Earlier this fall, when it was rumored that Channing Tatum and Zoe Kravitz had started dating, there wasn’t a single person or publication online worried about whether the two stars would be able to kiss each other.
There’s a near-foot height difference between the two (Tatum is 6’1″, Kravitz is 5’2″), but we all agreed that this looked normal. It tracked with our preconceived notions of what a heterosexual relationship could or should look like as it walks down the sidewalk.
When the script is flipped, though, and the female partner is taller, the act of kissing apparently takes on a new, acrobatic meaning. As Tom Holland and Zendaya, stars of Spider-Man: No Way Home, have made the press rounds ahead of this week’s huge release, they’ve had to answer a similar question over and over again: How the hell do you do it?
The question makes no sense. Holland is two inches shorter than Zendaya — he’s 5’8″ to her 5’10”. Even if Zendaya were wearing high heels, there’s nothing stopping these attractive human beings from tilting their heads towards each other for a smooch. Which, by the way, is something they have a lot of time to practice; Holland and Zendaya’s on-screen romance blossomed into an official IRL relationship this year.
But the implication is clear, and it’s a pretty obvious double standard. Men should be taller. Men shouldn’t have to stand on their tippy-toes to peck the woman they’re supposed to “provide for.” It’s a backwards, retrograde concept, and it’s a surefire sign of lazy interview prep that so many show hosts have broached the subject throughout their tour.
As that tour winds to an end, Holland finally had something to say about it. Speaking to SiriusXM recently, he called height difference expectations a “stupid assumption.”
“It’s ridiculous. I remember when we were doing the Spider-Man screen tests, I mean, you’d have to ask [director] Jon Watts this question, but every girl we tested for both roles was taller than me. And I wonder whether that was a decision Jon had made, there was no-one who tested that was shorter than I was. To be fair, I am quite short. So maybe that’s a decision Jon Watts made, and something he was aware of, and he wanted to break the stereotype.”
Zendaya backed up her beau, pointing out that their height difference is pretty much negligible, and that she appreciated Watts didn’t try to “cheat” the kissing scene in Spider-Man: Far from Home, by artificially making Holland look taller.
Are gendered height difference standards the biggest issue in Hollywood right now? No, probably not. Holland and Zendaya even seem more amused than annoyed by the concept. But small wins here and there helps chip away at the larger laundry list of silly expectations in heterosexual relationships.