What it Feels Like to be Really, Really Tall

“You have a very good height.”

This was said to me by a young Indian man running the register at a gas station somewhere in Georgia. I was on a roadtrip with Susan Dennard and Kat Zhang on our way back home from Florida where we’d been on a writer’s retreat for the last 5 days along with Biljana Likic and Sarah Maas.

This was the second time someone had commented on my height, just on this trip alone. The first time it happened was in a gas station in Orlando, FL. The cashier was female, and asked me outright how tall I was.

“I wish you had said that while my friends were around,” I told her. “I get asked that all the time but I don’t think they really believe me.”

And it’s true. Not a week goes by where a stranger doesn’t take it upon themselves to initiate a discussion with me about my body. I have two potential reactions to these questions.

The first is a feeling of genuine connection. As with the girl in the gas station, who went on to tell me about her brothers and father who were above the 6′ line, I felt interest and comradeship from her, and didn’t have a problem talking about my height and the various issues associated with it.

But I can have another reaction. One where I feel shakingly angry, and disturbed. This is caused when I feel people are treating me like a curiosity, a sideshow, a freak. When people look me up and down and say, “Wow!” like I have a third arm or something, or worse, when they say those dreaded three words: “You’re really tall!” How am I supposed to respond to that? “Gee, I hadn’t noticed” ?

This is the body I live in. I’m going about my day, normally, involved in my own thoughts, trying to fly under the radar, when suddenly it all comes crashing down with a simple “How tall are you?”

Suddenly I’m not just a regular person. I’m an object. A curiosity. My face flushes. I see multiple eyes turn in our direction.

“6’2,” I say tersely, but they don’t pick up on my discomfort.

“Wow,” is typically the reaction I get. Nothing more. Just, “Wow.” Their curiosity satisfied, we all go back to standing around awkwardly waiting for the cashier to hand me my receipt so I can leave, feeling like the 50-foot woman stomping through the grocery store.

Let’s be honest: 6’2 is not really all that tall. For guys. But somehow, when people see a 6’2 female they just lose their shit. Case in point:

My boyfriend Chris (who’s 6’3) and I are standing at the counter of a gas station/Dairy Queen (lol what is it with me and gas stations?), buying some sodas and joking like we usually do, when a voice interrupts us from behind:

“How tall are you?”

I don’t turn around. I know what’s coming. The speaker is male, and his tone is that familiar tone I hate. My face flushes. My mouth hardens into a line. Because I’m not going to respond, Chris turns, and asks the guy, “Umm… which one of us?”

No answer. I assume the guy gestures because then Chris says, “Umm… she’s 6’2.”

I do finally turn, because I feel bad not acknowledging this conversation is taking place, just in time to see him say, “Wow. That’s really tall.”

There’s nothing to say. I get our receipt from the cashier and we leave. I still don’t say anything as we get into the car.

“Wow,” Chris says, slamming the door to the truck. “So, like… does that happen often?”

“Yeah… Just curious, does anyone ever ask you how tall you are?”

“Never,” Chris says.

Amazing. Chris is taller than me by an inch, but no one ever asks him how tall he is. Because he’s male. It’s okay for him to be that tall. But as a 6’2 female I’m an oddity.

Here’s the thing about being tall: It’s one of those physical characteristics that is socially acceptable to talk about, because it’s seen as a positive. People tell me all the time they wish they were a bit taller, just like people talk all the time about wanting to be skinnier. But what would happen if I had a different defining physical characteristic? What if I weighed 400 pounds? Would it be okay for someone to come up to me and say, “Wow, you’re really fat” ? Is it okay to say to extremely short people, ‘Wow, you’re really short” ? What about the really ugly? People born without arms, or fingers?

Is it okay to just start talking to a stranger about their body?

I don’t think it is. I don’t want to be a whiner, and there’s totally worse things that could happen other than people constantly asking how tall you are, but I wish people would be more considerate. I wish that people didn’t think it was okay to start talking to me about my body as if it’s public property. As if I’m a creature to be marveled at, something to say to your friends, “Hey guess what I sighted today? A 6’2 female!”

