Miniature: something small of its kind – Webster’s Dictionary
objects – miniatures – ever touch your heart? They touch mine, quite often, and
I wonder why. Maybe it’s because at 150 centimeters – four feet 11 inches – I’m
something of a miniature myself. Or maybe it’s that we humans are wired to feel
tenderness for the little and cute.
This is understandable when it’s
newborns we’re talking about. Their smallness and sweetness (read: helplessness)
are their greatest assets, Nature’s way of ensuring that parents will stick by
their offspring in spite of all the effort involved in raising them.
also go quite gooey over kittens and puppies.
In myself, however, such
feelings extend beyond the living to the inanimate.
toward a pot of face cream? Ridiculous! Yet so it is.
When my daughter
returned from India a few years ago, she had in her backpack a yellow-and-white,
cute eggshaped container labeled “Emami Malai- Kesar Cold Cream with Herbs – 5
Power Winter Formula.” Smaller than a pingpong ball, it measured about 3
cm. from top to bottom and side to side, and I wondered how those five
powers could all fit inside.
Humorously emblazoned on this already
minuscule item were the words “25% Extra Free.” I fell for it immediately. Every
so often, I pick the little thing up and commune with it. There’s a relationship
Then there’s the “baby” glass sauce-boat, which lives on my
kitchen shelf nestled safely inside its “mother,” an identical, larger version
of the same item. The sight of that cozy duo delights me too, and when I serve a
meal, I try not to keep them apart too long.
I could continue with a list
of items – some having no practical use – that I hang onto simply because, being
miniatures, they strike a chord in some inner emotional recess, and I simply
can’t let them go.
AMONG Israelis, I am not alone in my affection for the
In 1986, Israeli entrepreneur Eiran Gazit visited the famous
Dutch miniature town of Madurodam, and was inspired to create an Israeli
version. It eventually took shape in 2002, near Latrun in the Ayalon Valley, and
contains miniature replicas of 350 local buildings and sites important to
Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Called Mini Israel, its slogan is “See
it all – small.”
That’s kind of ironic, considering that the entire State
of Israel – the disputed territories included – isn’t much bigger than New
Jersey, the US’s fifthsmallest state. An alternative name for Mini Israel could
well be “miniature within a miniature.”
Regrettably, however, our tiny
country, its many marvels notwithstanding, is one miniature that elicits scant
tenderness or sympathy from the bigger nations of the world.
living, globally, during an era in which, almost daily, more and more things
appear that we can scarcely comprehend, never mind control. I think miniature
objects have an appeal because they are compact and controllable and make us
feel large and potent by comparison.
Taking the example of Mini Israel,
when we stand alongside a Knesset building that is only half our height, or
less, even though we know the inversion in size is just temporary, the
juxtaposition is balm to an ego under constant assault from a too-fast-changing
‘CAN short people wear tall shoes?” I once heard a small child ask
her mother. I’d have loved to know her reply, but they moved out of
The mother’s answer might well have been, “Kim Jong-Il
The North Korean dictator is known to wear five-inch platforms.
Without them, in his socks, he stands at less than five feet, according to some
The phrase “Napoleon complex” (Bonaparte reportedly measured
between five-two and five-seven) illustrates the truism that lack of height
doesn’t impact the exercise of power. Indeed, the opposite often holds
It’s quite disturbing how many leaders in our own time have been –
to echo the philosopher Hobbes – nasty, brutish and short.
was five foot eight or nine, Stalin was just five-six, and Mussolini not much
more than five feet tall. The New Yorker
has put Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s height at
five-four. Yasser Arafat was five foot two.
“If you think you are too
small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito,” declared
coiner of aphorisms Betty Reese.
‘I AM sick of being a shorty,” writes
one blogger on the Internet. “For those of you that were blessed with height, I
am insanely jealous... Not only can you reach stuff, but you get to eat
“ I love being short,” counters another.
“You can fit into
a lot of stuff like a locker to hide from bullys [sic]. Granted you are also
small enough to get stuffed in one, but that’s a chance I am willing to
It’s a point of view.
“I always have an excuse to get
someone else to change lightbulbs,” enthuses a third, “and I don’t fall as far
when I trip.” Moreover, “my feet will never hang off the end of a
Yet more: “My height wouldn’t cause difficulties for me when
traveling in pretty much any foreign country... and I generally don’t have to
look out for low-hanging branches. I will never hit my head on a door-frame
unless I am wildly uncoordinated, and I can sit comfortably in most adult-sized
chairs and drive comfortably in most cars.” (Not to mention fitting into economy
seats on airplanes.) Finally, “I have a lower cancer and heart disease risk than
my tall peers, and am less likely to die in a car crash.”
FOR me, my
height has always been a mixed blessing.
On the one hand, I’ve enjoyed
being able to wear children’s clothes as well as adults’; hardly ever, in my
dating days, met a guy who was too short; and learned to accept, if not exactly
love, being called “cute” and “sweet.”
On the other hand, I’ve yearned to
be slender and willowy; to see easily over people’s heads in a crowd; to look
someone in the eye when we’re both standing, and to not feel as if I’m in a pine
forest while waiting in line.
The grass often does look greener in the
other guy’s garden; but then, you can grow some pretty nice stuff in your own if
you cultivate it.
I guess Westerners whose short stature really bugs them
could relocate to an Asian country – where they may suddenly find themselves
seen as tall.
A FRIEND who read this piece before publication commented
that short women are often viewed as bossy and controlling.
your motif,” she said, smiling, “the home and family are a sort of miniature of
society as a whole, where the woman, powerful though her position is, must
‘rule’ gently and wisely for the unit to function optimally. Bossiness is
Are you referring to me? I asked her,
suspiciously. “Not necessarily,” she replied. “But forewarned is