Let's get this straight: I am, by no means, a dating snob.
As a single girl in my twenties, I see dating as a fun foray to get to know yourself and meet interesting people with similar interests and different personalities. It's a chance to see yourself in a variety of situations, while also remaining safe and smart. And for full disclosure: I'm at an average 5'3.
For this Unpopular Opinion, it must be proclaimed: Short king summer is here.
Popularized by Tom Holland and Zendaya, their two-inch height difference is no huge gap, but their virality has made fans gush everywhere. With the two being open about their chemistry, a number of American media outlets have dubbed this season as "short king spring."
What is a short king exactly?
The online term is essentially one for men who are shorter than the average height of their peers, though that doesn't stop them from dating the women they like.
In a similar wave, Urban Dictionary defines it as "a term of endearment for men under 5’9." It's said to have originated in 2018, with viral tweets and posts about the term cropping up online since.
Twitter user and actor Lizz Adams—who stands at 5'11"—was one of the first to share her experiences with her 5’5” husband.
Happily married to my 5’5” king for 8 years while y’all are getting ghosted by 6’2” alcoholics with 7th grade reading levels but go off about how you only date tall men I guess pic.twitter.com/WzUL7ywk8F— Lizz Adams (@Lizz) December 13, 2019
Tom Holland's 5'8" height is already a tall order for Filipinos, but it can be noted that Zendaya previously dated Euphoria co-star Jacob Elordi, who stands at a towering 6'4". Other celebrity examples include Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner as well as George and Amal Clooney.
Calling someone a "short king" is essentially relative, but the premise remains: they're shorter, confident, and a lot of fun to date.
Besides the Hollywood allure of short king summer, studies have found that shorter men actually make for better partners. In a 2014 New York University study by sociologist Dalton Conley and Abigail Weitzman, the pair found that shorter men (5’7" and under) make for more long-lasting boyfriends and husbands compared to their taller counterparts.
They also apparently contribute to a greater share of housework and be breadwinners for their families, ultimately creating strong relationship dynamics.
Unfortunately, the study also found that shorter men were less likely to marry.
"Short men may have a harder time getting married because they’re viewed as less masculine," Weitzman said. "Women who have traditional gender ideals may find that less desirable."
It isn't just in the evolutionary practice of finding a more "suitable" mate though, it has something to do with the societal expectations. A 2007 study found that, across kindergarten classrooms, teachers perceive boys who are shorter than their peers as less academically capable. More studies have also found that tall men are more likely to have more romantic partners and success in their careers.
Does this mean that short men are doomed to play second fiddle to taller men forever? The answer, of course, is no. While these studies show a lot of insight into dating patterns in Western areas, the conversation differs in an Asian country like the Philippines.
The Filipino gene
It goes without saying that Filipinos are on the shorter end of the height spectrum when it comes to international standards. According to World Atlas, Filipinos of both genders stand at an average of 5'1", placing us third in the list of countries with the shortest average height next to Indonesia and Bolivia. Meanwhile, World Population Review places the country's average height at 163cm or 5'3".
From the abundance of multivitamins promising to boost children's heights to basketball remaining a staple favorite, height, or the lack of it plays a huge hand in how we see ourselves. But in the dating game, the conversation shifts into: "whose standards are we placing our potential partners?"
Whose standards are we placing our potential partners?
When your mass media and internet consumption puts Western standards at the forefront, you're bound to be unhappy with what's in front of you — or even below you.
While researching for this piece, I also found that it's more commonplace and celebrated for Filipinas like myself to seek out taller men to date. In the discussion of height gaps for Filipino celebrities, all examples were that of the men being taller. Again, it's only human nature.
Dating based on preference, not prejudice
At the end of the day, whether it's short king summer or tall king tropical, your preference will depend on what you like, but there's a world waiting if you're willing to step out of your comfort zone.
I used to actively avoid men shorter than me out of fear that I won't feel protected or taken care of in the relationship, but in reality, it all depends on the type of person you're willing to meet. When I started to see people for who they are, shorter men proved that they're better at planning dates and initiating that first step in dating.
Taller guys, with their evolutionary advantage in place, have seemed more nonchalant and cold in the dating pool based on my experience— which is something I've found I'm not interested in at all. Again, your standards are still your standards.
Though I found myself changing my type to include shorter men, it doesn't fly when we no longer share the same values and intentions.
Short king summer is essentially the culmination of a generation sick of societal standards and uplifting those who have long been deemed undateable. It's a call for the dating pool to expand just a little bit more as it should.
If the vibe is right, your beliefs click, and the stars align, why not go after the person who's just a little bit different than what you're used to, or what others expect from you?
If the vibe is right, your beliefs click, and the stars align, why not go after the person who's just a little bit different than what you're used to, or what others expect from you? For the short kings out there, take the chance on a taller girl as well. Life may just surprise you.
This short king summer, it's time to see people not for how tall they stand, but for what they actually stand for.