Scanning Around with Gene: Add Inches to Your Manhood!

Whenever I get a compliment about any sort of achievement, I often reply that I was “lucky to be born a tall, white male.” And I do feel that way sometimes. As far as height goes, unless you’re closing in on 7 feet, being tall has few downsides and does tend to garner an unearned respect (or at least attention). And while few tall people would tell you they’d like to be shorter, I suspect at least a few short people wish they were a bit taller.

Of course it’s all genetic chance, so it shouldn’t mean anything and we mostly have to live with the features we’re given. Mostly. Among the achievable body modifications at our disposal is the addition of up to 3 inches of height by wearing special “elevator” shoes. These ads are mostly from men’s adventure magazines of the Forties through the mid-Fifties. Click on any image to make it taller.

At 6’5″, I’ve never had to consider heel height in the purchase of footwear, but I do have to order most of my clothes from specialty catalogs or retailers. Very often ads for “Big & Tall” men run in the same section as these ads for shorter men wishing to be perceived as taller.

I don’t judge anyone who might make a purchase such as these shoes, but if, as many of the ads imply, it is to impress the ladies, then it seems a short-lived solution. At some point all will be revealed, of course, unless you wear your shoes to bed. And these styles are not exactly sexy.

Being tall isn’t all gravy, of course. First, you have to endure way too many questions about basketball, and even the innocent “How tall are you?” gets annoying and seems rather rude. (Would anyone ever say, “My God, you’re a shrimp. How short are you?”) And you get a lot of “How’s the atmosphere up there?” jokes, and people at markets sometimes ask you to get things off of the higher shelves for them.

Everyone, it seems, either has a relative or close friend that is slightly taller than you. When you reply “6’5″,” they almost invariably tell you about someone they once met who is 6’6″.

Even at my height, which is no longer that tall by some standards, you hit your head now and then on an awning, doorjamb, etc. And it isn’t very fun to go to Disneyland or fly on an airplane where seats are made for “average” heights and weights.

Being the tallest known family member, I have to wonder just where my genes came from. They’re inconsistent with a pairing of my biological mother and father. Hmmmmm. I wonder what the milkman looked like in 1956.

Being tall may be why I’m attracted to short people and have always had a few really short friends — we relate to what it’s like to be on either end of the fringe spectrum.

But on the whole, I can’t complain. Anyway, there’s very little I can do about it. No one, it seems, makes special shoes that take off a few inches! And just for the record, “No, I don’t play nor have I ever played, basketball, and the air is fine up here.”

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Posted on: May 29, 2009

Gene Gable

Gene Gable has spent a lifetime in publishing, editing and the graphic arts and is currently a technology consultant and writer. After a decade in commercial typesetting and design services, he chronicled the desktop-publishing revolution from his post as publisher and president of Publish magazine. With nine international editions, Publish became the leading global resource on the use of digital technology for print and Web production. Gable served on the operational boards of International Data Group's PCWorld, The Web and PC Games magazines and was earlier publisher of Sporting Times magazine. During his tenure at Ziff-Davis Gable was on the executive team responsible for major business events such as Comdex, Networld+Interop and JavaOne. As president of Seybold Seminars and publisher of The Seybold Report, Gable managed a global slate of conferences, trade shows and other graphic-arts educational products. During his leadership Seybold events featured prominent speakers such as Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of the New York Times, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer, Christie Hefner, president of Playboy Enterprises, Bruce Chizen, CEO of Adobe Systems, and Daniel Carp, CEO of Eastman Kodak. Gable has spoken at events around the world and has written extensively on graphic design, intellectual-property rights, and publishing production in books and for magazines such as Print, U&lc, ID, Macworld, Graphic Exchange, AGI, and The Seybold Report. His clients have included A-list brands in technology and financial services. Gable's interest in graphic design history and letterpress printing resulted in his popular columns "Heavy Metal Madness" and "Scanning Around with Gene" here on CreativePro.com. Follow Gene on Twitter

8 Comments on Scanning Around with Gene: Add Inches to Your Manhood!

  1. I like that the ads not only advertise getting the girl, but being taller than her. Always a little chauvinism in ads from that era.

  2. Being 6′ 4″ 3/4 I always rounded down to 6′ 4″ when people asked my height and my wife would always round up to 6′ 5″. When I had my first physical in a few years a while back, I measured in at 6′ 3″ 1/2. I’m now rounding up and trying to not to slump.

  3. The last Ad is priceless in its’ level of exaggeration. The lifts are 2″, yet based on an average vertical skull dimension of 8″ from chin to top of head, he manages to grow 6 – 7″ by adding those lifts!

    I’ve got it! They’re made of cork, so maybe they swelled up when his feet started to sweat !? ;-o

  4. 6’3″ and I’ve never been much use on the court, in spite of all the suggestions –foremost those from my 5’6″ dad (who was actually pretty good, in spite of his stature).

    And speaking of seeking out shorter people, I’ve ended up settling in Japan, where perhaps 99% of the population is well below my height. I’m always happy to help others with the stuff on hight shelves, though 😉

  5. thanks siteI like that the ads not only advertise getting the girl, but being taller than her. Always a little chauvinism in ads from sohbet that era.

  6. Gene,

    Hope you are well. I am living outside Chicago these days- and was wondering what you were up to (no, not referencing your height) I am on facebook. Nancy Sanchez

  7. And speaking of seeking out shorter people, I’ve ended up settling in Japan, where perhaps 99% of the population is well below my height. I’m always happy to help others with the stuff on hight sohbet shelves, though

  8. These Elevator Shoes really makes a man look taller than ever. It boost up the confidence and brings the feeling that you are somebody….. and of course I love the advertisement…..

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