When she measures 1.80 and he is 1.60: the last taboo of the heterosexual couple

TO Zendaya Y Tom Holland They don’t care about stereotypes. She measures 1.79, six centimeters more than him, but that difference in height has not been a problem either on the big screen or in the sentimental relationship they share outside of it. Asked about it during the promotional tour of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Holland first resorted to corrosive humor, assuring that “recent studies suggest that the sexual life of short men is more intense and satisfying.” Zendaya, sitting next to her, added that she finds the assumption that women shouldn’t be taller than their male partners “absurd and misogynistic,” as well as contrary to or what she herself perceives as “normal”: “My mother is very taller than my father,” explained the Oakland actress, “well, actually my mother is a giant, in every way. She is the tallest woman I know.”

Holland wanted to settle the matter by appealing to common sense: “If such criteria were still in force in Hollywood, I would never have been able to be Spider-Man, because all the actresses who chose the role of MJ were at least a couple of centimeters higher than me. After all, Zendaya isn’t that tall, I’m the one with her below average height. And it is fortunate that this does not pose a problem for her or for Jon Watts [el director de la película]”.

For Jasmine Washington, editor of the American magazine Seventeen, “The naturalness and unapologetic nature of Zendaya and Tom’s approach to this issue is refreshing, but unfortunately, it’s still not the most common thing in show business.” The directors of casting They continue to take into account the correlation of heights between male and female characters, something that is “an unfair obstacle when choosing certain roles for actresses as tall as Una Thurman (1.83), Geena Davis (1.83) , Brooke Shields (1.84), Elizabeth Debicki (1.90) or even Sigourney Weaver (1.80), because it is considered that his presence can “bother, diminish or even mortify” his co-stars.

It is not, of course, a rigid criterion: Tom Cruise, with his meager 1.70, was a co-star and stable partner of the Australian Nicole Kidman, 11 centimeters taller, but this difference, as Washington explains, “tended to be hidden on screen and even on the red carpet by resorting to raises, platforms, close-ups and other tricks”. Furthermore, any reference to her height was a taboo subject in interviews with the couple.

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in "Eyes Wide Shut".
Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in “Eyes Wide Shut.”

The Asturian journalist Raquel Presumado, author of the book Anonymous, the silent writing of women (Editorial Antipersona), considers that Hollywood, with its adherence to such ridiculous patriarchal inertias, has done nothing more than reproduce a stereotype with deep social roots and still, despite everything, an indisputable validity: “The difference in height continues to be a a criterion that is taken into account when choosing a partner”, explains Presumed. It is enough to take a walk on Tinder to verify that “most heterosexual men include height in their descriptions in case they are tall, which, translated to the animal world, would be the equivalent of the display of colorful feathers with which peacocks they strive to attract females of their kind.”

On the other hand, men who move in the range of 1.70 or below tend to omit the data and even “avoid group photos, to avoid unwanted comparisons” or appear only in low-angle photos “to appear taller ”. Some become dignified, making it clear that this social imposition is unpleasant for them: “If you ask me my height, I undo the match”. As for tall women, they have become accustomed to developing strategies that avoid the discomfort of their potential partners, such as “going on dates with flat shoes”. Presumed considers that, among men, “vomitive machismo topics” are still in force, such as the insistence that “short women are preferable because they are more manageable”, something that shows, in his opinion, that two of the characteristics that are most continue to value in women are “inferiority and vulnerability”. The Spanish proverb collects an expression that Presumed seems very significant to this hierarchy of primitive values ​​associated with height: “The woman and the hen, better little one”.

The human being is one of the higher mammals that present a significant sexual dimorphism in terms of body dimensions. According to recent data, the average height of women is between 1.50 and 1.70 and between 1.65 and 1.85 in the case of men. This difference is somewhat more pronounced in Western Europe and North America than in the planet as a whole. In the case of Spain, according to data from the World Health Organization, the average height of women between 18 and 25 years old is 1.62 for 1.76 of men, a difference of 14 centimeters, among the tallest of the world. In the case of Zendaya and Tom Holland, she is 14 centimeters above the average for American women, while he, born in London, is eight below the 1.78 average for UK citizens. That is to say, that he is a perfectly formal couple, but infrequent in statistical terms.

