April 2, 2012

The optical illusion that is Mitt Romney.

Seeing Romney in person yesterday — from a distance of about 30 feet — I was struck by how tiny he looked. And yet, on line, his height is listed as 6'2". He looks tall in lots of pictures, like this one. Why did he seem so small in person? Is it an optical illusion? You'd think you'd get the most correct measure of a man when he's right there in the flesh.

I think Henry, in the comments last night, has the answer:
It's because he has a big head.
Yes! I did notice his head was huge. He was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans, not the business suit he always wore for the debates. A suit jacket enlarges the shoulders and the upper chest, making a very large-headed man seem to have more average proportions. But the head itself, unbalanced by a shoulder-padded suit jacket, fools the eye into seeing the body as small.

Here's fashion-and-politics expert Robin Givhan explaining — to me! — the magic of the man's suit:



And here we are later, talking about suits:



Anyway... I know you expect me to get to some deeper analysis about the mysterious feeling of fakeness that people seem to get from Romney. How could he seem less like what he really is when he's there in person? Or something about human beings whose mental dimension is way out of proportion to their fleshly realm below the neck. Something about sexuality, perhaps? Eh. I don't know. You can work on that in the comments. I have other posts to post this Monday morning. I'll just say that Romney was gorgeous in person. He was a perfect dreamboat. Absolutely handsome.

And I don't mean in any way to imply that 5'9" isn't a good height for a man. It's exactly the average height for an American man. It's the height of my husband. (And my ex-husband.) It's just perfect, in my view — very proportionate... though if you're a big-headed man, it might make your head look really huge.

But what do with think of big-headed men? Henry, the commenter who solved my Romney-looks-tiny puzzle, said:
Big head politicians do quite well. Teddy Roosevelt had a big head. William Howard Taft had a big body. There you go.
Looking back over all the men who have been President during my lifetime, I think they all had big heads. Tall, with big heads.

IN THE COMMENTS: Peter Hoh says:
Why did he seem so small in person? Is it an optical illusion?  

Maybe he's best viewed in a state in which the trees are the right height.
Aw, you know, I think he was adorable in that trees are the right height clip. And I understand exactly what he meant: When you go back to the place where you grew up, you see what is — for you, subjectively — normal.

33 comments:

ricpic said...

Most trial lawyers are big headed. The also have huge mains, hairwise. Very impressive. Lionlike.The actor, Anthony Hopkins, though relatively short, has a big head. Which gives him presence. Well, that's it for me on the subject of big heads.

Beta Rube said...

Clinton has a big head, but he thought mostly with the little one (mandatory comment for this post).

Scott M said...

You'd think you'd get the most correct measure of a man when he's right there in the flesh.

It depends entirely on the temperature of the water.

pm317 said...

However, the man with big ears is not doing so well.

Sorun said...

My ex-wife refers to intellectuals as "Fifty-pound heads."

chickenlittle said...

Head size is an ongoing theme at Althouse: link

chickenlittle said...

pm317 said...
However, the man with big ears is not doing so well.

Obama's ears look so big only because his head is so small.

Nichole said...

I've seen him too. And I was surprised how non-imposing he was. I had a pretty obstructed view and mostly had the illusion of his hair talking.

His wife Anne make a big impression on me. She specifically adressed all of the 5 year olds in the crowd. I had my son with me who perked right up at the mention. It was quite an endearing moment.

Henry said...

I think chickenlittle is onto something. If I would hazard a general observation, I would guess that people who are perceived as charismatic (which is to say people who are charismatic) often have big heads. Movie stars, pop stars, politicians. It's a bobble-head world.

Curious George said...

I remember reading somewhere that Merv Griffin said that Pat and Vanah were hired for Wheel of Fortune partly because they had big heads. For some reason it's good for TV.

amielalune said...

Talk about big heads? Robin Givhans? Really? That hateful b*tch is someone you quote as an expert?

And all of the lefties accuse you of being a right-winger. No decent right-winger would have anything to do with her.

Jay said...

Hmmmm, so if Romney is 5'9" how tall is Rick Perry?

rhhardin said...

Never eat anything bigger than your head

Jennifer Whatnot said...