Also it would be nice if girls stopped complaining about being ‘too tall’ at 5’10 :-) Having been that height, I would honestly say that I think 5’11 is the ‘perfect’ height. You’re tall, but not too tall, and you can probably still find shoes in your size.

So social complaints out of the way, let’s talk about the other aspects of being tall:

~~~

Shopping. Where do you shop for clothes? Everywhere, right? You could pick up a new pair of jeans at Target if you like. But when you’re 6’2 your choices get limited in terms of what you can wear, and where you can find clothes. I moved to wearing a lot of skirts and dresses because they’re easier to fit than pants. I can’t go to the GAP and walk out with a new pair of jeans; I have to try on pairs that don’t fit length-wise to get a good feel on the waist, then special order them in a longer size.

And shoes. Oh man do I have a lot to say about shoes. First of all, women complaining about having shoe size 8, 9, or 10 seriously need to get over it and realize how good they have it. Do you know what my shoe size was in grade 8? 15! Freaking 15! Thankfully they seem to have shrunk and I can now squeeze a 13, though 14 is more comfortable.

My feet were at one time so big my mom and I resorted to searching for shoes for transvestites just to find sizes large enough. Do you know how that feels to a 15-year-old girl just trying to find some nice shoes to wear to her Homecoming Dance (for which she does not have a date because she’s the tallest person in her school)?

Thankfully Payless shoes carries up to a size 13, which is great for sandals and stuff, but for work shoes I order through Nordstrom’s. They fit great, but a pair of nice shoes can cost over $100. Being tall is not for those on a limited budget.

I’ve tried Zappos but I just don’t like the selection. Chris urged me to get on Amazon, which does have the bigger sizes, but they also come with a 4-inch heel. If you think I get attention being 6’2, imagine what it would be like at 6’6. No thank you.

Dating. Ah yes, this is the big one. I was my full adult height at 16, a sophomore in high school. In our culture, dating and boy-girl relationships are so important. I agonized all through high school because I didn’t have a boyfriend. The only people who seemed to be interested in me were creepy older men. I wasn’t interested in dating anyone shorter than me, something my shorter friends couldn’t seem to understand. I got so much attention in public in the first place, why would I want to seem like even more of a freak by being part of a physically mis-matched couple? I’ve met women who could do it, and honestly, more power to them, but I couldn’t. Too self-conscious or vain or something, I guess.

My height led to severe self-esteem issues. I thought I would never find anyone acceptably tall enough who would love me (Let’s be honest, I’m not a weirdo [I hope] but I don’t exactly have a mainstream personality. I might be a little difficult to love). I honestly expected to spend adulthood alone in an apartment somewhere, writing because that was my only love. I thought my height made me unloveable.

This was not helped by a few near-dating disasters as a teen. There was one guy who told my sister in a text, “When God was handing out body parts, Savannah must have been in the back of the line because you got all the good ones.”

I was horrified. My sister was one of those stick-skinny girls and I was very curvy. And 6’2. In that moment I felt like a monster.

There was also the time I was on my way out of the mall and I passed two young girls. Still five feet in front of me, one whispered to the other (loudly): “She’s really tall.”

As if I couldn’t hear. It made me so mad in that instant I snapped, “I’m tall, not deaf,” as I passed them. And yes, I did feel bad about it later :-(

Thankfully everything changed when I met Chris. Usually when I meet people taller than me I get intimidated. They just feel so large. But Chris felt normal. In a world where I was the odd one out, he felt life-sized to me. And thankfully he wasn’t one of those tall guys who fetishize tiny women. Chris made me feel normal and beautiful. He made me realize there really was someone out there for me, and being scared that I’d be alone forever because of my height was ridiculous.

Here’s the truth, for any tall young women out there listening: High school is not your time. College is where you’ll meet lots of tall guys, some of whom will even be interested in dating you. Just hold out a few more years.

Sports. I don’t get this one as often anymore, but when I was younger the most common question asked was, “Do you play Basketball?” or “Do you play volleyball?” These questions infuriated me.

