Thursday, 28 February 2013



Noun. L19.
[from Greek auxein increase + -OLOGY]

The study of growth and development; spec. in MEDICINE, the study of physical growth and development in humans on the basis of measurements such as height, weight, and rate of growth.

Amateur auxology is a growing field (I know - I apologise profusely). As someone that is very tall, I'm regularly asked questions about my height. You're very tall, aren't you? How tall are you exactly? Have you always been tall? Were you the tallest in your school? What's the weather like up there? Etc, etc. Oh it never gets tiresome at all.

It's bizarre that most feel free to comment at length on a tall person's height, but the inverse is generally not acceptable. Most would never say to a short person: My word, you're short! How short are you exactly? Do you mind if I sit down while we talk because I'm tall and you're short and it's giving me a bad back? Etc etc. 

Why is this? It's not because all tall people are fine with being tall and all short people aren't; many tall people, particularly if they have a shy disposition, can be very self-conscious about their height. It could be a cultural prejudice, the notion that being tall is somehow better than being short, something desirable, and therefore it's perfectly acceptable to comment on it. 

Whatever the reasons (and if you have any theories, please do share them in the comments section), auxology itself is rather interesting, even if constantly answering inane questions about your own height is not. Did you know, for example, that:
Do you have any other interesting facts or stories about human growth, development and measurement? If so, do tell!

PS Added on 01/03/13:
For fellow tall people, there seems to an interesting book by the author Arianne Cohen, "The Tall Book: A Celebration From Life On High." I haven't read it, but it's got good reviews on Amazon and has just made my wish-list!

The assertion above that "tall people earn more" has drawn comment (see the comments section) as there also seems to be research that indicates women slightly below average height earn more. Thanks to Bibi for passing on that information. Bibi has also written a very entertaining blog post on the subject entitled "Why Do Tall Women Love Little Men? & Other Questions" which is well worth a read. 


  1. Some have measured differences of 20mm to a healthy and young individual lying down vs standing. When you get up all the spongy material between the vertebra immediately compress. A further slower compression then takes place all day as you pointed out.
    Measure yourself hanging upside down from your feet for maximum length. Gives you a headache though.

    1. Could this be the plot of a CSI episode?

      "You got nuthin' pig! There's no way I could have murdered him. I'm 6ft 5in. I would have to be approximately 20mm shorter to have killed her in that particularly contrived way."

      "Exactly," says Kane, turning and whipping off the shades. "But you well know that a healthy young individual can shrink by up to 20mm during the day due to compression of the spine. So your tall story is ..."

      *pause as Kane puts his sunglasses back on*

      "... coming up a little short, don't you think?"

  2. This auxology thing has fascinated me for years, being not entirely short myself. I just never knew the official term.

    Oh oh, can I add something? Apparently, tall men are considered more attractive to females, and shorter men less attractive. Someone figured out that women would choose to be in a long term relationship with short men only when there are no tall men immediately available. And then cheat on those short men. Yep. People studied that []

    Also, the "tall people earn more" thing is a general rule for tall men. For tall women (in continental Europe, at least) the best paid ones are slightly below average height.

    1. This is very interesting Bibi! Regarding earnings, you're right - the source I've linked does specifically reference tall men (rather than tall people), but I also found various sources saying tall women earn more too. For example:

    2. (I'm going to get way too carried away here) Aha, but that's the Daily Mail!

      I once wrote a blog post on tall women problems (told you I would get carried away, but link here) and found an article by a Hannover researcher, who charted wages x height for both men and women. Now, this is a German study, apparently it doesn't count fort the UK, as illustrated by the amount of articles stating otherwise. Anyhow, this researcher found out (through all sorts of incomprehensible formulas and charts) that either slightly above average height-men, and slightly below average height-women had the highest wages. See here (pdf-file, it's going to want to download)

      I'm going to shut up now, I'm blabbing. Hope you're having a nice day! Also, I'm following you now (found you through -E-'s blog)

    3. Hey Bibi ... no need to shut up! This is very interesting : o )

      I must admit to a great sense of reluctance and even self-loathing as I provided a link to a Daily Mail article (a Daily Mail article!) to support any statement I had made. But ... the Daily Mail is obviously just reporting on research done, and hasn't conducted the research itself, and there were many other articles of reported research that I read that indicated that both tall men and women tended to get paid more. The article also quotes from Arianne Cohen, author of "The Tall Book - A Celebration of Life From On High" (which I haven't read) as saying: "Research shows that tall people are consistently more successful in the workplace. Not only do they earn more but they're more likely to be in leadership positions."

      I'm going to update the post to link both to your very interesting post and this book.

      It's great to have you as a follower Bibi!

  3. RYC on "zaftig": well, it's Yiddish so (some) Jewish people know what it means. I heard it on Curb Your Enthusiasm.