Tall Women or Short Women – Which Do Men Prefer?

A friend and I were discussing this very issue today while having lunch in an outdoor cafe. We decided to count couples and see how many had a taller man and shorter woman, and how many had a shorter man and taller woman.

There were over 20 couples and all of them was of a taller man with a shorter woman.

This is all fine and good but not very scientific. What does science say about this important issue?

study by Gillis and Avis in 1980 found that for every 100 couples, only 2 are likely to have a taller woman and shorter man. This suggests that in general, men tend to choose women who are shorter than they are and/or women choose men who are taller than they are.

Do Men Really Like Shorter Women?

The Gillis and Avis study shows that couples very frequently consist of a taller man together with a shorter woman.

However, this does not necessarily mean that men like shorter girls. In fact, one can argue that the height preference largely comes from the woman’s side. Perhaps the man has no height preference, but simply dates shorter women because shorter women find them more attractive.

To get a more comprehensive view of this tall vs. short women issue, I also examined data from Yahoo Answers!. In particular, I did a search for “tall vs. short women” questions.

I collected a total of 54 responses over about 20 related questions. 29 of the responses were from men, and 25 from women. Of the men,

  • 52% said that they like shorter women,
  • 31% said that height is not an issue, and
  • only 17% said that they like tall women.

These figures seem consistent with the results of my Attractive Women Survey which showed that only 19% of voters like tall women.

Of the women,

  • 24% said that men like shorter women,
  • 36% said that height is not an issue,
  • 40% said that men like tall women.

What is especially interesting about the Yahoo! Answers data is that the woman’s view differs so greatly from the man’s view. Upon greater examination though, we found that of the 10 women who claimed that men prefer taller women, 7 were 5’8”-5’9”, and 1 was 5’5”. Therefore, the relatively small data-set and abnormal height distribution of respondents likely skewed the results.

Data from more rigorous scientific studies also support the hypothesis that men have a preference for shorter women.

“We found that shorter, slimmer females with long slender legs, a curvy figure and larger breasts are more attractive,” said lead researcher Dr William Brown of Brunel University.

~~[The Telegraph]

Nettle’s study on 10,000 people born in the UK in 1958 also showed that –

Shorter women are more likely to have long-term relationships with men, and more likely to have children …

~~[New Scientist]

Why Do Men Like Shorter Women?

Most female models are very tall. Based on this female ideal, it seems that all of us have a preference for the tall, thin, and willowy look.

Therefore, why does the survey and scientific results show that men like shorter women? It seems that here, at least, there is an inconsistency between the media feminine ideal and our real-world feminine ideal.

Certainly tall women have the following advantages –

  • Clothes fall and drape more naturally on taller women.
  • Tall women can handle extra weight much better than shorter women.
  • Tall women get noticed more easily because they naturally stand out in a crowd.

All of these attributes make taller women especially suited for the modelling profession. We want models to stand out from the crowd and we want them to look especially good in a wide range of dress styles.

However, a woman’s greater height becomes more of a liability during mate selection because height is often associated with strength and power. These are traditionally traits that are highly regarded in men but less so in women. A tall woman may therefore have an emasculating effect on a shorter man.

In addition, while women frequently select mates based on strength, success, and power; men are more likely to select mates based on fertility. Nettle further pointed out that –

… girls with late sexual maturity will be taller than those who mature early, because they are growing for longer.

~~[Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biological Sciences]

According to Nettle, taller women become fertile at a later date when compared to their shorter counterparts. This could also be another contributing factor to a man’s preference for shorter women.

Don’t Men Want Tall Sons?

What’s strange is that I would like to be taller and I would like my future son(s) to be taller. So it would really make more sense to choose a tall mate with genes that will produce a son who is tall. And yet I’m attracted to short women.

~~[Yahoo! Answers]

Another related factor to this tall vs. short women question is the height of our resulting children. If men do indeed select based on fertility, it seems that part of that fertility question would involve the strength and power of the resulting offspring. As was pointed out in the comment above, selection of a taller woman would increase the chances of producing a taller son.

However, based on all the data it seems that the attributes of our offspring are less significant than the social effects of having a taller female spouse, as well as possible maturity issues as related to height.

Are Tall Women Out of Luck?