Classic Hollywood, that infallible machine for constructing imaginaries, but also for reproducing them and helping to consolidate them, took into account the normal and, therefore, socially acceptable criterion of correlating heights that prevailed in the United States until the end of the 20th century. TO Humphrey Bogart he had to suffer it. The New York actor was 1.71 meters tall, in the average range of Americans of his generation, something that was not a problem at all while he was typecast in roles in which he very rarely shared long shots with leading actresses.

Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart, pretending that she was taller than him.
Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart, pretending that she was taller than him.

In his first role as a leading man, The last refuge was paired with Ida Lupino, 1.63, More than acceptable partenaire, but women with above average height would soon burst into his life. Starting with Lauren Bacall (a 1.74 official who, in the opinion of her biographers, hid an extra centimeter), with whom she shared the screen in to have or not to have in 1944 and who would become his fourth wife a year later.

However, the true test of character for Bogart was his role as Rick Blaine in the now legendary White House (1942), a film in which he shared frames with the Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, 1.78, just one centimeter shorter than Zendaya, four generations later. Bogart was forced to correct the asymmetry by wearing uncomfortable wedges of up to four inches that put him at Bergman’s height and even, with some additional help from the actress, who got used to slightly bowing his legs and tilting his head. , looking into her eyes from above in some scenes, such as the unforgettable farewell at the airport.

As Bobby Bushell explains in an article in Metaflix, Bogart was mortified by having to perform scenes with a very high emotional texture perched on ridiculous cork platforms and Bergman, a pragmatic and unprejudiced woman, was amused that such a crude resource was considered essential for the chemistry between the actors to work on screen. . In a quirky comedy classic, Ball of fire (1941), Barbara Stanwyck perched on a couple of volumes of the Britannic Encyclopediaca to be able to kiss the lips of the towering Gary Cooper (1.90), in a witty, delicious scene with a very high semantic value. No one during the filming of White House Such a device was proposed to elegantly circumvent the difference in height between Ingrid and Humphrey.

Bogart’s wedge shoes have cast a long shadow over classic and contemporary Hollywood. For Woody Allen, it was not an excessive inconvenience to compare his 1.65 with Diane Keaton’s 1.70 in that summit of the romantic comedy that is AnnieHall, but she did bear in mind the need to “wear flat shoes and not walk too upright in the shots she shared with him, so that our relationship in the film would not be ridiculous or implausible.” Although perhaps the real challenge for Allen was that the 1.80 of the very young Mariel Hemingway went unnoticed in Manhattan (1979). Stanley Kubrick, a brilliant director, but from the old school, was very present during the filming of Eyes Wide Shut (1999) the ten centimeters of height that separate Nicole Kidman from Tom Cruise, and that conditioned the way in which the otherwise exquisite scenes of intimacy between the two were filmed.

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jason Statham at the Critics' Choice Awards.
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jason Statham at the Critics’ Choice Awards.cord press

Beyond the screen, on the red carpet, couples like Benji Madden and Cameron Diaz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jason Statham or Liv Tyler and Royston Langdon have resorted to all kinds of tricks and subterfuges so that it is not too obvious. that they are much taller than them. And it was curious to see how the model Karlie Kloss, of an impressive 188 centimeters, managed to not embarrass her boyfriends until she found a man at her height, the businessman Joshua Kushner (1.91), with whom she has recovered the habit of wearing heels.

No need to go so far. As explained by Raquel Presumado, one of the most curious cases of this effort to disguise the height of women so that they appear less “threatening” occurred a few days ago at the New Year’s bells on Spanish Television: “On Twitter it was leaked an image of Jacob Petrus, the journalist who presented them together with Anne Igartiburu, climbed on a platform to appear taller”. Of course, the decision to artificially put Petrus at the height of Igartiburu’s 1.75 meter height created a considerable stir on the networks. Some attributed it to adhering to a “macho stereotype” that resists generations and fashions and others justified it by arguing that it is a production resource “so as not to drive the cameras crazy.”

Anne Igartiburu and Jacob Petrus during the broadcast of the chimes of TVE. The presenter was given a rise to hide that he was shorter than the presenter.
Anne Igartiburu and Jacob Petrus during the broadcast of the chimes of TVE. The presenter was given a rise to hide that he was shorter than the presenter.

Smug has his own opinion: “I find it funny to think of poor Anne, forced to hide her height every time she presents something with a man shorter than her.” Zendaya doesn’t have that problem. She has chosen to live out of the closet of women with above average heights. And she has the support of her partner, the man that no one had the impoliteness to rule out for the role of Spider-man for not measuring up.

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When she measures 1.80 and he is 1.60: the last taboo of the heterosexual couple