Posts Tagged ‘shoe lifts’

Life & Style: How Tom Makes Himself Taller

August 20, 2010

From the pages of the August 30, 2010 edition of Life & Style, Tom Cruise is critic-ed on the night of the Knight and Day premier in London for looking as tall as Cameron Diaz. Reportedly, Jimmy Au’s tailor to Stars 5′ 8″ and under has dressed Tom in the past. The magazine also reports that Cruise uses Lift Kits shoe insoles to help boost his height, which can also be found at Jimmy Au’s. Check out pages 44 and 45 to get the full scoop.

How Tom makes himself taller

Shoe lifts raise airport security alarm

April 22, 2010

By CBC News, cbc.ca, Updated: April 20, 2010 6:00 PM

A traveler who stuffed his shoes with batteries and metal plates in a bid to appear taller put security officials on high alert at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Tuesday.

Shortly before 10 a.m. ET, a man traveling to Chicago was stopped by security.

It was the unusual contents of his shoes that set off alarm bells — specifically a series of concealed metal plates and batteries.

The man was detained, taken to a nearby police station and questioned for five hours. The incident drew the interest of Peel Regional Police, the RCMP and INSET, Canada’s integrated national security enforcement team.

But instead of concealing bomb-making equipment, the man was simply trying to appear taller, police eventually determined.

“If anything, it was a crime of vanity,” CBC’s John Lancaster reported. “He used a series of batteries and plates to make himself appear taller. Essentially, they were homemade lifts.”

The man was released without charges at 3:30 p.m. ET.

He boarded an afternoon flight to Chicago to connect with a flight to China.

—-

Our question is whether this guy is truly short, doing a dry run for a terrorist organization or just stupid. Well we know he’s stupid; wonder whether he had height on his mind or malicious intent.

China’s Beauty Boom on Oprah.com

March 4, 2010

For most of the Western world, style in the late ’60s and early ’70s was defined by miniskirts, mod dresses and platform heels. But for China, the most populated country on the planet, these were decades devoid of style.

In 1966, China’s Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong launched his Cultural Revolution and banned the pursuit of beauty. For 10 years, every man, woman and child was required to dress in masculine, military-style uniforms. Any display of femininity—like long hair, makeup or jewelry—was strictly forbidden. If a woman broke the rules, she faced severe punishment.

Now, there’s another revolution happening—a billion-dollar beauty boom. Lisa Ling travels 7,000 miles to Shanghai to see how China is redefining its standard of beauty.

Five years ago, Vogue magazine launched a Chinese edition. Angelica Cheung, the editor-in-chief, says it’s been a success since the first issue hit stands. “We were the first Vogue to actually make a profit in the first year,” she says.

Angelica says, in the past 10 years, women in this Communist country have started to enjoy all that the beauty industry has had to offer…and business is booming.

“Go into any store that sells cosmetics or skincare products throughout the country, and it will be packed,” Lisa says. “In fact, next to tourism, automobiles and real estate, beauty is the fourth-biggest industry in the biggest country in the world.”
Over the past decade, Lisa has traveled to China more than a dozen times, and in that time, she’s seen this beauty boom affect women’s lives dramatically. “In the early years, it was so obvious when you would see someone from the mainland because she just didn’t really have any style,” Lisa says. “It wasn’t important.”

Lisa says she used to draw crowds if she wore lipstick in China…but not anymore. “Now, when you go to China, it is so incredibly modern, and you’ll see some of the most stylish women you would see anywhere,” she says. “It’s changed remarkably in a very short period of time.”

The world will have to wait and see if this cultural shift is for better or for worse. “I think what’s happening in China is symbolic of what has happened all over the world,” Lisa says. “Is it a good thing when women are completely obsessed with enhancing their look and becoming more beautiful? It’s a hard one to say because we all sort of are. … But is it a little sad? It is, because it has changed so quickly. It’s, I think, always unfortunate to see large groups of people becoming sort of slaves to the whole machine, if you will.”
Ten years ago, cosmetic surgery was also banned in China, but today, it’s a multibillion-dollar industry.

