I’m a 4’11” tall, aging female. EVERYONE talks down to me, necessarily. However, I am also multi-degreed, with wide and varied experience and a history of accomplishments I could brag about but probably won’t get a chance to because you will be busy telling me how to tie my shoes or wipe my nose or do anything.
Because I’m a short female with grey hair and I must, of course, know nothing.
Of course, I’ve been short all my life. I was saddened when I recently had my knees replaced. They did both at the same time and I asked the doc if he could just make me an inch taller – instead he shortened me. If I lose any more height I will qualify for a car seat. It isn’t easy being taken seriously at this height. I have trouble dressing for success, I can’t wear high heels with my MS, I’m overweight, and I try to be friendly, all things which somehow make my competence seem in doubt.
(Interestingly, wearing a push-up bra somehow adds dozens of points to my IQ when talking with men. Or at least they act that way. Honestly, were none of my age group breastfed adequately?)
After years of being patronized or ignored, I’ve gotta admit it’s a bit of a sore spot with me. People probably don’t realize this, but if you patronize me more than once, you are dead to me. Dead. Of course I won’t actually kill you, but I WILL put you in a story and make unpleasant things happen to your character. It’s only fair.
There must be something about my face. In the last little while people have offered to get Jesus to heal me (Jesus and I have talked and I told him he has bigger fish to fry), told me how to facilitate a group (something I’ve been doing for over 20 years), and offered to “help” me with all sorts of things I can perfectly do well enough myself (mainly by telling me how).
It’s frustrating. I don’t want to go around shouting about my brain being the size of the universe, like Marvin in the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy– mainly because I think everyone has a brain the size of the universe. But I am frequently tempted to have my qualifications tattooed on my body so when people helpfully explain things I’ve studied for years, I can just whip out that piece of flesh and wave it at them. (Given my overweight status, I have enough flesh for the full assortment.)
It’s bad enough that at my height I can’t use half the cupboards in my kitchen, have to drive with my chest pressed against the steering wheel, have to ask for help to reach things in the grocery store. Is it absolutely necessary to also treat me like a child, just because I’m the size of one?
Honestly. I think I’m going to have to go and pout.
Note: please don’t write and tell me how to deal with my anger. I KNOW how, ergo not in jail. I’d be perfectly calm if everyone would just stop explaining things I already know in the tones of an elementary school teacher.