Hi I’m 19 years old, and in the last couple of years I’ve been having problems with my self esteem, my problem is that I’m too short (5’6) and sometimes when I go out and see very tall people i feel bad about myself because i’m too short and it affects my confidence. i go to the gym regularly, I’m studying filmmaking and most of the time I’m a happy person, I’ve never been bullied about my height and I don’t have any other problems, It’s just that i feel like i would feel better about myself if I were taller and I get sad every time I think this, and I think about it almost everyday, I just want a solution for my self esteem problem, and I want you to help me to cope with this, because i know I’ll be living a better life once i get past this problem. Thank you.
A: What you are describing is consistent with body dysmorphic disorder. This is the diagnosis for someone who feels negative about one physical attribute despite the fact that most people wouldn’t think it matters. We live in a culture that values tall, dark and handsome, it’s true. But it’s also true that some of the sexiest men alive are under 5’7″. Tom Cruise, Prince, and Bruno Mars, Henry Winkler, Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino are all on the list. (For a longer list, see: here.) People admire them for their personalities and their accomplishments and aren’t concerned about their height.
Self-esteem isn’t based on height or any other physical characteristic. It’s based on two things: how you feel about yourself and how you treat other people. The two parts are in interaction with each other. The more good you do for others, the better you will feel about yourself. The better you feel about yourself, the more you will be willing to take risks in enriching your relationships with others.
For that reason, I suggest you focus on what you can contribute to make the world a better place. At first, it will be hard to stop your negative thoughts about your height. But as you get involved in helping others and get closer to people as a result, the less your physical stature will matter.
If you still are obsessed with your height despite making good films and doing more for others, then it may be time for a little therapy. A counselor can help you learn techniques for stopping the negative thoughts and for focusing on all that is going well in your life.
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Aug 2013
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Short on Self-Esteem. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 7, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/08/08/short-on-self-esteem/