Lisa took cameras inside Shanghai’s Ninth People’s Hospital, one of the largest in the nation, to meet men and women waiting to get nipped and tucked. In the plastic surgery waiting area, she meets a college student and a woman in her 60s. Both women are there for the same procedure—eyelid reshaping surgery.

“They both walked in, met their surgeon for the first time and, in just two hours, were on operating tables,” Lisa says.

Every year, thousands of people request this popular procedure, which reshapes the smaller Asian eyelid into a larger, more Western shape. Dr. Sun Baoshan, a Chinese plastic surgeon, says he’s seen a dramatic increase in patients over the past few years.

“Four years ago, we had only 30,000 surgeries per year here, but last year we had 40,000 cosmetic surgeries at this hospital alone,” Dr. Sun Baoshan says. “This year, it will be 50,000.”
Americans are no strangers to extreme plastic surgery, but while in Shanghai, Lisa learns about a radical new procedure that’s gaining popularity in China—leg lengthening.

In this part of the world, Lisa says height is a sign of status, and oftentimes, it’s a prerequisite for success. “Minimum height requirements are not unusual for many jobs, for admission to some colleges, even to land a date,” Lisa says.

As medical technology improves, more people are going under the knife to have this painful, controversial procedure, which can help patients grow anywhere from a few inches to a full foot.

At the Shanghai Height Increasing Specialized Institute, Lisa meets Dr. Bai Helong, a Chinese doctor who modernized the leg-lengthening procedure. He says his patients want to be taller for many reasons.

“China has 1.3 billion people, so getting a job is quite difficult,” Dr. Bai Helong says. “As a result, a short person not only experiences difficulty in getting a job, but also trouble in their marriage, love life, family, career and many other areas.”

Jessy, a 27-year-old who’s interested in undergoing the procedure, says she’s willing to take a year off work to grow a few inches. Currently, she’s 5’3”.

“I want to be 5’6” or 5’7”. Just being tall makes me feel much confidence,” she says. “I’m always jealous when I see tall girls walking around. I just want to be just like them.”
Dr. Bai’s patients go to great lengths to stand a few inches above their competition. “Pain is definitely a part of the procedure, which is both horrifying and miraculous,” Lisa says.

To lengthen the leg, holes are drilled into the leg bone and screws are inserted to stabilize an adjustable leg brace. Then, surgeons carefully saw the leg bone in half below the knee, and the braces slowly stretch the bones apart. Over time, Dr. Bai says new bone grows into the gap and increases the person’s height.

Lisa says most patients are out of commission for at least six months after the surgery, and others remain in seclusion from friends and family for a full year. At this time, the bulky braces are removed, and the new bone is hard enough to withstand normal activity.

Despite the pain and price—anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000—Lisa says patients think it’s worth the sacrifice. “If this is something that does make people feel better, far be it for us to intrude our opinions,” she says. “But it certainly is very extreme. I had never experienced anything quite like it.”

Printed from Oprah.com on Thursday, March 4, 2010

How to Buy Height Increasing Insoles

December 11, 2009

How to Buy Height Increasing Insoles

Shoe lifts are becoming more and more popular. Why should the tall people be the only one to command the presence of a room? With inserts, you can get the confidence and pride that comes from height. If you want to buy height increasing insoles, here are a few things that you should look for.

First, you need to worry about comfort. It doesn’t matter how comfortable your shoes are, if you get uncomfortable inserts your feet will be in pain all day. If you have the chance to try your inserts make sure that you do. If you plan to buy height increasing insoles online, make sure that they have gel inserts. These will give you the best chance of getting comfortable inserts

Next you have to worry about the most important aspect, height. You can buy height increasing insoles that will add a half of an inch, to up to three inches to your height. You need to decide if you are looking for a big gain, or just to add an extra inch. You also have to be aware of the fact that if you buy large inserts, they may not work with low top shoes.

You can however, get adjustable inserts. These will allow you to add three inches when you are wearing boots, and two inches when you are wearing low tops. Adjustable insoles will be able to fit into a wider range of shoes.

