can we claim to have a good East-West balance and be open-minded, when we're blindly following customs like this?
Don't get me wrong Western society is also to some extent culpable. Pick up any romantic fairytale or novel, the man is always ‘tall, dark and handsome'. Prince Charming or the romantic leads in a book are never described as ‘short/average height, dark and handsome' men. This idea is ingrained from childhood and carried through to adulthood. So is it any wonder that women grow up with a fantasy image of their ideal man being tall? Equally, as women enter adulthood and start living in the real world, as educated intelligent professionals they recognise that life and relationships are not like a fairytale. Generally speaking, things do not just fall into place, you have to put in effort and work at relationships. If you have been in a meaningful relationship in the past, what role did height play in making your relationship successful at that time? By holding onto the notion of dating only tall men, are women not just adding another obstacle in the form of a check-box to be ticked? Which, if you consider rationally, has no bearing on the makings of a happy and healthy relationship. Here is some further food for thought...
“All the men in my family are tall so I am expected to be with a tall man" - 5'2 Hindu lady
“I won't feel secure and protected, when he hugs me, if he is not tall" - 5'3 Sikh lady
“The last guy that I had a long-term relationship with, was on the short side, so this time round I am looking for someone who is at least 5'11+ in height" - 5'1 Sikh lady
These are just a few examples taken from conversations that I have personally had with women, enquiring about the personal Asian matchmaking service that we offer. I challenged them all with the following question:
“If I could introduce you to the man of your dreams but he will be a few inches shorter than your desired height, would you reject him?"
Having asked this question over the last year, I observed that on average one-third of the women were willing to compromise on height if he was a good match. One-third, would consider it reluctantly but felt that it really would be a tough pill to swallow. The remaining third categorically stated that it would still be a deal breaker, as they were not attracted to shorter men. Agreeably, attraction is an important element in the mix. Just to clarify, I am not suggesting that women should date men shorter than themselves. But surely, like most things in life isn't it about finding a happy balance? Seeking out a tall man is each woman's prerogative. But if you're not having much success, isn't it time to question the height deal breaker and start considering the average height male, who could equally be fantastic husband material?
So what is the average height of an Asian man? According to a number of reliable sources (including the BBC, ONS, Wiki) the average height of a UK male is 5'9. As this was not broken down by ethnicity, I decided to look up the average height of a male from India. It's 5'5. Whilst I'm no expert, due to climate differences, better living conditions etc in the UK, logic would dictate that Indian men in the UK would be slighter taller. Taking an average of the two, arguably it would be reasonable to conclude that 5'7 is probably the average height of an Indian male in the UK. You may disagree but the next time you're out, look out for Asian men on the tubes, shops, bars, restaurants and you'll probably discover that this estimate is not far off. So for all the single Asian females seeking tall single Asian men, you may want to reconsider the importance of a prospective partner meeting your height criteria, as potentially you're fishing in a very small pond, with far more baits than available catches...
What about Asian men, who are commonly referred to as ageist? Look out for part 2 of this article. In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts on these issues. Please feel free to comment in the box below, you can do this anonymously.Alpa Saujani
Great article, Alpa! I had no idea that the average height of a man in India was only 5'5. Maybe I should relocate there! Keep up the good work.