OMG! You’re So Much Smaller In Person

As a former TV news reporter, I know the importance of carrying a larger-than-life persona beyond the TV screen.

Projecting a tall persona when your reality comes up short.
I've spent most of my career on TV, where everyone’s the same height — a luxury not present in my daily life. I’m 4’10”…Okay. You got me! I’m really 4’9” and a half.
I blame my Portuguese grandmother, who told me to, “Never grow up.” I certainly have gotten older, but the growing thing … she won on that one. Nevertheless, my vertical fate is sealed.
And carrying that larger than life persona beyond the TV screen is where my challenge lies. I would imagine many petite, young-looking women/ women in general face a similar struggle in the business world.

I’m sure most women have heard remarks they reluctantly remember. Here are some I’ve had the pleasure of hearing, over the years.

  • OMG! You’re so much smaller in person.
  • Are you a legal midget?
  • Do you need a box to stand on behind that podium?
  • Good things come in small packages.
  • Wow! You’re short.
  • Your shoe size is so awkward.
  • How tall are you?
  • Life must be really hard for you.

What’s funny is most people who utter these words think they’re making some sort of outstanding observation that no one else has ever noticed. In truth, though, they’re all harmless. So, I just laugh it off and come up with some quick-witted remark that sends them a message.

It really all comes down to RESPECT.
It’s tough to demand it when your neck is constantly craning, you’re below peoples’ line of sight, you look like you’re too young to drink — or, in my case, you’re standing on stools, boxes or sitting on a phonebook.
All jokes aside, I’m naturally at a disadvantage.

The writer and her grandmother, a few years ago.


Let’s get back to my spicy, little Portuguese grandma … She’s shorter than me, and I’m pretty sure most people are intimidated by her.
If that’s not good enough … listen to Aretha and her 1960’s hit. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me.”
Find out what respect means to YOU. Both my grandma and Aretha are perceived as strong women who command a room … and they couldn't be more different. 
So, despite what you were naturally given — height, age, gender, attractiveness — you have to decide if you’re going to give into these uncontrollable factors or fight back.
I don’t mean literally throwing punches but figure out your own way to demand respect.
Through my years as a TV news reporter, producer, editor and director of editorial, event and custom content — I’ve been forced to figure out what works for me.

  • I like to think my extroverted, loud personality makes up for my small stature.
  • I try not to take life too seriously or take comments to heart.
  • I laugh at myself.
  • I always have a quick-witted response to “short person” jokes.
  • I make statements with conviction and confidence.
  • I hold myself and the people around me accountable.
  • I offer respect as well as command it.
  • I let my work speak for itself and strive to be the best.
  • I self-reflect to a fault — constantly trying to be better.

With that said, this is all a constant work in progress. I’m still not confident enough to wear flats in public, but I’m working on it!

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