First of all, I did play basketball. In seventh grade. And I was really good at it, too. But my heart wasn’t in it, not like writing. Plus, playing was incredibly painful. I had to go to the chiropractor twice a week if not more, and at times my lower back pain was so bad I couldn’t walk. I really wanted a scholarship for college but knew sports just weren’t for me, so after seventh grade I never joined a team again.

But because I’m tall I obviously played sports, right? Some people got aggressive with me, demanding explanations when I said I didn’t, or telling me I really should, even after I explained that it physically hurt me, and plus I was seriously not into it. Did this contribute to my strong dislike of sports in schools? Probably so.

But you know what was really insulting? Walking an air conditioning repair guy through my company the other week to show him a malfunctioning unit, and having him ask me, “So did you play football in high school?”

I’m large, so I’m manly? Excuse me? I said no and walked off.

Normal Life. Honestly, unless someone is confronting me in public about it, I forget how tall I am. This is just my body. This is just my life. I do sometimes feel like I’m observing life instead of participating it, because I’m looking at everything from a distance, but when I’m at home with Chris, he’s life-sized to me, and we do what we do and are regular people. But when I see myself in pictures with my friends I’m always surprised at the height difference.

This is me with Biljana and Kat at Universal Studios.

And it’s not just height, because I’ve seen tall women who look like they’ve been stretched upward. I’m naturally just a very big person.

Here’s the way I usually describe it: You know when you have a picture in Microsoft Word, and you can stretch the picture out? I’m like a regular picture, except you take one of the buttons at the corner and make me bigger all around.

The person on the left is a normal woman. Let’s call her 5’5. The person in the middle is a typical taller woman I see on a regular basis, let’s call her 5’10. She’s the stretched version of the short woman. And the person on the far right is me. The smaller woman with every proportion increased, not just stretched.

Chris jokes that I come from ‘good stock.’ My father’s family is very tall, and my mother’s is all Swedish, so I’m just naturally larger. Which really pisses me off when I look at a BMI chart, because even at my skinniest I was considered borderline obese, which is just ridiculous.

It’s Not All Bad. Really, I don’t mean to be a whiner, I really don’t. I just wanted to write this to explain how being really tall feels and how I think about it. There are definitely some good parts.

For one, I can reach everything that would ever need to be reached. I can see over book stacks in bookstores. If I’m in a group of friends I’m the flag that can always be rallied at.

Tall people statistically make more money and are considered smarter. People usually think I’m older than I really am, which I appreciate because they take me seriously. Growing up, not being taken seriously was my worst fear, so this is one aspect of my height I really enjoy.

I was never picked in in school. To this day I feel more comfortable in some situations because I know my height deters people from starting stuff with me. And if I ever need to, just standing really close to someone while I’m talking to them acts as a very deep, biological intimidation method.

I can also hide weight gain better than a shorter person. 10 pounds on me can barely be seen, but on someone 5’5 that can be devastating. It also makes my weight loss goals a lot larger, lol.

Occasionally when people stop to talk about my height, it’s to ask if I’m a model. When I was skinnier strangers would frequently tell me that I was beautiful (thirty pounds later, I still maintain that I’m attractive, just not to the point where people feel obligated to tell me about it anymore ;-). You can’t imagine what a relief that was to grow up and enter the adult world and find out that this physical characteristic I hated as a teen was actually something to be prized.

Because let’s face it: If you’re going to remember anyone in a crowd, it’s going to be me. People recognize me. Remember that story about the guy who asked Chris how tall I was in the gas station? Six months later we went back there and when I handed the cashier my ID she told me not to worry about it, that she remembered me. I did not recall this woman at all, but she remembered that six months ago I was legally old enough to be buying what I was buying.

This happens frequently across my town. One time I went into Target to pick up some stuff for dinner, and as I was walking out my cashier said, “You always look so nice when you come in here.” Again, I did not remember this girl at all.

So while sometimes I do feel like I can never just anonymously be in a crowd, I also appreciate the fact that I have mini-celebrity status. When people remember you they treat you better. You form relationships with them. So does my height give me an advantage in these situations? Definitely yes.

