Tall women: Who WANTS to hide?
Yesterday, Jezebel published a piece about the plight–sorry, “plight”–of tall women that made me feel odd. It was called “Tall Women Can’t Hide” and my first reaction (said out loud to exactly no-one) was “Why the hell would we?”
The entire piece makes it sound like any lady taller than 5’8 walks around with her bizarrely elevated giraffe head trapped in a permanent cloud of shame. “We slouch our shoulders, curve our upper backs in order to make others feel more comfortable around us,” apparently. And then, just in case we didn’t get the hint that we should be feeling like freaks, the REAL question is posited: “Are we less feminine because we tower, less approachable because our natural sight line is over the heads of many?”
I think I speak for many when I say FUCK. THAT. SHIT.
I am 5’10. I’ve been within two inches of this height since fifth grade, and in all that time there have been MAYBE five minutes where I felt weird about being tall. Those five minutes, by the way, happened in seventh grade when we had to take ‘formal dancing’ classes and I was taller than all but one of the boys in my year.
I do not cast longing glances at high heels; I pick them up and wear the hell out of them. I can get up to 6’4 in the right shoes, and I love it. I feel like a walking piece of architecture, something powerful and awesome in the purest sense of the word. I never slump or slouch; my impeccable posture makes me seem even taller. When I go on dates, sometimes I wear flats and sometimes I don’t, but that has nothing to do with catering to male insecurity. It’s more likely because it’s super hot or cold, or I’ll have to walk a lot, or boots look especially good with my outfit.
I love being a tall woman.
It’s a challenge to find pants that are long enough, but you know what? Pants are a challenge for everyone. They’re hard if you are short, if you’re skinny, if you’re fat, if you have big legs and a little waist, if you have a big butt or no butt or a long torso and a giant singing goiter on your midsection. Even if you are, statistically, perfectly average, it will be hard to find pants that look fantastic. That’s just the way pants–hell, clothes in general–are. It’s not like there’s an anti-tall person fashion agenda. In fact, quite the opposite; models are almost exclusively members of the Tall Girl tribe.
Tall women are very visible, but that’s a bad thing only if you think that women should be unobtrusive. Yeah, people look at us, but they don’t think “Wow, what a horrible freak.” Other ladies think “Wow, she’s lucky to be that tall.” Because we are! Sure, some men may look at us and think “Too close to my own height, no thanks.” But some men probably also look at me and think “She’s dressed like an itinerant fortune teller, no thanks.” Or maybe even “I don’t like her freckles.” You can’t control people’s opinions on your look any more than you can control who’s attracted to you, and neither of those things affect who you are as a person. And anyway, who wants to date someone who gets weird about your height? If they really like you but are freaked out because you’re tall, how are they going to handle the really difficult stuff that comes up in a relationship?
So, are tall women seen as less feminine? Doubt it. Height, whether you consciously realise it or not, is totally framed as being desirable in our culture. Once again I call your attention to models and actresses–the epitome of female desirability, for better and for worse, MANY of whom are taller than 5’9. It seems to me that being perceived as feminine has a lot more to do with the clothes you wear and the stuff you do or do not put on your face. Those things are loaded in a way that being tall is not.
“Can I get away with the same assertive behavior a shorter woman would display without being regarded as bitchy, overly aggressive, demanding?” the author asks. This has nothing to do with height and everything to do with the aversion women have to being thought of as a bitch. YOU NEED TO GET OVER THIS, because there are worse things in the world than having some dude call you demanding under his breath. As Tina Fey once said, bitches get stuff done, and we have really important things to do. You cannot let an irrational fear stand in the way of getting stuff done.
Tall girls, don’t ever feel like you have to make yourself smaller or less than to be acceptable. Pull on your biggest heels, throw your shoulders back and stand proud. You’re awesome just the way you are.
And if anyone tries to tell you differently, know that you can step on them. What are they going to do about it, bite your ankles?