Finally, it should also be mentioned that height selection and preference is a relative thing.

Most men like women that are shorter than they are and most women like men that are taller than they are. Men who are over 6 feet tall will have less problems dating tall women because they will still be the taller one in the relationship.

However, the distribution of heights for men and women follow the usual bell-curve shape. This suggests that tall women will have a smaller selection of men to choose from.

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Comments

  1. Girl7171 says

    Im 5’3″ and in my country avg height of women is 5’1 something, so short means below 5′ so only 3-4 girls are taller than me in my class. In contrast guyz seem to be vry tall, most of them are above 5’8 and lot of them are above 6′.

  2. Tyishanna Holder says

    hi everyone…. im 15 and im 5’8…..i hated my height so much and wished i were shorter because all my friends were shorter an they had no problem getting boyfriends….i however was always taller than most boys my age an never had a boyfriend…i wa always insecure about it an didnt considere myself beautiful… i change the way i look at myself because if i dont love myself the way i am then who will??…..ive learned to love myself the way i am and be proud in my own skin…an some day in d future i would find the ONE!!

  3. Jonathan says

    I’m a shorter than average guy, and i would do anything to be with a woman who is taller than me.

    however, there is something to be said for a well proportioned, but miniature lady – rappers don’t call em shawties for nothin. a smaller woman is more easily perceived as a plaything, and what sane guy doesn’t like a new toy to play with?especially if she wants to play with him..

  4. anya says

    I can say the fertility/puberty thing was not true for me. I am almost 6ft, and i started my period when i was 11. Which means i have been dealing with aunt flo and her montlhy visits 10 years now. Ugh.

    As a tall woman, I prefer tall men. I had a shorter boyfriend once and my oh my how they laughed :-( and my man who was 6’7 and a rugby player I still dream about. Even if he was a turd! Hahah.

    • jana says

      I have to agree with you! I am 15 and 5ft and have barely grown since i was 12 however mother nature made sure she blessed me each month for the past 4yrs haha. Puberty hasn’t been good to me i seem to blessed with all the teenage curses but unfortunately have barely grown for years, just my luck!!

  5. js says

    I’m between 5.1 and 5.2 and my boy friend is 6.2. He is very good looking too, but he’s always been dating short girls. Two if his recent ex’s where shorter than me.

    He’s also not into skinny girls. I sometimes wonder why he’s not into tall girls? He likes short curvy women with long hair :)

  6. Belle says

    To be honest, i think no guy likes shorter girls. They just like girls shortER then them, so it often gets mistaken. Because honestly who doesnt want a tall, long legged, petite, graceful feminine woman as long as they are shorter than the man. I for one if i was a man wouldnt want a short chunky child with stumpy thunder thigh legs for a girlfriend.

    • Anonymous says

      I am a average height man and have no hang ups at all about height, but as a builder and regular pub goer a lot of chat with the lads is about girls and whilst some men prefer tall girls and some prefer small it is easy to notice that smaller petite pretty girls get far more attention than their counterparts and we definitely talk about them more. sorry to burst the bubble of the taller girls but whilst you are very desirable to a lot of men most of us prefer the attractive petite lady.

  7. Angelguts says

    I thought the bit about tall girls getting periods later was off. Granted I’m sure it may be true statically but, on my own anecdotal basis, I got mine at 11 (5’10 and 3/4″over here)*. Also I’m not sure the when you get your period thing as being relevant since most all women (assuming no problems) have most likely started menstruating by 16.

    *Sidebar: I’ve made the observation that if I was male I’d probably just round my height up to 5’11”. As a female I usually round that down to 5’10”. Heck, I’ve had men try and say i must be taller in an effort to fudge their own heights.

    When i was younger, i did wish I was shorter because shorter girls sometimes seem to be doted on more by society (seen as helpless) whereas my height must convey an air of competence and just not needing assistance. But I’m sure the big drawback for shorter women or even women of average height is they probably feel it as more being patronized by men rather than pampering.

    I also feel my height has put me outside normal gender roles in the sense that I never got the memo that I was supposed to hide my intelligence/knowledge/defer to the man’s opinion if I either knew better or disagreed. In that regard I know my personality is a bit off putting for that reason and can make men feel uncomfortable. But i encountered enough men (after high school) who found that alluring enough so I never saw the need to change.

