Some musings about being a tall woman

Tall is only good if you’re also really really thin, is the message I’m getting from pop culture.

If you’re tall and skinny, you’re basically a goddess. I was tall and skinny once, when I was about twelve. That was around about the same time I got a haircut that resembled a mushroom. I wanted a cute pixie cut that I’d seen in a magazine without really understanding that the woman in the magazine had silky straight blonde hair while mine was dark, wavy and – when cut above chin level, surprisingly voluminous. And thus instead of looking girlishly edgy, my hair assumed the shape of a nuclear plume.

Me on the left as a young teen, sensibly wearing a hat.

She carries herself well

This is something I’ve noticed normal-height women say about tall women. She carries herself well. It’s meant as a compliment (I think) but it sort of means: ‘oh look, that tall lady over there isn’t trying to make herself look less tall, how brave of her.’

It’s true, some tall women really embrace their height. They have no problem wearing four inch heels with a bouffant hair do and a glittery dress. They don’t do the dropped-hip hunchy shoulders thing the rest of us do when we have to stand in a circle of normal-height woman like the only giraffe in the savannah. They stride everywhere as if the world’s a catwalk and they do look amazing. That kind of confidence and size commands attention.

Sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly cocky, I’ll give it a go. I’ll see if I too can carry myself well. I’ll put on a dress and high heels and leave the house and strut down the street and then immediately feel like a drag queen and wish I’d never bothered.

What if you’re 5″11 and you don’t want attention??!!!

What if you’re 5″11 and not skinny, but sometimes, just SOMETIMES, you want to be a delicate little thing who can be scooped up and looked after by a big burly man? Nobody can scoop me up. I can be hoisted up sometimes, like a boulder. My 6″2 husband can do it, but only for about six seconds before he runs out of oxygen, and only for a laugh.

I often wonder if being tall has affected my personality. If I was smaller, would I be different? Perhaps I’d be more confident because I wouldn’t feel like I’m taking up too much space all the time, or being looked at by people.

Being tall stops me feeling feminine but at the same time it makes me feel more capable. Perhaps it’s naive but I don’t feel like a target when I go out on my own. I mean, if I was a mugger/rapist/murderer I’d probably bypass the tall ones and go for someone petite. Less hassle.

Most of the time I don’t actually think about my height because I’m used to it and besides, there’s nothing I can do about it. You can’t diet a few inches off your skeleton.

In a nutshell, bad things about being a tall woman include:

  • Feeling like a man
  • Being looked at
  • Not knowing what to say when people say ‘you’re so tall!’
  • Taking up too much space
  • Not feeling right in high heels
  • On that note, having ginormously long and narrow feet that are half a size bigger than the biggest size stocked in High Street shops.
  • Also on that note, being too stubborn to shop in a specialist tall person shop so  ending up with horribly deformed toenails and arthritis.
  • Dresses looking like t-shirts on me.
  • Short shorts looking like denim thongs.
  • Hard to hide.
  • Leg raises, squats and lunges are harder.
  • Fear that people assume I want to be the alpha female.
  • Feeling silly in old country pubs with low beams.
  • Breasts look smaller due to larger body.
  • Severely limits pool of men you can be attracted to and feel sensible standing beside.

Good things about being a tall woman include:

  • Can see over people’s heads at gigs.
  • Can’t easily be overlooked in a group of chatting men.
  • People think twice about beating you up.
  • Get further in fewer steps.
  • Better at getting over large puddles.
  • Can kid self that if you were a bit skinnier and wore more make up you could probably be a model.
  • Can kid self that you need bigger portions because you are size of man.
  • Can laugh at short friends in pain due to high heels on night out.
  • Can reach things on shelves and feel good about self when old ladies in Tesco ask you to get things down for them and you can.
  • Can make obnoxious but slightly shorter people feel frustratingly inferior.
  • Get to sit in front seat of car because of long legs.
  • Get to say ‘I weigh that much because I’m tall.’

That’s all I can think of right now. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments. And short people – you’re allowed an opinion too.