~~~

Being really tall sucked when I was younger. There are still some sucky parts. But those experiences made me who I am, and define me today. So would I give it up? Definitely not. I’m happy with who I am and pretty much happy with my body, so what more could I really ask for?

“You know, no one’s ever described it like that,” I said to the young Indian man working the cash register in Georgia. I could tell he was in the group of people that wanted to connect with me, not just treat me like a circus attraction. “I’m 6’2.”

“Well, it is a very good height,” he said again, and handed me my receipt.

“A very good height,” I repeated. “I like that. Thanks.”

Read the follow-up post here.

41 thoughts on “What it Feels Like to be Really, Really Tall

  1. OMG Savannah — I adore you so much right now. Thank you so much for this post! I totally meant to write a similar blog post a while ago but never got around to it, and I was surprised to see how much of your post resonated with me.

    I’m almost half a foot shorter than you, but given that I’m Asian and I currently live in Taiwan, I feel like I get treated like a freak of nature sometimes too. It’s not as bad when I’m in the States, but the average height here is a lot shorter! I’m frequently asked for my height (sometimes I don’t mind too badly, but it can get pretty annoying). I get that they think it’s a compliment to comment on my height, but I agree that it’s not ok to comment on someone’s body like that (and yes I’ve also considered lots of snarky answers to height comments, like “Oh I never noticed I was tall, how absolutely fascinating!” or “And wow, you’re so short!” but I’m too much of a goody-two-shoes to say them. Sigh.)

    YES to the “I’m tall, not deaf” sentiment — I have seriously wanted to say that to a few strangers myself! (But see above comment re: goody-two-shoes.) And YES to the unnecessary “play basketball!/volleyball!” advice. And I get asked, too, “How are you going to find a boyfriend when you’re so tall?” People really ask me that! Ugh. Personally I think I wouldn’t mind being a little bit taller if the guy is incredible, but I understand not wanting to stick out any more than absolutely necessary. I’m so happy for you that you met Chris. :)

    And yes, I forget that I’m taller than many of my friends until I see photos, or when someone makes a comment about it, or when I stand next to someone who is way shorter than me. Maybe that’s why people keep trying to remind me I’m tall? Because they could tell I’d stopped thinking about it consciously? lol.

    I also agree with you about the good parts. Reaching stuff, being asked if I’m a model, looking skinnier than I actually am, being seen as more mature, being memorable, being seen as a leader.

    Ahh, I can just relate to SO much of what you said. I hope you don’t think I’m being presumptuous or saying we’re in the same situation, because I know what I experience is a waaaayyyy milder version of what you do. I don’t think I even qualify as being “tall” in the States, but as an tallish Asian girl in Taiwan I get a lot of the things you mention in this post. It’s so amazing to know that someone has those thoughts and feelings too! Thank you for sharing and for making me feel less alone. :)

    • “How are you going to find a boyfriend when you’re so tall?”

      Omg I canNOT believe people ask you that!! No one’s ever asked me that. That’s really awful. What do you say to that? “Umm, I guess I’m going to be an unloveable spinster?” You have my sympathies.

      And I don’t think you’re presumptuous at all :-) I don’t have any close friends who are considered tall, and I rarely get the chance to talk to other tall women, but when I do I find we have the same complaints like the ones you outlines. The first female gas station cashier I mentioned told me people ask her how tall she is all the time, and she’s only 5’10.