The only concern I have about a man's head is whether I think I might want to procreate with him. My stepmother gave me great advice after bearing two children of my (bigheaded) father's: "When you're falling in love, consider the size of the man's head if you're even considering pushing out his babies some day."

Ah, romance!

Cedarford said...

This sort of overlooks the debates when Santorum and he were roughly the same height but others were noticably shorter when shown all side by side. Romney is a bona fide 6'1, 6'2".

If Romney is "really
5'9", that means that Perry and Cain are short, Newt and Paul are midgets, and poor Michelle Bachmann would be an ideal date size for Tyrion Lannister.

Ann Althouse said...

"When you're falling in love, consider the size of the man's head if you're even considering pushing out his babies some day."

Cephalopelvic disproportion. I have the scars to attest to it.

EDH said...

As a man, it's interesting to see how differently women treat you when you're wearing a suit.

What about "big hands I know you're the one!"

David said...

Romney's mother was the first to learn of this characteristic.

Scott M said...

and poor Michelle Bachmann would be an ideal date size for Tyrion Lannister

Geek.

(although last night rocked)

edutcher said...

Didn't all the women who voted for Willie comment on the size of his head, right after saying they wanted to go to bed with him?

And the women who voted for Jack Kennedy all said they wanted to go to bed with him.

I think we have a theme here and it's got nothing to do with how McCain lost Ann.

PatCA said...

Successful actors also have big heads. So maybe it's a requirement for those desirous of being in public life.

Rusty said...

Ok. Althouse. This needs to be said.
You photograph well, you cutie. Meade is one lucky bastard.



Sorun said...
My ex-wife refers to intellectuals as "Fifty-pound heads."
Well. I too am a member of the big head tribe-hat size 7&7/8. But I am far from an intellectual.

Bender said...

the mysterious feeling of fakeness that people seem to get from Romney

Romney isn't fake. He really does want you to buy a used car from him.

Jon said...

I have an average-sized head, but nonetheless usually appear 2-3 inches shorter than I am, because I have the ability to slouch without looking like I am slouching, and I slouch most of the time. I have won several bets by proving I am really 6'2. Posture might be a factor in Romney's shorter in-person appearance as well- while side by side with the other candidates during the debates, he was probably making an effort to stand up straight.

Incidentally, if Romney is 6'2, that is a good omen for him in the general election, as Obama's height is listed as 6'1, and historically the taller candidate has won the popular vote about 90% of the time (I believe the only exceptions, since the TV era began, are 1976 and 2004).

Bender said...

Pumpkin Head Ted Kennedy had a big head. So does Lurch, who served in Vietnam.

Might be a Massachusetts lib thing.

traditionalguy said...

Let me count the folks who despise Mitt Romney:
The Santorumites.
The Gingrichites.
The Tea Party types like Palin.
The Obama Machine that includes NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN/ MSNBC, NPR,and even half of Fox News.
The evangelicals that fear Mormons are a heretical cult, and add to that Crack MC.
The people in Massachusetts that got to know him.
The Russians.
The Chinese.
The Socialists.
The blacks.

But he will still beat Obama because his personality is so good. Well maybe because the gas price increases are getting our attention.

Somebody get that man some elevated shoes quick.

wyo sis said...

Curious George took my anecdote!

I say, let the big heads of politics at it, my job is to decide which one I'll vote for. My choice won't be about the head size, but size of their commitment to get this country back on stable economic and Constitutional grounds. The exact opposite of Obama's kind of Hope and Change. Eyes on the prize.

Bender said...

I'll just say that Romney was gorgeous in person. He was a perfect dreamboat. Absolutely handsome.

And yet Romney has a significant gender gap against both Santorum and Obama.

Freeman Hunt said...

Exceptionally thin people look exceptionally tall. My father was 6'3" and exceptionally thin. People often thought he was 6'6" or taller.

walter said...

The important thing to note about this is ...err...um...

el polacko said...

you'll find this body-type to be very common in hollywood: short people with large heads. folks are always suprised at how short they are in person because they appear to be much taller onscreen.

Peter Hoh said...

Why did he seem so small in person? Is it an optical illusion?

Maybe he's best viewed in a state in which the trees are the right height.

walter said...

He must have worn lifters in the debate or Perry is tiny. But what about Bachmann? Oh..now we're hitting the substantive issues.