You can also get half model insoles. These inserts only support the heel, but they are much more versatile then the full model design. Half models are good if you plan to wear them with many different shoes, on many different occasions. So no matter what the situation is, you can get the height that you deserve.

The shoe lift challenge: Eat your heart out, Tom

October 22, 2009

The shoe lift challenge: Eat your heart out, Tom
By VINCE GRAFF

How did Tom Cruise suddenly grow three inches to be taller than his wife? We asked this vertically challenged writer to test one theory … and see if it stacked up.

As breakfast table talk goes, it was something of a bombshell.

“There’s something I’ve never told you,” my wife of three years announced sheepishly as she cleared away the remnants of our 16-month-old son’s Rice Krispies, “because I was worried I might hurt your feelings . . . I nearly dumped you as soon as we met”.

(Gulp. What could I have done to so appall Helen that she’d considered bringing our burgeoning romance to such a swift end?)

“I spent the first 24 hours of our relationship thinking: ‘Do I really want to go out with a man who’s shorter than me?'” she explained.

Scroll down for more…

tomkatDM1311_468x712

What a difference three days make: Tom Cruise looks unusually taller than wife Katie Holmes

“But, sweetheart, I soon realised I shouldn’t be worrying about something so silly.”

Er, thank you, darling.

I am 5ft 2 3/4 inches (don’t you dare snatch that extra three-quarters of an inch away from me); Helen is 5ft 4in.

It’s never seemed to be a problem before, though she did agree to forsake stilettos on our wedding day so that I didn’t end up looking like wee Jimmy Krankie in the photos.

It seems, though, that ours is not the only relationship where height is an issue.

Last week, the Mail carried fascinating photos of Tom Cruise and his wife Katie Holmes at two film screenings.

Tom is said to be 5ft 7in, and Katie 5ft 9in.

But in the first picture, taken at the premiere of his movie Lions For Lambs in Los Angeles, Tom was clearly the taller of the two.

Three days later, at a screening of the film in New York, he was suddenly shorter than his wife.

Before you ask, Katie was wearing similar heels in both pictures, so there’s no way her choice of footwear can explain Cruise’s mysterious height fluctuation.

Yet somehow he’d shed four inches in three days.

So how did that happen?

If Tom’s fast-disappearing inches had come off his waistline rather than his height, he’d have the whole of Hollywood at his feet.

And maybe it’s those feet that explain Tom’s minor miracle.

For what if the famously height- challenged actor had been wearing lifts in his shoes in LA?

Shoe lifts, in case you’ve not come across them before, are little inserts that can be placed inside shoes in order to lift your heel – and, thereby, your height.

Scroll down for more…

vincegraffDM1311_468x779-1

Standing taller: Vince Graff with wife Helen

A more extreme alternative, the socalled “elevator shoe”, in which the lift is an integral part of the footwear, allows you to boost your height by as much as four inches.

Both are impossible to detect from the outside.

A full set of shoe lifts can cost £250, while a single pair of off-the-shelf elevator shoes will set you back between £50 and £100.

But if you’d like a pair of hand-made bespoke elevator shoes – the type that might appeal to a Hollywood star perhaps? – you could spend £1,700 on a pair.

Still, what price pride? I’m the smallest man in my family and was the smallest boy in my primary school until I was eight or nine.

Being a teenager in a class where all the girls towered over me was also not much fun.

Whatever they say about “personality” being the most important thing, I soon discovered the appalling truth: girls don’t make passes at men who are short-arses.

Now I’ve passed my shrink-washed genes onto my son.

George was born quite a large lad (8lb 13oz), but in no time at all he had slipped down the height and weight tables until, like his dad, he was an out-and-out shortie.

He’s now languishing on the second centile – meaning that 98 per cent of babies his age are taller than he is.

I was worried about this for a while.

Then, one night, I found myself at a party where there were 50 or so other men.

I looked around and realised that I was the shortest bloke in the room.

