Petite-Related Websites Growing, But Not Fast Enough

Cynthia Cheng

In 2002, I started an unsuccessful message board where women lacking height can discuss their issues.  Because of its name, it was soon inundated with inappropriate spam posts, prompting me to close the site.  A few years later, I launched Shorty Stories.  

Things have changed since then.  Slowly, but surely, new sites have been popping up, with at least two which are updated on a  regular basis.  One of these sites, Alterations Needed, has recently added a forum for readers to share images of their clothing.  Another major shift is the launch of Bella Petite, a magazine which specifically targets shorter women and even focuses on petite-centric designers.  If the magazine becomes successful, then perhaps more designers will start to focus on petite sizes.

The increase in petite websites is a good thing.  However, this increase is not enough.  There is still very little discussion about being short in mainstream media.  It’s as if being short is not really an issue, while being “larger” is.  To mainstream media, being short isn’t really a problem and the emphasis of “you can always alter things” that average-heighted and tall people have for petites isn’t helping.  A lot of us complain about the lack of petites in the fashion industry (beyond the celebrity cover girls), but at the same time, we aren’t demanding the need for petite clothes.  We are continuing to purchase regular-sized clothing.  By doing so, nothing is being done to make changes.  Of course, it could also be because many petites just don’t care.  They just purchase the brands that they want and aren’t saying a thing.  But why?   With petite sizes a shorter woman will not be spending an arm and a leg on alterations, because she either doesn’t need to or only has a little to nip and tuck. 

Though things are changing slowly, the petite issue could very well grab headlines soon.  Few people were talking about plus sizes a few years back, but now, you see it on websites like Jezebel on a regular basis (so why won’t the site talk about being petite?  Is it really that hard?).  Of course, it would be better if a celebrity comes on board.  However, it’s probably not very likely we’re going to hear Lady Gaga (who is about 5’1″) complain about her height.  She has enough stylists to make her look amazing.  But maybe it’s time to get them in on it?