Virat Kohli was recently spotted posing for a promotional event, with budding tennis player Karman Kaur Thandi. In a photograph from the event, doing rounds on social media, Kohli is seen standing on a podium next to Thandi to appear taller than her. Vanity you think?

People who are defending Kohli say that it was the organisers who made him stand on the podium because otherwise, the photo wouldn’t have looked “aesthetic.” Wonder if anyone would have needed to stand on the podium if the genders were reversed. In which case, Kohli could have also politely declined to propped up than the budding athlete if he was comfortable being at the short end of a promotional photo shoot.

This isn’t just about Kohli stepping up on a podium for the sake of vanity. Most Indian men are unaccustomed to being in the vicinity of tall women.

Being someone who is taller than the majority of women, in any given room, I know what I am talking about. Ever since puberty hit me, I gradually moved from the first bench to the last in my class. And then boys became a bit awkward around me. Especially during class and college photographs, guys shorter than me would cautiously steer away, searching for another corner, where they could hide their insecurities.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • A photo of Virat Kohli stepping on a podium to match the height of tennis player Karman Kaur Thandi, at a promotional event, is doing rounds on social media.
  • Why can’t fragile male egos deal with being the shorter gender at any event?
  • Our society has played a big part in the propagation of this stigma that whenever a man and a woman are in close vicinity, a man should be the taller one.

But life has been much worse for my five feet nine-inch-tall younger sibling. I have seen a look of insecurity cross the eyes of most men, when they meet her for the very first time. My sister’s height is giving our mummy darling sleepless nights, now that she is of the marriageable age. The traditional Indian mother in her keeps fussing over the scantiness of available prospects for her younger daughter, who can match her height. Heaven knows how our relatives and well-wishers will cope, if ever my tall sister settles down with a boy an inch or two shorter than her.

Men alone are not responsible for their fragile feelings, when it comes to their height. Our society has played a big part in the propagation of this stigma that whenever a man and a woman are in close vicinity, a man should be the taller one. A rule, most traditional households still abide by when seeking marital alliances between prospective brides and grooms.

How fragile is masculinity, if it feels intimidated by a mere few inches of height?

If it makes a man feel that all his professional achievements will fade away, just because he is shorter than the woman standing next to him. It mirrors everything that is wrong about the way we perceive gender and masculinity. And shows how we have over generations cultured men to be insecure and vain. Today they are more conscious about their appearance, than the standing of their mettle.

Achievements of a cricketer like Kohli are quite magnanimous. Standing next to a tall woman sans a prop up won’t diminish them.

Achievements of a cricketer like Kohli are quite magnanimous. Standing next to a tall woman sans a prop up won’t diminish them. This is something the man in question, organisers of such events and even the general public should acknowledge. Giving him a podium to appear taller, in fact somehow dwarfed him. Hopefully, Kohli himself will make it a point to not fall for such tropes in the future.

Pic by Indian Express

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own

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