Hardly a scientific survey, but it dawned on me: I must be in the bottom two per cent, too.

Anyway, I’ve had my fill of being small.

I’m fed up with always being the last person at the bar to get served; in a rage at being trampled on during rush-hour train journeys; riled at having to pay the full price for a cinema ticket when I get to see only half the screen.

Yes, short men have it tough – and I want to be taller. Now!

Logging on to the internet, I find what seems to be the answer to my prayers.

Alongside a cheesy picture of a man stroking his chin – not the sort of bloke who struggles to get served at his local – there are 18 styles of elevator shoes, from trainers to formal brogues, that promise to increase your height by up to four inches.

Prices range from £49.99 to £99.99. I opt for brown suede moccasins and a pair of black leather ankle boots.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of in ordering these height-boosting shoes, of course – why would there be? But just in case I’d like to keep quiet about it, the website promises: “All orders are treated in the strictest confidence. All products are sent in plain unmarked packaging.”

When my package arrives, I can’t contain my excitement.

The shoes are well-made and smart.

From the outside, they look like any other pair of shoes, with the soles and heels no deeper than usual.

The secret is inside: the insole is dramatically raised up at the back end of the shoe and tilts down towards the front.

When I slide my feet in, it is as if I am wearing stilettos.

Standing straight and proud, I admire myself in the mirror. I am now a giant among men – a huge 5ft 6in!

One small problem.

Though I’m now three inches taller, my trousers are not three inches longer – and they’re now too short. (The company doesn’t mention on its website that you’ll have to replace every pair of trousers you own.)

I stride proudly into the living room and hug my wife.

She doesn’t notice that the man embracing her is now a giant.

She does, however, realise that something is up.

“Vince,” she says. “You’re looking very slim today.”

It’s not a bad start, I suppose.

I head for London’s West End for a night out. What will happen when I try to order a drink in a bar? And will women treat me any differently?

My first mistake is running for the bus.

Clunk, clunk, clunk. The shoes are heavy and I am not used to running (or walking) with my feet at this peculiar angle.

The bus whizzes off without me.

Eventually, I get to the pub, stride up to the bar and catch the barmaid’s eye.

Within seconds, I’m being served. Is this because of my new-found confidence or my new-found visibility?

The barmaid tells me that, yes, I do look 5ft 6in, and that my shoes look perfectly ordinary to her.

Not that she ever ignores small people at a crowded bar, she tells me. Never. Yeah, right.

Time to move on. Slowly

The stiff virgin leather is pinching my big toe, and my legs are aching under the weight of the shoes.

The barman at my next port of call, the fashionable Soho Hotel, is also in denial.

Paolo, from Ecuador, claims: “It’s all about how polite you are – height has nothing to do with how quickly you get served.

“If you scream and shout at me for a drink, you’ve got no chance – even if you’re 6ft 6in tall.

“But the thing that works 100 per cent of the time is an attractive woman. I just can’t help it. Sorry.”

Despite not fulfilling his criteria, I’ve been served straight away – though, to be fair, there are only two or three other punters waiting.

But it’s nice to be first for the first time in my life.

I get talking to a group of women.

Bridget is a glamorous 35-year-old blonde from the U.S. who used to own a bar in Spain. She’s 5ft 8in.

“You look quite tall enough to me,” she says, looking me up and down. (Even in my new shoes, I’m still shorter than she is.)

“I’ve never had a problem with short men. I know a lot of women look for tall men, but it’s not a prerequisite for me.”

Before we get any friendlier (too friendly?), I move on.

I do seem to have a new confidence.

But Bridget’s friend Ylva, a 32-year- old Swedish woman who works in IT, soon puts me in my place.

“A few extra inches do help a man become more attractive,” she says.

Unfortunately, my shoes don’t quite hit the mark, and for Ylva I’m still too short.

“I want a big bear hug from a man, so I only really fancy men who are bigger than me,” she says.

“Sorry, but that’s the truth.”

I head off for a bite to eat.

In a Chinese restaurant, I find a group of students celebrating a 19th birthday.