      I think I can now safely say I can never visit any Asian countries. Though if I visit Taiwan we should go out together and you can finally not be the person everyone stares at in public :-)

      • Haha I know right?? It’s ridiculous that people ask me that. I think I tend to say something like “uh, guys who are taller than me DO exist, you know” or “I wouldn’t mind dating someone my height or a tiny bit shorter” or “why would that be a problem?” One of these days I’ll come up with a really good, snarky comeback! And probably never say it, lol, but it’ll make me feel better. :P

  2. Oh my gosh, I feel so bad for pointing out how tall you were when I first met you! :( I meant it as a compliment, really, as I find you to be very pretty. I hope I didn’t make you feel uncomfortable! I’m really sorry if I did. <3

    You're right, though, your height shouldn't necessarily be a topic of discussion. For example, if someone brought up another person's weight, they would be totally offended. Why should any other aspect be any different?

    • Sydney, don’t even worry about it! You were definitely in the camp of people who was genuinely interested, you didn’t make me feel uncomfortable at all. Plus I was kind of expecting it, since I was pretty sure you hadn’t been warned beforehand, lol!

      • Okay, good, I’m glad I didn’t make you feel uncomfortable. <3 Kat is such a cutie – I think you two should walk around in public more often, just for the pure contrast of height. :P

  3. I’m 5’2, so I have the opposite problem. Apparently I don’t “look” short until you stand next to me, so people seem to enjoy looming over me and saying, “Hey, you’re really short!” Having a lot of tall friends doesn’t help. Sometimes I have to stand on things to fit into group photos ;)
    It’s kind of ironic, actually, because as a child I was always one of the tallest in my class and I hated it. I think the universe must have decided to skip my pubescent growth spurt just to teach me a lesson about being careful what you wish for. I also once said that I liked the sound of my own voice, and the next day I got laryngitis and couldn’t speak for a week. Yeah, the universe hates me XD
    I don’t think anyone is ever really 100% happy with their appearance, but there are pros and cons to all shapes and sizes, so everyone should just embrace themselves the way they are :)
    Although I have to say… why is the best stuff always on the top shelf?!

    • Lol! I usually lean down in group photos… have to stop doing that though, because then I look hunch-backed, haha.

      And have you ever been in a store where they put the short people things up high and tall people things down low? It’s so irritating!

  4. Lol, the funny thing is, I don’t even register it anymore. I’m so used to being shorter than most people I meet that I totally disregard HOW much shorter I actually am. This makes me a TERRIBLE judge of height. I swear, if I ever had to submit a report to the police or something, they’d be like “estimate of height?” and I’d be like “um…taller than me?”

    • Caitlin Vanasse says:

      I have this problem too, but for a different reason. My little sister is actually 6″ taller than me and I’m so used to walking around with her that I automatically think I’m taller than I actually am, so I’ll be all “Laura and I are totally the same height” and Laura will be like “Umm… I’m at least 2″ taller than you Caitlin”.

      I also walk really fast for someone my height, gotta keep up with those long legs and all.

  5. Savannah, I’m nowhere near as tall as you (5’9″) but I can sympathize on what you’re saying anyway. I actually once wrote an editorial for my college newspaper about this, because–prepare yourself to hate me–I’m naturally skinny. Not just a little, like, super skinny. And I was even skinnier when I was in college. People felt they could not only comment on it, but say really cruel things to me. When I was in the cafeteria, innocently filling my bowl at the salad bar, a girl once looked me straight in the eyes and said, “You make me sick.” Wow, great ice breaker, thanks! And that’s just one example. So, yeah, I feel ya. Different way, but definitely the same social experience.

    Great post! It’s good to see someone really talking about their own experience with something like this.

    I sure hope you’re going to put this into one of your books someday!

    – Liz

    • Oh my! You’re not actually the first naturally skinny person I’ve heard of who’s had that happen to them, and I think it’s awful. You can’t control your body’s metabolism anymore than I could control how tall I grew. I’m sorry that happened to you, I’d be horrified if someone ever said that to me.

      And I’ve often wanted to see taller characters in fiction. Usually when we see characters who have an issue with their body, it’s because they’re ‘too short’. But I wasn’t sure if I was comfortable writing about a tall character, being tall myself. I didn’t want people to read too much into it, you know?

