In Real Life

Let's Be Sensitive About Height, M'kay?

When Sega held an event for Yakuza 4, it assembled the game’s producer Toshihiro Nagoshi and the title’s assorted cast. One of the game’s biggest stars, former Morning Musume singer Mari Yaguchi, was one of the smallest.

And when it came time for a Kodak moment, Yaguchi was shuffled into the back. Her small stature accentuated by where she was placed.

This week, a similar photo misstep is leading to Japanese netizens hashing out the importance of balancing short and tall.

The average height for Japanese women is 5 feet 2 inches, while their American counterparts average in at 5 feet four inches. The height of women runs the gamut, but tall is generally considered to be around 5 foot six or 5 foot seven.

Koyuki with co-star Tom Cruise. (Kevin Winter | Getty)
Many Japanese fashion models, such as Yu Yamada or Yui Ebihara are around 5 foot seven, two inches shorter than the Western ideal for models: 5 foot 9 inches. Makes sense taking into account national averages.

Koyuki, who starred in The Last Samurai, got her start as a fashion model, is slightly under 5 foot 6 inches—something that didn’t prevent her from modelling on the runways in her pre-acting days in Paris.

Nor did it prevent Tomomi Itano from appearing on stage with a whole host of fashion models, like the aforementioned Yui Ebihara. Itano is a member of AKB48 and an incredibly popular idol. She’s also under 5 feet tall, which is fine for an idol, but even then, she’s one of the smallest members of AKB48.

Itano’s appearance at a recent press event for bags drew attention to her small stature. Japanese netizens were quick to point out the difference between Itano and the other fashion models.

Itano on stage for Samantha Thavasa. (Fashionsnap)
“Woah, it’s like they’re picking on Itano,” wrote one commenter, regarding her placement in the photo. According to another commenter, the photo opp was more like a line up in which you’re supposed to pick what doesn’t belong. “How did she ever get this gig?” asked one.

Others said she looked like a hobbit or a gnome, even, adding that Itano’s face seemed strained. “There’s nothing that can be done, these ladies are pro models,” wrote one commenter. “I think it’s cute she’s so small,” wrote another.

There’s nothing wrong with being short, but there is with getting short shrift. During photo sessions, don’t put shorter folks in the back! Or in the middle next to taller people.

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(Top photo: Gpara | via はちま起稿)