It turns out that size does matter.
Indeed, a new study published in the British journal Nature has finally made it official: Tall guys get the girls.
A group of Polish and British researchers has found that tall men are more sexually attractive and have more children than shorter men.
According to the study, bachelors are significantly shorter than married men, and that men who have sired at least one child are about 1½ inches taller than men without children.
"Tall men tend to have more children, presumably because they are more attractive. They are more likely to get married, and whether they get married or not, they are more likely to produce more offspring," said Robin Dunbar, the study's lead researcher and an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Liverpool.
The news brought little surprise in some quarters yesterday.
Sue Yee-Zoet, a 5-foot-1 Torontonian, admits that she had always lusted after taller men and finally married one. Her husband Jim, a part-time actor, is 7 feet 1 inch tall.
"Let's face it -- it's not your brain that draws you to somebody. . . . Even though feminism is here, I still like the feel of big shoulders," she said. "It makes me feel safe and feminine."
Stan Keyes, a 46-year-old member of Parliament who stands 6 foot 6, says women may be drawn to tall men because they exude confidence. However, he says, despite his height, he didn't get a date with the prom queen. But he did date the prettiest girl in Grade 13 in his final year of high school.
"So maybe there is something to it," he said.
A number of short men, however, thumbed their noses at the study's findings yesterday.
"It's absolute nonsense," declared John Hemphill, a 5-foot-2, 53-year-old salesman at Short Man by Brown's, a men's wear store in Toronto. "I've done all right for myself. In fact, I'd like to think short men have more sex appeal than tall men do because they've got something to prove."
Leonard Rebick, a Toronto psychotherapist, said short men have often tried to overcompensate for their frames by playing up other attributes.
They often focus on their intelligence or their sense of humour to divert attention from their height. They also have to work harder at looking attractive in other ways -- in their dress and their level of fitness, Dr. Rebick says.
Scott Matalon, 5 foot 3, says he likes to make up for his height by dating tall women. His high-school sweetheart was a 6-foot-tall model. The way he sees it, men fall in love with faces, and women fall in love with voices.
"If you're short, you have to be like a bull-terrier. You can't give up. You have to keep talking and talking and talking to get women's attention. We have to make up for our height -- or lack of it -- with our personalities."
In the report released yesterday, researchers at the University of Liverpool and colleagues at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Wroclaw studied the medical records of more than 4,400 Polish men between the ages of 25 and 60.
They found taller men were more sought out by women in nearly every decade. The only exception they found was for men born during the 1930s who reached adulthood shortly after the Second World War, when there was a shortage of eligible men.
Their findings support Darwin's theory of sexual selection, an evolutionary process based on preferences for specific traits in one sex by members of the other sex.
Muggsy Bogues of the Toronto Raptors, at 5-foot-3 the shortest player in the history of the National Basketball Association, laughed uproariously when asked to comment on the study's findings following last night's game in Toronto against the Orlando Magic.
"I'm going to stay out of that article there," said Mr. Bogues, who is married with three children. "I'm not going to give you an answer on that one. I don't know about all that."
Antonio Davis, Toronto's 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward, occupies the locker stall next to Mr. Bogues. Size doesn't matter, the married father of two said.
"Size ain't got nothing to do with it -- personality, just the way you handle yourself," he said.
Motioning around the locker room to emphasize his point, Mr. Davis concluded: "We got a lot of big goofy guys in this room."