      • Oh I love Cimorene! Awesome, kickass tall girl from Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles. :) There’s also Kel from Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small. I think Ai Ling from Cindy Pon’s Silver Phoenix is tall too, and so is Cindy (for an Asian, anyway). I’ll write a tall female protag one of these days but I want to make sure not all my protags are. I think you’ll be fine as long as you mix it up!

  6. Sammi K Walker says:

    I have cousins that could put you to shame. Just saying! In other news, I’m shrinking, I guess. The other day at the doctors they measured me, and the nurse looked at my chart, then looked at me funny. “How tall are you?” Uh, 5’5″ “Well now you’re 5’4″ ”

    I lost an inch an a half in height? Wish that worked with my waist XD

    • You know, I hear about these taller women all the time, but I’ve never actually met one!

      And oh no you’re shrinking!! Although I wish I was shrinking… at least I’m not getting any taller. If we could somehow arrange a height transfer I’d totally be down with that.

  7. There are so many parts of your post that I kept nodding to when I was reading it. There isnt a day that goes by without someone commenting on my height. I’m 5’10 not 6’2 but I always got the how tall are you. I never think too much about my height when I’m with my family was at home because my brothers are 6’2 and 6’4 and my sister is 5’11 (so technically I am the shortest ;) ) Unlike my sister I am curvy (so I never got the do you model question only she did- although I did get asked about playing basket ball a lot and people get upset saying Im wasting my height but I had no interest in sports. I enjoyed music and reading a good book) At my skinniest I am also overweight on the BMI and after I gained some 30lbs after college, people did not just come up to me to say oh you’re tall btu they also said ooooh you’re big. how are u supposed to respond to that? My friends also wonder why I wont date guys shorter than me. My brothers’ wives are about a foot shorter than them and I was always worried about dating and stuff. As for shoes, I’m lucky my feet stopped growing when I was 13 and they stopped at a size 11. my cousin whose also 5’11 wears size 13s and she gets most of her shoes from payless or orders them online. I always hate that they make those shoes have 3-1’2 to 4 inch heels like really I am the most ungraceful person ever I cant walk in those things

    • “Wasting your height”, ugh, I hate that. How about we start telling athletes they’re wasting their brains? I think we should value intellectual feats over physical ones anyway…

      And wow, no one has ever said to me that I’m ‘big’, that must have been awful. :-(

  8. Skarlette says:

    Hey Savannah!
    Heh, I’ve been stalking LTWF and your guys’ blogs for a (long) while now, but this is the very first time I’ve posted…well, anything. First comment, everything. So I guess this is a formal introduction? ^_^

    Hi, I’m Skarlette and I’m tall.

    Er, at least I thought I was until I read this post. I’m 5’8 and naturally thin (cringe), and I get asked about my height ALL. THE. TIME.

    Seriously, This guy tried to start up a convo with me by asking: “So, how tall are you?”

    And he actually thought he was pretty smooth. -facepalm- I gave him a terse smile then said, “Tall enough.”

    >.<

    But yeah, people comment all the time. And it doesn't help that I'm taller than my mom and about the same height as my dad. Heels? Much taller.

    I wear heels basically all the time to church, and I always feel like a giraffe walking around. But heels are just cuter shoes, imo. My friend’s fiance had the nerve to look me up and down and say, “You know, in those heels you’re like 6’0.”

    Like I didn’t already know -sniff-

    Haha, we’re friends now (cousins, actually o_O), but at the moment I felt like pushing him down his apartment stairs.

    -smiles innocently-

    But gah, it’s so hard to find shoes! You might not believe it, but it’ actually pretty difficult finding cute size 9 shoes. Then again, I guess I have pretty darn easy compared to you :( Your story made me feel like a brat for complaining about finding shoes! -hugs you-

    Oooh, I totally got the sports thing. “Do you play basketball?”

    “No.”

    -gasps in shock- “Why not?”

    Because despite popular belief, every tall person is not interested in basketball. Or good at it, for that matter. >_>

    I also got “Are you a model?” When I answered in the negative, I was told that I needed to be. And maybe some people see that as a compliment, but when you tell the person that you have other goals for your life (like writing ^_^) and they get annoyed (yes, annoyed!) because you’re not following their “sound advice”, it can get real tiresome real quick.

