Something To Say

"Shorties like me will know what my biggest problem is!"

Small-minded people are the bane of my life, says the pint-sized pop star!

"A lot of people - especially the male variety - seem to think that because I'm short I'm also extremely sweet, ever so vulnerable and incapable of looking after myself! They reckon I'm in need of constant protection, and - worst of all - pretty dumb. 

They try to manipulate me and come on all condescending...and it happens such a lot that I've now found it to my advantage. Because, although I'm more than able to look after myself, it can work wonders to turn on that little-girl-lost charm! 

When people see me in films or on television I must seem larger than life, because when they meet me in the flesh they're always surprised to find that I'm under five feet tall  - four feet 11 inches, to be precise! 

Now, of course, being short does have its drawbacks, but I'm certainly not complaining. Far from being a handicap, it can be a positive asset - it all depends on your outlook. 

The only time my height (or rather, lack of it) starts to get me down is when it stops me doing something for myself. I'm very independent, so things that other people might regard as a slight hindrance affect me more as a matter of pride. 

The biggest problem is not being able to reach things. Let's face it, it's hardly convenient to have to stand on a chair when you want to get something off a rail in the wardrobe, 
or stand on a ladder to water the plants! 

Everyday situations can get a bit embarrassing, too. If I want to drive a car I have to make sure that the seat will go a long way forward so that I can reach the pedals, and shopping in the supermarket can be a real chore if I can't reach the shelves! 

Shopping for clothes can be a bit of a nightmare, too. Trousers and skirts usually need to have at least 10 inches chopped off the hems, and waists are often far too big. But I do get some great outfits in the boyswear and teenage departments. 

In fact, now that I've come to terms with being a shorty, I don't even bother to wear high heels anymore. I spent years hobbling round in stilettos. Now I prefer to bounce around in flatties - and I feel much more energetic and robust.

When I was younger, being small was a constant source of worry. I stopped growing at 11, while all my classmates were shooting up into six-foot giants. 

I couldn't even get in to see an X-rated film until I was 22 because I looked so young - still, at least I was small enough to sneak in the back! 

Luckily, I wasn't too interested in boys during my school days   - singing and dancing came first. Even now I'd never go for the sort of man who wants a long-legged dolly bird - they're just not my type. I like men who like me for what I am - not my inside leg measurement. 

On the contrary, it's often men who get into trouble over my size. Thinking that small equals sweet and vulnerable is a common misconception. Another popular prejudice is to think that short people are stupid because we look younger than we really are - but that's yet another thing we can turn to our advantage. 

I find it very easy to manipulate people - there's a certain breed of person who's scared witless of little people. 

I don't blame them. Small people are often tough - we have to be. Being short on height usually means that we're big on independence and individuality to make up for it. In my 
profession especially, being small can be a big boon. If you look a lot younger you can cover the whole spectrum of characters from teenage kids upwards, and I'm never going to be in the awkward position of towering over my leading man! 

Of course, like any other short person, I do have the odd moments when I yearn for a somewhat higher profile. But given the choice, I'd rather be too short than too tall. 

You're never going to be able to change your height, but you can change the way you feel about it. I've learnt to turn what could have been a shortcoming into an advantage. As long as you're fit and healthy, I don't think it really matters how tall - or short - you are. 

After all, who wants to go around ducking doorways, shoulders hunched and chin stuck in their chest for the rest of their lives.

Woman's World, 1986