“How tall are you?”
I get this question every day, mostly from curious strangers. It’s not unusual for someone to look at me the way Billy Crystal looked up to Max Zamphirescu in My Giant – with wide eyes and disbelief that unlike them, I can reach all of the shelves at the grocery store.
“Um. I’m 5’10”. But I also have a shoe with some lift to it, so it may seem like I’m taller.” The conversation ends with either a blank stare, or one of two follow-up questions. A) Do you model? or B) Do you play basketball? With an awkward shrug, I tell them I do neither of those things. I just watch a lot of television and sit on a lot of couches, since my giant limbs get tired from all of those Doritos I eat. And while I should be used to the height question, it still constantly catches me off guard. My sister is of equal height and my Dad is 6’5”, so I was constantly surrounded by tall when I was growing up.
The problem is, I think some people relate height to power. I once had a boss that wasn’t even 5 foot, and you could tell it was an issue that severely bothered her. Despite the fact that she held a supreme position at the organization, you could tell she was uncomfortable even walking next to me in the hallway.
One day, she confided in me that in high school, she ran for Student Council and couldn’t reach the microphone during her speech – she had to depend on a stool that hid behind the podium. “The whole class laughed at me,” she said before quickly switching the subject. I’m not sure if she won or lost, but I’m sure she blamed either victory or defeat on her size, as opposed to her capabilities.
This insecurity is an issue that many others face and one that is challenging to cure. Shoes and posture-improving stretches aside, there’s no quick fix for height anxiety. Like any personal obstacle, it could be directly to blame as to why you didn’t get where you wanted to go – whether it be scoring a job, or going on a blind date.
Obviously height is something that people can pinpoint about you at first glance but truthfully, I’ve only taken a distinct notice of it when someone acts as if everyone is silently judging them. The more confident you are with who you are, the less people will use “short” or “tiny” as the first adjectives to describe you. Also, remember to keep a light heart about it. If my former boss made a joke about the microphone incident and reminded the crowd how she was small in stature yet soaring with ambition, people would have taken note on how intelligent and socially capable she was.
Never in my life have I heard someone being dismissed from an opportunity based on height, nor will I ever. Even in the modeling industry – although 5’10” and up girls are pegged for the runway, catalog models and commercial actors come in all shapes and sizes. The taller athlete is a fine choice, but it’s the best, most invested athlete that will definitely succeed. It’s not about ideals as much as working hard to achieve what you want to achieve.
Short girls of the world, have faith. As a tall girl, I’ve also suffered from my share of disappointment, confidence issues, and embarrassing situations. While you may have been carded for an R-rated movie at the theater, I’ve walked into tree branches and bumped my head on basement ceilings. While you are probably more comfortable wearing a challenging heel, I’m most comfortable in a black flat (otherwise, I’d be viewing things from ground level). Plus, almost every dress I order online is just a little too short to be considered classy. And unlike you, that’s something that a trip to the tailor won’t fix. Oh, if only.
Photo Credit: ToonJunkie