    I will say though to any woman that the only really strange but true fact in this world is whether tall or short, fat or thin, big chest or small, smart or dumb, normal or abnormal, there is someone who will find it to be a turn on.

    • Anonymous says

      I think it does happen though. I mean I’m 17, 5’11” and I started my period not too long ago.

  8. Anonymous says

    I’m 15 and I’m 6’1 tall with a VERY athletic build (broad shoulders, 6’5 armspan, long legs with “thunder thighs”, and practically no chest) and weigh 160 lbs.
    I’m going to be a sophomore this coming year and all of the boys still haven’t completely matured so I’m still tied for the tallest kid in my grade (but hopefully that will change over the summer).
    But I wouldn’t be the same person I am today if I wasn’t tall.
    When I was young I was always tall (I was 4’11 in third grade and I grew eight inches in a year, resulting in me being 5’7 in FOURTH GRADE) so people generally thought I was older, making me more mature than all my friends. Even to this day I’m more mature than everyone in my grade, so the majority of my friends are older than me. Which, gives me plenty of oppurtunities to hang out (and date) older guys. So that is one plus to being tall.
    And tall girls have advantages in almost every sport, except maybe horse racing or gymnastics. I play basketball, swim team, tack & field, and soccer. So, the volleyball coach is always hounding me to play. But, because I grew that eight inches in a year, I have horrible knee problems (I’ve dislocated both knees at least three times, have arthrits in both knees, have this weird bone inflamation/fluid pouch below my left knee, and have had surgery twice on my right knee) and playing volleyball probably wouldn’t benefit me in the long run. So that’s a downside to being tall.
    Another downside to being tall though is with my height, comes my huge feet and hands. My fingers are really long and my middle finger alone is (I kid you not) 5 inches long, so that makes holding hands awkward. I also wear a size 14 shoe but I’m not going to go too much into that other than that I wear a lot of Men’s shoes and have to do a lot of special ordering.
    So, there’s a lot of good things and bad things about being tall, but no matter your height, you should be confident and make it work.

  9. Pixie says

    I’m 5’7″ and my boyfriend is 5’8″. Before me he only dated shorter girls, anything 5’3″ and below. He said he was attracted to shorter girls but he never made any of them his girlfriend, I’m his first and only real girlfriend. So, maybe it really doesn’t matter what height someone is. Maybe guys just like the girl for who she is, not her height. I know I personally don’t care how tall or short a guy is. The shortest guy I’ve ever dated was 5’4″ and the tallest was 6’4″. In my opinion, some positions were very uncomfortable with a taller guy. But when I was younger I used to wish I was shorter because I always thought short girls were cuter. Now I’m happy with myself and height.

    • Genevieve says

      I think we all wish we were different in some way. I’m 4’11 and always wanted to be tall. Now I finally am happy with myself now that I’m 22. We all just have to work with what weve got. :)

  10. Max says

    Part of the height issue between men and women may also be partially mathematical. 2/3rds of the male population are 5’8 (173cm) or taller, and 2/3rds of the female population are 5’7 (170cm) or shorter. In a random pairing, most of the couplings would have a taller man and a shorter woman. I’m not saying the sociological or psychological factors don’t contribute, but I do think the mathematical reasoning should not be ignored.

  11. Lilly says

    You can’t change your height, but you can change your perspective.

    I’m seeing comments from tall women that say they have trouble attracting any men, then comments from other tall women saying they get a lots of attention. Perhaps height isn’t the sole reason a man would or wouldn’t be attracted to you? There are many short women who have trouble attracting men, too. And then there are tall men who have trouble attracting women. And short men who get lots of girlfriends.

    If you think height is the only thing you having going for you, or against you, you need a closer look in the mirror. I’m not just referring to your appearance.

    Btw, I’m a 5’6 woman, so I don’t know what it’s like to be on the extreme ends of the height spectrum. I haven’t had the best luck with men because of my shy, sometimes awkard personality. The current guy I’m dating says he likes that I’m skinny. No mention of my height, though.

    Not saying “height doesn’t matter”, but if you find yourself being rejected, you can’t simply blaim your height. Lots of tall women and short men have successful relationships.

