Of governable height? (2021)

Photo: the Moderate party

This picture went viral. Memes were made. “Ulf Kristersson is growing so fast,” wrote Aftonbladet. The reason: Ebba Busch is 1.74 m tall – Ulf Kristersson 1.69 m.

By @meme_lord_jeki on Instagram

People speculated on social media if Ulf got the Tom Cruise treatment, ie. if he was standing on a box or something?

Or if M/KD was inspired by the British court, which consistently portrayed Prince Charles as a full head taller than Princess Diana, even though they were both 1.78m in real life.

By Philip N Cohen

– I have managed to solve the mystery. The picture was taken in an escalator in the Riksdag. Ulf Kristersson is on the step over Ebba Busch, the Moderates’ press secretary went out and said.

The problem is that there are other pictures where Ulf gets a size boost from a woman shrinking nearby. In Uppsala Nya Tidning, party colleague Therez Almerfors seems to creep in a little discreetly behind him – even though the platform they are standing on looks to be big enough for both of them.

Photo: Jonas Kihlander, Uppsala Nya Tidning, 2022.

Sociologist Erving Goffman coined a term for this trick back in 1976 (in his book Gender Advertisements): “relative size”. How social rank, power and authority are often expressed in images by exaggerating the size of men in relation to women. Technically, by placing men closer to the camera, or having women sit and men stand, thus giving men the height dominance.

These techniques of distortion also reinforce the impression of human body dimorphism, Goffman argued. Since men are on average taller than women, height is associated with masculinity. But does height have any bearing on a person’s ability to lead a country? Americans seem to think so. It has been 125 years since a president shorter than the average for American men was elected (William McKinley, 1896) and since then the president has been 11.23 cm taller than the average.*

So maybe it’s not totally random that Ulf Kristersson got to stand on the top stair in the escalator?

That height doesn’t have to mean crap for a person’s ability to govern, there is an easy way to state: Donald Trump is the third tallest US president of all time. 😏

*”Tall claims? Sense and nonsense about the importance of height of US presidents” av Gert Stulp, Abraham Buunkac, Simon Verhulst och Thomas Pollet