Maybe the younger generation can be relied upon to restore my faith in women?

I ask Rachel, 18, how tall she thinks I am.

“Five foot eight?” she hazards. I am in heaven.

Her pal, a pretty Scottish girl called Sarah, jumps up from the table and measures herself against me, back to back.

It’s soon clear I’m not 5ft 8in, but I am taller than Sarah and Rachel.

“It looks funny if you tower over your man,” says Sarah, thinking it’ll cheer me up.

In fact, it reinforces everything I knew before I entered this land of make-believe. Because, in the end, I know I need to return to the real world.

By now, I am hobbling. There is a blister on my left foot and, like an Essex girl at the end of a night’s clubbing, I need to get my shoes off and go to bed.

And the next morning? I get out my ordinary shoes.

It’s not that Helen objected to my height-boosting shoes.

“I was expecting them to look really embarrassing and naff, like a weird orthopaedic thing, but in fact they are rather stylish” she said.

“The only problem is that you just don’t walk properly in them.”

In any case, she wants her old husband back: “I love you the way you are: as my Vince.”

Swoon. Her reaction makes me wonder: did my new confidence come from my shoes or from within?

On reflection, I’m not sure they gave me anything more than might a couple of vodkas and tonic.

On the positive side, it’s impossible to tell you are wearing height boosting shoes.

No one noticed anything odd, and my extra inches did seem to help me get served (and even admired) in pubs and bars.

But there’s no way I can carry on with the charade. My feet won’t take the strain.

It was intriguing to be given a glance into the giants’ world – but this Gulliver knows where his true home is.

Last updated at 07:05 14 November 2007

LiftKits presents at 81st Annual Academy Awards Gifting Suite to the Stars

March 2, 2009

Honoring the 81st Annual Academy Awards, Main Event Red Carpet Lounge & Green Suite presented an exclusive Giving/Gifting/Oscars Pampering Suite held at Studio 944 benefiting spcaLA. Celebrities had the “suite” life as they were pampered throughout the whole event.

The lounge was quite the turn out as it pulled in over 400 people in just two days. I can see why the Main Event RedCarpet Lounge & Green Suite wrapped up so many people; luxurious beauty and spa cool eco-treatments such as organic mini-facials, makeup and lash applications, electrotherapy, and hair cutting/styling appointments were recieved. Celebrities were also able to enjoy their sweets and drinks with star-quality edibles such as Carrie Wiatt’s Diet Designs and IZZE signature cocktails!

Of course we cannot forget to mention the pleasure having a Pre-Oscars informal trunk fashion showing of haute couture gowns, celebrity jewelry, women’s designer shoes and handbags, men’s designer shoes and neckties, and a 3-D Lounge presented by Dream Factory Studios.

Even the celebrity’s pets received special Oscar pampering and gifts. Helping the prevention of animal cruelty, a silent auction of luxury items was held to benefit spcaLA.

Over all the Giving/Gifting/Oscar Pampering Suite was a successful celebration for the celebrities of the 81st Academy Awards. Main Event Red Carpet Lounge & Green Suite knew how to spoil Hollywood’s celebrities making sure they were prepared for the big day!

Attendees included: Director of Oscar-nominated New Boy Steph Green, Producer of Oscar-nominated The Wrestler Scott Franklin, Sterling Beaumon (LOST), Rachelle Carson Begley (Living With Ed), Monica Ford (Obsessed), Kathy Joosten (Desperate Housewives), Rex Lee (Entourage), Gretchen Ross (The Real Housewives of Orange County), Cedric Sanders (American Gangster), Slade Smiley (Date My Ex: Jo & Slade), Amber Stevens (Fired Up), Isabella Thorne (My Own Worst Enemy), Shaun Toub (Iron Man), Nick Verreos (Project Runway & The Style Network)

Check out all the cool gifts and treatments they received in honorarium of the 2009 Oscars!

