Last week, I created two online dating profiles. Both had exactly the same name, brief biography and three photographs – except for one small change. In the first, I said I was 5ft 7in (170cm); in the second, 6ft 3in (191cm).
In reality I stand between 5ft 8in and 5ft 9in. I'm certainly no Andre the Giant, but nor do I consider myself hobbitesque.
Yet it would appear that, for the majority of women, height is a crucial determiner in the search for a partner. My towering alter-ego was "matched" 11 times, while my Lilliputian self received interest from just two women.
A brief search of women's profiles on Tinder tells shorter men what they've long known – taller guys get the girls. Comments include: "If you're under 6ft and live outside zone 2, it probably won't work", "You know what you call boys that are under 6ft? Friends" and "If u arent at least 6'3'', I'm not interested".
Even that cliched cornerstone of what women look for in a man, "Tall, dark and handsome", begins with a very height-ist requirement. Don't get me wrong, we can't berate women for having "types".
My question is this: why is it acceptable for a woman to shirk away from a shorter man, but when that same man declines the advances of a "larger" woman, he is labelled as a superficial pig?
By any measure
Height and weight are both measurements. The only practical manner in which they differ is their permanence. A person's height is considerably more fixed than their weight - which makes it all the more unfair to judge.
It's not as if that man can just nip to his local gym or lay off the cake to transform into modern culture's towering image of attractiveness. Women are stipulating superficial demands without fear of retribution.
A friend of mine had a particularly crushing experience. He had been dating a girl who was a little taller than him for around three months when, the morning after a black-tie dinner and with no warning, she left him.
He told me: "I found out later that because she had been wearing these massive heels, she looked considerably taller than me. And that was the reason she broke it off. One of her friends told her that from behind, it had looked like a mother walking her son to school."
Many of the women's profiles I encountered online included such blunt and bull-headed phrases as "Don't expect a reply if you're under 6ft". "I only date tall men", "The taller the better" and "No short-a----s" also cropped up.
What if they were demands being made by men of women's weight? Jemima Wade, of online dating giant eHarmony, believes that judging prospective partners on their measurements, rather than other attributes, can only lead to misery.
She says: "Beyond ad hoc aesthetics, the things that glue people together are similar values or beliefs, or a similar sense of humour or same ambitions or dreams. None have height or weight restrictions."
Yet online dating site ayi.com (Are You Interested?) published evidence last year showing that, in the UK, a 6ft man is 33 per cent more likely to be contacted by women on the website than one who is just 5ft 8in. Additionally, women are 77 per cent more likely to spurn the advances of someone beneath the average height of 5ft 9in than a man at 6ft 1in or above.
Perhaps female daters should wise up to their hypocrisy. If it's entirely acceptable to use a measuring tape vertically, then so too should it be acceptable to wield it horizontally. Or maybe it's time we dialled down the outrage caused when asking someone about their weight.
We all have our own idea of physical perfection. And seeing that women aren't beating around the bush in their pursuit of it, why should we?
The Daily Telegraph, UK