When I told a colleague the other day that I was taller than my husband, she gave us an unexpected thumbs-up – even though it’s more unusual for women to date and marry shorter men.
“That’s great,” she said, which was probably the first time anyone has ever congratulated me for standing several inches higher than Jun. “Because you know, it’s better for couples in China to be of different heights than the same height.”
“Even when the woman is taller than the man?” I asked her.
While she conceded it might not be true for rural areas, she felt confident that this was the case for big cities in China, like Beijing.
Meanwhile, if I had been in a comic that moment, I would have had a string of question marks circling about my head. Her assertions clashed with everything I thought I knew about dating preferences and height in China. Sure, I had seen other couples like me and my husband – including one of his best friends from middle school who was a few inches shorter than his own wife. But was this really a thing? Did urban China truly applaud any height differences between couples, even when it’s the woman who’s taller?
Well, one thing is sure — there are people in China who think it’s better for couples to be of different heights, including someone on a Chinese dating show called “Take Me Out”. (People actually wrote an article (in Chinese) to discuss and challenge the idea.) And there are conversations about what is apparently the “ideal height difference” (in Chinese) (it kind of boggles my mind people would actually contemplate this, down to the exact centimeters.)
But when they say it, does it apply to all couples, even those who belong to the taller wife, shorter husband club?
While it’s not a definitive answer, I happened to come across a rather telling Baidu Zhidao thread under the following question:
What if you you walk down the street and see a couple. They are almost the same height, with the woman taller than the man. Would you think it strange? (如果你们走在街上看到一对情侣，这对情侣的身高差不多高。 女的比男的高一点！你们会觉得奇怪吗？)
Here’s what the best responder had to say (with my English translation):
Thinking it strange is too one-sided to fully understand enough. (觉得奇怪的前提是看法太片面了解的不够多的缘故。)
Different people have different understandings. Early modern society emphasized men over women. Although it’s normal for women to be taller than men, there are some people who have a kind of male chauvinism in their hearts, believing that it’s not proper for women to be taller than men, that it would embarrass the man. (不同的人不同的理解，近代社会就是重男轻女，虽然女比男高也是意见很正常的事情，但是有些人从心里就始终有一种大男子主义的情怀，觉得女比男高就不合适，觉得男人没面子。)
In reality all of this doesn’t exist. Now society emphasizes the freedom to choose who you love. Age is not a problem, height should not create distance. As long as two people are happy, what’s wrong with that? (其实这些都不存在的，现在社会提倡自由恋爱，年龄都不是问题，身高都不是距离，只要两个人喜欢，那又何妨？)
Wang Zulan is also not as tall as his wife Li Yanan. [Jocelyn’s note: See them at the top of this article.] (王祖蓝也一样还没他老婆李亚男高呢。)
What do you think?