Tall women: Who WANTS to hide?

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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?

13 thoughts on “Tall women: Who WANTS to hide?

  1. I’m an Amazon goddess from a family of Swedish midgets and I LOVE IT. I feel so powerful in a pair of heels, an obvious alpha female towering over the pocket-girls, as I like to call the “adorable” type girls the Jezebel mentioned. (Those girls always have the shiniest hair!). I get off on being a tall, strong woman in heels.

    HOWEVER. There is a part of me that identifies with the Jezebel piece. Both of my long-term relationships have been with men who were 5’8″ and nothing bursts your empowerment bubble like feeling like the most beautiful, glamorous, desirable woman in the world at six feet tall only to have your man say, “Do you HAVE to wear those?” upon first seeing you. True, I shouldn’t let what one person thinks of me dictate my own opinion of my self (there are reasons I’m not with those people anymore), but it does seem like there is a large chunk of the population that is a bit threatened by a tall woman.

    So I say fuck it. I don’t have time for a man who isn’t turned on by my stature. I went to a wedding with a guy who was 6’4″ and I bought shoes that clocked me in at 6’1″ I nearly climaxed when I tried them on. I was on fire that night. Tall, sexy, confident, and fucking HAPPY.

  2. I feel like if you’re ever described as “cute” or “nice” you’re doing something wrong, because those are the most BORING descriptors EVER. I’d rather be “ugly” or “weird” any day of the week.

    Maybe there are people who feel threatened by tall women. But you know what? It’s not our job to cater to other people’s insecurities. I’m glad you’re not with Negative McNegativepants anymore, he sounds like a buzzkill. However, the shoes that made you 6’1 sound awesome. Confidence heels–there’s something to this idea.

  3. I’m not even tall and that Jezebel article irked me! Mainly because the author thought she was some kind of giant at 5’9. 5’9?!?!? I didn’t even think that was properly “tall”! And also because she managed to write a whole article about how un-feminine tall women are without ever mentioning models, which seemed like a rather willful admission.

    Anyway, I love THIS article. Especially this bit: “I feel like a walking piece of architecture, something powerful and awesome in the purest sense of the word.” I think I’ll send that to my beautiful 5’10 sister.

    1. Yeah, I think she said she was 5’8. Really?? I was closing in on that height when I was nine! I don’t want to tell her how to feel, but come on. Either people are exceptionally sensitive to height where she lives, or there’s a whole lot else going on there.

      I’m glad you liked it! I hope your sister does too.

  4. I’m a bit taller than average but I am always in awe of the taller ladies amongst us. Tall women always seem more graceful, elegant and, in contrast to what Jezebel says, feminine. Besides, you’re tall enough to look over (or down on) all of those judgmental people anyway.

  5. Wow. I’m a short girl, but really? This is why I stopped reading Jezebel. Absolute drivel. Wear your head tall, even if it’s just at 5’3″ like me!

    1. Usually I like Jezebel, but this really rubbed me the wrong way. It made feel good that the comments were mostly “What the fuck?” based, but still.

      I totally agree. Walk tall, however tall that happens to be.

  6. Amen, Sister!

    Someone had to say that. I, too, read the Jezebel Article and thought “What the hell was she thinking?” Come one! I’m tall, and it rocks. How can anyone be tall and not think of it as the best thing on earth? Sure, some guys are smaller than I am. Well, actually, most guys are. Let me get those heels, guys.. oups, yes, you’re kind of small. Sorry. Your problem, not mine. I’m not here to slouch and hide and be “cute”: Actually, if someone called me cute, I’d be offended. I can be beautiful and elegant, careing and graceful, wise and witty – but don’t call me cute. My name is not Kitty with a greeting as first name.

    I work in a highly competitive academic setting, and I always found that my tallness made people take me serious. I know that relying on something that accidental isn’t very appropriate, but it is true. When I rise to say something, or get up to go to the front of a room, people look at me and take me seriously. (Ballet trained posture helps a lot, too). People look up, not down. They listen. I found my equally smart friends (lawyers, academics, hell – smart woman. Kick-ass-smart-woman) to always struggle with the conception that they are cute. They need to dress the part to be taken seriously, to be considered a professional. I don’t. I just have to get up and look down. That helps.

    That being said, here’s a funny story: I once worked with a wonderful, super-smart, clever, witty professor. And she was tiny, tiny, tiny. So whenever I came to her to get new instructions or report on the things I had finished she made me sit down immediately, even when the usual way of doing these things called for me to stand and for her to sit. I always had to sit down, and then she’d take a seat opposite of me, streched her back as straight as she could, smiled, and said “Now we’re on the same level. Let’s start.” It was very, very funny, and I couldn’t help smiling everytime I went to her. She didn’t approve of my heels a lot..

    I do think that the tallness-debate still echos the idea that woman have to be small, easy to handle, not-powerfull. Being tall equals power. And isn’t that what we want?

  7. So glad I found your blog!! And I LOVED this article. I’m 6′ and have always been insecure about being the “big” girl. I’ve always wanted to be seen as cute and little. Now, maybe, just maybe, my tune has changed a little. While I’m not quite ready to throw on a pair of heels, today and in the future, I’ll stand a little taller. Thank you!


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