Oscar Gifting Suite

Oscar Gifting Suite


Need a lift? LiftKits give men the confidence they deserve with adding a lift to their their step. Created by three guys in Hollywood, they believe if women can add a boost to their confidence with adding certain “cheats” to their game—such as fake eye lashes, push up bras, wearing high heels, and so forth—men should be able to take advantage of a certain quality they can greater to feel better about themselves as well. LiftKits allows men to naturally and comfortably increase their height up to two inches. Feel large and in charge with LiftKits under your step!

To read the entire article by Adriana Davalos click here

photo provided by LASplash.com

LiftKits uses Shopit for Social Selling

February 25, 2009

The people at Shopit like LiftKits and we like Shopit. Check out the write up they did on LiftKits – Shopit Blog. Pretty funny group over there, but without a doubt, vertically challenged.
LiftKits uses Shopit for selling our patented height increasing insoles on Social Networking and community sites like Facebook, MySpace and Shopit itself.

You can find LiftKits Products and Information here:
http://myliftkits.com/ – whole new look and feel
Facebook page
Myspace profile
Shopit Store
Twitter
YouTube Vids and Tutorials
Add us, follow us, become our friend!

Why are tall women considered superior to shorter women?

January 24, 2009

Why are tall women considered superior to shorter women?

Because if you’re tall like Uma Thurman, other women think you’re more intelligent, assertive and independent, and if you’re as short as Kylie Minogue, you’re merely considerate and nurturing

By Roger Dobson

Generations of women have complained about high-heeled shoes and the crushed toes and bunions they suffer for the sake of an extra inch or two. Now ground-breaking research has proved their sacrifice is not in vain.

Both men and women judge a tall female on first sight as more intelligent, assertive, independent and ambitious. For good measure, they are also judged richer and more successful, whatever the reality.

Psychologists at the universities of Liverpool and Central Lancashire have run the first scientific experiments to prove that “heightism” – which has always been associated with competition between men – colours our view of women’s talents too.

They found that when volunteers were shown digitally lengthened and shortened pictures of women, they made a series of instant judgments about their likely personalities, not all of them flattering. According to Dr Simon Chu, who led the research, it is “the first direct evidence that female height influences perception of their character”.

Tall women do not have things all their own way. The researchers also found that the male volunteers judged small women to be more nurturing and likely to be better mothers.

Shorter women also get support from a separate new analysis from University College London, which shows that women with an hour-glass figure – associated more commonly with small and medium-sized rather than tall females – are seen not only as more attractive, but more intelligent, flirtatious, healthy and fertile. They found that women whose waist was 70 per cent of the size of their hips were thought the most attractive, as well as the most intelligent.

In the Liverpool and Lancashire study, psychologists manipulated pictures of women standing against cars so that the same casually dressed woman appeared in different images to be tall or short. The height of the shorter women was just under 5ft 1in and the taller females 5ft 8in. A hundred men and women, aged 18 to 62, were then asked to rate the women for eight characteristics.

Men believed that shorter women were more considerate, nurturing and homely. However, women on the panel believed that there was no difference between tall and short women for these three traits.

Why men see short females as more caring and more homely is not clear. One theory is that taller women mature sexually later, because more energy is being expended on growing at a time when the reproductive system is developing. Other research has shown that shorter women have more reproductive success – which may be why men see them as more nurturing.

“The accumulating evidence converges on the view that short stature is linked with reproduction, while tall stature is linked with strength,” the report says.

At the same time, expending more energy on growing means that taller women are bigger and stronger, both of which are associated with independence and self-reliance.

Certainly, they are well represented on the public stage. Nicole Kidman, at 5ft 11in, has hardly been held back, although she was unable to wear heels while married to the significantly shorter Tom Cruise. Nor has Uma Thurman, at 6ft. Jodie Kidd, another six-footer, says her height has rarely been a handicap. “I’ve always been very content with the way I look. The only time being so tall has been a problem was when I was showjumping – my feet used to hang down and knock down all the fences.”

The aptly named Liz Large, who runs a clothing company for tall women, said: “I’m 6ft 1in, and it does mean you are noticed automatically. At work I was promoted very young – people just assumed I was grown up and a safe pair of hands.”

