Small, dark and handsome - championing the shorter man
Small is beautiful, says Julia Molony, who has long been a keen advocate for the vertically challenged male
Small, dark and handsome. That's the way I like 'em. It might not be the traditional fairy-tale archetype of a romantic hero, sure. But what do fairy tales know anyway of real, flesh-and-blood men?
I, however, flatter myself that, in the almost 20 years since I started my romantic career, I have learned a thing or two.
And one of the main things I've discovered for sure is that the ones for me are the small ones. After extensive research in the field, I've discovered that my favourite kind of fella is one who is mini in stature and mighty in character.
But then, if I was delivering this view to you in person, you would not fail to notice that I am hardly Amazonian myself. When measured first thing in the morning, I come in, on the button, at 5 feet 3 inches. So it's not really a surprise that my boyfriend is not a tall man. He's a nano-male of Mediterranean origin, and his less-than-average-height suits me just fine.
There is, you might assume, a certain natural order to the tendency for shorties to stick together. The tall and long-legged match as plainly as the small and stumpy - it's like some kind of evolutionary sorting-mechanism, designed to facilitate easier snogging and childbirth.
And, to be fair, even the littlest of the suitors I've had in the past, has had a couple of inches height-advantage over me.
Except that, with the benefit of the view from this lowly vantage point, I've come to firmly believe that far too many women are more hung-up on the height thing than is good for them.
I'm always amazed whenever I hear single ladies moaning on about a shortage of hot men, while, in the same breath, dismissing out of hand the smaller ones. They'll cheerfully date alcoholics, narcissists or compulsive liars. But ask them to consider an evening in the company of a gentleman who isn't at least half a head taller than them (in four-inch heels) and you'll run into an instant, non-negotiable deal-breaker.
Ask them why, and they'll talk about needing to feel feminine. To be towered over, or physically protected. All perfectly understandable, I'm sure. But the reality is, the moment that you move past the first five minutes with someone, it quickly becomes clear that a man's capacity to make a woman feel protected or feminine has much, much more to do with how he behaves than how he measures up in feet and inches.
I have dated tall men as well as short ones. I am not prejudiced against the former. Many of them were lovely people. But there is a conventional wisdom which dictates that a man's sex appeal correlates directly to his height - something that I have never found to be true.
Indeed, the appeal of the smaller male is a little-known secret. It is the surprising discovery, I suspect, behind that special, cat-that's-got-the-cream smile shared by Sophie Dahl - who is still defiantly striding around in her stilettos, despite being 5 feet 11 inches tall and married to Jamie Cullum, who is a mere 5 feet 4 inches in height - and Carla Bruni, seen proudly towering over her hubby, Nicolas Sarkozy.
The outside world might wonder why these statuesque, successful, beautiful women are drawn to men of such diminutive proportions, but a closer look at the females' faces suggests they might know something you don't.
They know that height means nothing once you are horizontal. And that it has no bearing on the really important turn-ons between two people, such as chemistry, humour, open-mindedness and effort.
They know, above all, that with their pint-sized fellas in tow, they're on to something special - something that the rest of womankind seems to have carelessly overlooked.