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It’s Time to Stop Ignoring Short Male Models

The traditional idea of what it means to be a model is in question. Brands are becoming more inclusive, hiring models of different sizes, ages, abilities and backgrounds. But short male models are getting the short end of the stick, being ignored in favour of taller models. Studies have shown that height correlates with perceptions of masculinity. It’s time we challenge this perception. The acting industry is miles ahead with stars like Zac Efron (5’8″), Mark Wahlberg (5’7″) and Daniel Radcliffe (5’4″) all proving that height is not a factor for success. When will the fashion industry follow suit?

By Elizabeth Harrington

Feature image source: esquire.co.uk

Can male models be petite?

Bruno Mars 5’5″

Image source: pinterest.com.au

Petite models are, by default, women. To call a man “petite” is considered emasculating, as the word is associated with femininity and daintiness. So we call them “short” male models. Short male models are generally under 5’10” (177.8 cm). Considering that the average height in Australia is 5’9” (175.6 cm), it seems unreasonable to call these models short

It’s no secret that modelling favours the tall. There’s a belief that clothes look better on taller frames, so traditionally, petite models have been confined to commercial and beauty-based work, where height is of less importance. However, this belief is changing. Petite female models are being cast in more runway shows and editorials than ever before—so why is this not the case for men? 

Kit Harington 5’8″

Image source: tomandlorenzo.com

There is a deep-rooted bias against short men

Tom Hardy 5’9″

Image source: esquire.com

There is an ingrained stigma associated with being short that pervades many aspects of society. Studies have shown that short men experience prejudice in many ways. In the workplace, the taller a man is, the more his annual income increases. There’s also a belief that shorter men have less leadership qualities because people associate height with power. In the US, most CEOs are over 6ft and it’s been found that voters prefer taller presidential candidates

These common perceptions can lead shorter men to feelings of insecurity and inferiority. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Instead of focusing on physical strengths to ‘be a man’, we should focus on values like inner strength, courage and determination. These are values everyone can aspire to regardless of height or even gender. 

Kevin Hart 5’2″

Image source: pinterest.com.au

The lack of short male models affects consumers, too

Dave Franco 5’7″

Image source: tumblr.com

The modelling industry’s height discrimination trickles down to consumers. While mainstream brands have lines catering for petite women, there are none specifically marketed towards shorter men. What’s the problem here? Even if the clothes suit all body types, they are usually modelled by taller men. What this means for consumers is that it’s harder to imagine what these clothes look like on themselves, making the shopping experience more of a hassle. 

Shorter men are an untapped market. But there’s hope that this will change. More brands are creating plus-size male clothing lines and are making an effort to use models of different sizes and backgrounds. As brands recognise the importance of representation, it’s only a matter of time before short male models will be included too.

Oscar Isaac 5’9″

Image source: esquire.com

Not all industries are so exclusive

Zac Efron 5’8″

Image source: mensjournal.com

In other media industries, height is less of an issue. In film and television, male actors have a diverse range of heights. Most of Forbe’s top earning actors of 2015 are under 5’10”, including Robert Downey Jr. at 5’7” and Adam Sandler at 5’8”. While some short actors often portray stereotypes like the comedic sidekick, there are plenty who play the hearthrob and leading man, such as Zac Efron, Daniel Radcliffe, Tom Hardy and James McAvoy. 

Actors aren’t modelling clothes, they’re telling stories. While beauty sometimes plays a factor in many casting choices, it’s less important on screen. What matters is talent and ambition—none of which require you to be tall. 

Daniel Radcliffe 5’4″

Image source: pinterest.com.au

Some short male models are fighting back

Aaron Frew 5’7″

Image source: boysbygirls.co.uk

In an industry traditionally dominated by women, it’s hard enough being a tall male model. Short male models have to work even harder. But there are many who are rising up to the task. 

At 5’7″, Aaron Frew is breaking stereotypes and paving the way for other short male models. It has been a tough journey for Aaron, who at the beginning of his career faced rejection after rejection. But he’s made it out on top, working for the likes of Vogue and Calvin Klein. 

Swedish model and actor Andreas Wilson is another beacon of hope. Standing at 5’6″ he’s modelled for brands like Abercrombie & Fitch. Hollywood stars Mark Wahlberg and Tom Hardy also got their starts as short male models. Hardy won a modelling competition at age 21 before switching to acting, while Wahlberg booked jobs such as the infamous Calvin Klein ad with Kate Moss. 

It’s only recently that the fashion industry recognised the beauty of brawn, so the future for short male models is hopeful. The more we speak up about this, the more the fashion industry has no choice but to listen. The film industry is proving that you don’t have to be 6 feet tall to be a leading man, so it’s just a matter of time before the fashion industry does the same. 

Mark Wahlberg 5’7″

Image source: pinterest.com.au

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