Dr David Weeks, a consultant clinical neuropsychologist at the Superyoung clinic in Edinburgh said: “In the past in Britain, being tall has been associated with leadership and social class. If you go back to the early 1940s when they were sorting out who was suitable to be an officer, there three factors – height, dash and moustache. The more, you had the better. Being tall can make a good first impression but it can also be far more enduring and long lasting in people’s perceptions.”

Not that being short is always a handicap. Dr Ros Taylor, a clinical psychologist who has researched image, believes that any advantage a tall person has lasts for a maximum of 30 seconds, after which the positive impression has to be backed up by substance.

“It’s not as if when you are tall that in itself gives you power. It is an initial advantage, and it certainly is an advantage, but if you don’t have it there are other compensations” – an argument that Kylie Minogue, 5ft 1in, and Charlotte Church, 5ft 2in, would support wholeheartedly.

Real Celebrity Heights (or not so much)

December 17, 2008

Ever wonder how tall your favorite celebrities are? We’ll be publishing more of these from time to time.

Tom Cruise 5′ 7 ”

Robin Williams 5′ 7 ”

Dustin Hoffman 5 ‘ 6 ”

Al Pacino 5′ 5 1/2 ”

Seth Green 5 ‘ 4 ”

Dudley Moore 5 ‘ 2 1/2 ”

Danny DeVito 5 ‘ 0 ”

———————-

Drew Barrymore 5 ‘ 4 ”

Mena Suvari 5 ‘ 4 ”

Jodie Foster 5 ‘ 3 1/2 ”

Reese Witherspoon 5 ‘ 2 ”

Kristin Chenoweth 4 ‘ 11 ”

What Happened to America’s Height Advantage?

December 11, 2008

What happened to America’s height advantage?
Posted 7/15/2007 12:31 PM

By Matt Crenson, Associated Press
NEW YORK — America used to be the tallest country in the world.

From the days of the founding fathers right on through the industrial revolution and two world wars, Americans literally towered over other nations. In a land of boundless open spaces and limitless natural abundance, the young nation transformed its increasing wealth into human growth.

But just as it has in so many other arenas, America’s predominance in height has faded. Americans reached a height plateau after World War II, gradually falling behind the rest of the world as it continued growing taller.

By the time the baby boomers reached adulthood in the 1960s, most northern and western European countries had caught up with and surpassed the United States. Young adults in Japan and other prosperous Asian countries now stand nearly as tall as Americans do.

Even residents of the formerly communist East Germany are taller than Americans today. In Holland, the tallest country in the world, the typical man now measures 6 feet, a good two inches more than his average American counterpart.

Compare that to 1850, when the situation was reversed. Not just the Dutch but all the nations of western Europe stood 2½ inches shorter than their American brethren.

Does it really matter? Does being taller give the Dutch any advantage over say, the Chinese (men 5 feet, 4.9 inches; women 5 feet, 0.8 inches) or the Brazilians (men 5 feet, 6.5 inches; women 5 feet, 3 inches)?

Many economists would argue that it does matter, because height is correlated with numerous measures of a population’s well-being. Tall people are healthier, wealthier and live longer than short people. Some researchers have even suggested that tall people are more intelligent.

It’s not that being tall actually makes you smarter, richer or healthier. It’s that the same things that make you tall — a nutritious diet, good prenatal care and a healthy childhood — also benefit you in those other ways.

That makes height a good indicator for economists who are interested in measuring how well a nation provides for its citizens during their prime growing years. With one simple, easily collected statistic, economists can essentially measure how well a society prepares its children for life.

“This is the part of the society that usually eludes economists, because economists are usually thinking about income. And this is the part of the society that doesn’t earn an income,” said John Komlos, an economic historian at the University of Munich who was born in Hungary, grew up in Chicago, and has spent the last quarter century compiling data on the heights of nations.

Height tells you about a segment of the population that is invisible to traditional economic statistics. Children don’t have jobs or own houses. They don’t buy durable goods, or invest in the stock market. But obviously, investments in their well-being are critical to a nation’s economic future.