    Anyway, why would you want to be constantly oogled by creeps? A successful relationship is not a shallow one.

  12. Heavenly says

    Hey,I think height has little to do with it, it’s all about who’s attractive and who’s not. Short girls have an easier time being attractive cause their bodies don’t need as much fuel to keep going at a healthy rate so we can eat less and not get hungry fast.

    Taller girls have an easy time staying thin even when eating much so that could make them more attractive for men. Short or skinny guys would probably like tall women. I also see lots of white men go for tall women so maybe it’s a culture thing. Who knows, I’m not tall and I wouldn’t know if they have it hard in life.

  13. efe says

    it’s all right . I am taller than my age and tall and short boys go crazy for me so being tall is very cool.

  14. Tall says

    As a tall girl, I would like to explain to the short girls the reason for other tall girls’comments in here- No one is trying to be mean to you guys. We are trying to boost the confidence of that insecure 6′ reading this. I have been made fun of by countless people (5’4″ and under, mind you) for being tall. I’ve been called a freak, a giant, you name it. We are merely trying to justify to the other girls out there that being tall is wonderful. When short girls get in a group, they insult me, but individually, they all admit they wished they looked like me. The most popular girl in my grade even said how cool it is to be tall and she wished she were my height. This just goes to show you that even the girl it seems everyone wants has insecurities. Some of old so called “close friends” have made rude comments about my height being less than feminine and weird. This one girl is very competitive with me in particular. She was trying to take a picture of something and I was standing nearby, assuming I was out of frame, and she turned to me and snapped “ya know what, you don’t have to stand there like a freaking model!” The girls who make the rude comments are most likely just jealous. Some short girls really just think that short girls are more attractive, which is fine. But the ones who go out of their way are probably insecure about something with themselves. Don’t listen to them. I am 5’10”, and the guy I like is 5’8″, and let me tell you, he is amazing. He’s witty, athletic, smart, RESPECTS WOMEN (very old-fashioned), and a very compassionate person. Well at our junior prom, I was wearing a very figure flattering cocktail dress with stilettos (yup) and he was singing along to the song that was playing. When he turned around and saw me, he stopped singing, his jaw dropped ever so slightly and he looked me up and down quite obviously (not in a pervy way, though). He started blushing and smiling at me, and he kept coming near me trying to dance quite a few times that night. In other words, if they like you, they won’t care about your height. If your are insecure, guys will read that. Keep your head held high, and learn to embrace what you were given. :) xoxo

    • Anonymous says

      I am 17 and 5’9 and reading that just made me feel so much better about myself! I’ve never viewed it in that way! So thanks! Xo

    • Anonymous says

      You are awesome! Im 6foot 140 pounds and love my height. Slim trim and attractive! I have short friends that are beautiful and very few tall ones! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
      I love your perspective!

    • Kiki says

      I’m 5’8, slim hourglass with a slight athletic build (meaning a slightly defined shoulders and a bigger shoe size). I definitely stand out in a crowd, it’s both good and bad depending on my mood. There are days when I just want to be unnoticed, I play down my assets by wearing flats and slightly less pretty clothes, even to the point of having that trendy tomboy style that’s going on with a lot of thin fashion girls. On the other side, when I am in the mood to look like a bombshell, it is quite possible. Clothes hang better, it’s easier to shop. Jeans are cut in better proportions, can play with shapes and forms, trends, can even pull off the flat shoes with pencil skirt pretty well, etc.
      I understand the pain tall girls go through at times, like you have to hunch a little bit when taking photos with petite friends, wearing flats to slightly even out the obvious height difference in the group. It sucks to conform to such ideals but somehow it’s those little bends we do to fit in. I’m only 29 and I don’t have a problem attracting men, on the contrary I’ve realized a lot of guys are intrigued by a tall lady who carries herself pretty well, and can pull off a totally different attitude than those damsels in distress kind. I’m not saying being tall is better than being a short/petite girl. I’m sure there are guys into tall girls, or so I hope it’s more of the personality and the kind of person the lady is than her physical attributes that dictates a man’s interest for a lady.
      .. And what better way to celebrate this given height than show the world that the view up there (especially in stilettos) is way better. Rockin’ my 4’5 inch heels and I won’t be sorry for it!

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