A step up for the short guy

Shoes that make you taller, they said. Without anyone noticing or suspecting a thing, shoes that make you a whole 10 centimetres taller!

They had me. I'd be 190cm-plus - part of the elite, one of the big boys. People would really look up to me. Then the bad news - they only made them up to an 11. I'd give them a try anyway I said.
They turned up promptly. I ripped open the box and found a pair of normal-looking leather shoes. Beautifully made, with that lovely new-shoe smell. And cunningly, discreetly designed lifts in the heel. But they were too small! I felt short changed, cut down to size, underdone. I'd been looking forward to being super-sized - now I almost knew what it felt like to be pint-sized.

People, you may have noticed by now, come in all shapes and sizes - tall, thin, fat, short. And body types have their own stereotypical characteristics - the jolly fatso, the lugubrious string-bean. The ones who get the worst press - ''grubby little fingers, dirty little minds'' - are the small men.

''Short man syndrome'' it's called. The less-tall man, so the stereotype goes, tends to overcompensate for his lack of stature by being bellicose, brash and boorish. Think Attila the Hun, Phil Spector, Napoleon, John Howard, a few ex-bosses of mine, or anyone who claims to be of ''average height''. Short and hating it.  Missing out on the girl, not getting served, not getting to the top floor just because they're of less than average height. It's just not fair.
One recent serious scientific survey claims that tall men attract the ladies because they remind them of our violent ape-like forebears. Professor David Carrier, from the University of Utah has found that the taller the man, the better they are in a fight. "Women are attracted to powerful males because powerful males can protect them and their children from other males," he said.

These sorts of surveys are the lifeblood of today's media and, I reckon, can all be taken with a pinch of salt. But nonetheless, if you were to ask me I would posit that any man below about 185cm (six foot) wouldn't object to being taller, and any below about 170cm would think of themselves as short. So how - if he feels his stature is a problem - can the shorter man deal with it?

English couturier Hardy Amies has some good advice in his ABC of Men's Fashion from 1964: "Dapper is the adjective mostly applied to a short man, and that is what he should strive to be. He should wear neat, smooth, well-proportioned clothes. He should never allow the little space given to him to be cut up by patterns in design, or contrasts in colour.''

Alternatively, and to again quote Randy Newman, they can wear platform shoes on their nasty little feet. But the platform has to be concealed; these aren't the Seventies when, say,  Elton John (169cm), could wear 30cm platforms with impunity.

And that's why some men, worried that they won't be seen as tall, sabre-tooth tiger slayers are using footwear like the Altura JNK shoe (prices range from $170-$190).

These are the ones that I had been hoping to try. The ones I'm still disappointed about not wearing and the ones that Harry from the Altura press release now has on his feet: ''The shoes are just the perfect mix of style, design and practicality,'' he gushes. ''I just love how deceptive the lifts are - no one suspects that you are wearing anything other than a normal pair of stylish shoes.''

So the littler men will probably like them - and so, it seems will their women who can finally wear high heels without towering over their partner. Mrs Manscaping (157cm) wouldn't mind some for herself ''for rock concerts and bars in Amsterdam''.

Do you think of yourself as short and if so, does it bother you?  And what have you done to make yourself look taller?