For several years now, Komlos and other researchers have been trying to figure out exactly why the United States fell behind. How could the wealthiest country in the world, during the most robust economic expansion in its history, simply stop growing?

“It’s absolutely fascinating,” said Eileen Crimmins, a demographer at the University of Southern California. “Maybe we’ve reached the point where we’re going to go backwards in height.”

Like many human traits, an individual’s height is determined by a mix of genes and environment. Some experts put the contribution of genes at 40%, some at 70%, some even higher. But they all agree that aside from African pygmies and a few similar exceptions, most populations have about the same genetic potential for height.

That leaves environment to determine the differences in height between populations around the world, specifically the environment children experience from the moment of conception through adolescence. Any deficiency along the way, from poor prenatal care to early childhood disease or malnutrition, can prevent a person from reaching his or her full genetic height potential.

“We know environment can affect heights by three, four, five inches,” said Richard H. Steckel, an Ohio State University economist who has also done research on height trends in the United States during the 19th century.

The earliest stages of life are the most important to the human growth machine; at age 2 there is already about a 70% correlation between a child’s height and his or her eventual adult stature.

All of this means a population’s average height is a very sensitive indicator of its most vulnerable members’ welfare.

Not surprisingly, rich countries tend to be taller simply because they have more resources to spend on feeding and caring for their children. But wealth doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a society will give its children what they need to thrive.

In the Czech Republic, per capita income is barely half of what it is in the United States. Even so, Czechs are taller than Americans. So are Belgians, who collect 84% as much income as Americans.

And those height differences translate into real benefits. A number of studies have shown that disease and malnutrition early in life — the same things that limit a person’s height — increase a person’s chances of developing heart disease and other life-shortening conditions later on. Though tall people are more likely to get cancer, they suffer less mortality overall than short people.

International statistics bear it out. Life expectancy in the Netherlands is 79.11 years; in Sweden it’s 80.63. America’s life expectancy of 78.00 years puts it in somewhat shorter company, just above Cyprus and a few notches below Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“Obviously America is not doing badly. It’s not at the level of developing nations,” Komlos said. “But it’s also not doing as well as it could.”

His latest research paper, published in the June issue of Social Science Quarterly, suggests the blame may lie with America’s poor diet and its expensive, inequitable health care system.

“American children might consume more meals prepared outside of the home, more fast food rich in fat, high in energy density and low in essential micronutrients,” wrote Komlos and co-author Benjamin E. Lauderdale of Princeton University. “Furthermore, the European welfare states provide a more comprehensive social safety net including universal health care coverage.”

In the United States, by comparison, an estimated 9 million children have no health insurance.

Komlos’ most recent data indicate a small uptick in the heights of white Americans born between 1975 and 1983, a suggestion that the gap may finally be closing. But there has been no similar increase among blacks, a suggestion that inequality may indeed play a significant role in the height gap.

In another recent paper, Komlos and Lauderdale also found height inequality between American urbanites and residents of suburbs and rural areas. In Kansas, for example, white males are about as tall as their European peers; it’s big cities like New York, where men are about 1.75 inches shorter than that, that drag America’s average down.

Now Komlos has started comparing the heights of children to determine at what age Americans begin falling behind their peers across the Atlantic. Not surprisingly, he sees a difference from birth, an observation that suggests prenatal care may be significant contributor factor to the height gap.

But it is unlikely that Komlos will ever find one simple factor to explain why Americans have fallen behind other rich countries in height. In all likelihood it is caused by a combination of things — a little bit health care, some diet, a sprinkling of economic inequality.

“In some ways it gets to the fundamentals of the American society, namely what is the ideology of the American society and what are the shortcomings of that ideology,” Komlos said. “I would argue that to take good care of its children is not part of that ideology.”

Whether that’s true is debatable; the height gap doesn’t measure how much Americans love their children. But at a minimum it does indicate — in raw feet and inches — whether the nation is giving its youngsters what they need to reach their full biological potential, or selling them short.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.