    But yay to tall girls! -hugs you all- It’s nice to know that other girls are embracing their tallness. Quite inspiring, Savannah =)

    (and oh no that guy didn’t seriously text that to your sis! -angry face- if I was ur sis, my reply wouldn’t have been too…reassuring, if ya get my drift ;D

    …threats anyone? lol)

    (oh, and this is off topic but dude I seriously LOVE your zombie excerpt. That intro = amazing. Jealousy-inducing awesomeness.)

    sorry for such a long comment. i will be leaving now -toddles off-

    • Hi Skarlette, nice to officially meet you!

      Where do you live that people think 5’8 is outrageously tall?? And I love it when people think that they’re soooo original by asking you how tall you are. Like that instantly isn’t going to put you into defensive mode. Plus, no one wants to be fetished on. Have you heard of snu snu? Everytime I bring up my height in an online forum there are immediate cries of snu snu! It’s disgusting.

      When I get the model question I usually just think the person is ignorant. I mean, height does NOT equal being a model. You have to be super skinny as well, and if you’re too tall you’ll never be on the runway anyway. Plus-sized models are even skinnier than I am. It’s a ridiculous question, though flattering sometimes.

      And I’m so glad you liked my zombie excerpt! I’m going to hit 20k on the story today and I think it’s about a third of the way done. So exciting!

  9. Myra says:

    Oh, Savannah, I understand this post so much and totally sympathize. Constantly I feel as if my body is public property–because I am a woman, mostly, but also because I’m fat. The smaller side of fat, yes, at a size 12 or 14 and 5’6″, but nonetheless–fat. Some people don’t consider me to be fat, but I do, and I’m okay with that. I accept and love my body the way it is. Nonetheless, it’s absolutely not okay to confront a stranger about their body; it appalls me how some people think our bodies (feminine bodies, for the most part) are public objects. I’m actually whistled at much more than I am confronted about my weight, which to be honest annoys me just as much. It’s so degrading.

    I’ve never actually been commented on by strangers about my weight but one time. Actually, it was a neighbor of ours who we bumped into at the grocery store, but it was so intrusive that it felt like a total stranger. It’s possibly one of the most humiliating moments of my life. I was with my dad and my sister–all who are smaller than I. She said something along the lines of, “You’re bigger than the rest of the family.” I was mortified. I didn’t know what to say I was so stunned. How are you supposed to say to a woman, a near stranger, that you hated your body all throughout your teenage years because it was bigger than your average girl’s, that it’s that way because you turned to food for comfort through years of depression, but now you accept your own body and have no desire to change it? No one but my mother had ever talked to me about my weight. I balked and said, “You mean, taller?” It was all I could come up with. And I turned away. I caught my dad’s eye as I looked away and couldn’t look at any of my family for the rest of the time. I tried to resume cheerful talk from before we bumped into her, but it was hard to just shrug it off. I hate it that other people feel as if YOUR body is THEIR business, that they can just discuss it without initiating your permission to. Unless I want to talk about my body, there’s no way in hell that you have the right to comment on it! It is absolutely no one’s business but mine what my weight is.

    I understand everything you wrote about, though, from clothes to dating to sports to just everything. I still fit straight sizes, obviously (they stop at 14, I think?) but I used to think they looked horrific on me until I started loving my body for what it was, and that made shopping in my teen years worse than a math test, I swear. I’m over that, thankfully–and now that I’ve gained confidence, dating is a helluva lot easier. When you exude confidence, people are attracted to you, no matter the size (although obviously there are still bigots out there, but who wants them anyway? ;D) Umm… yeah, sorry to have written a novel, I just have lots of feelings on body politics. Can you tell it’s one of my favourite things to talk about? :p

    • Well, let me say that I’m so glad that you found your confidence. You’re totally right; confidence is so powerful. It can literally knock people back.

      It’s so weird how people can be so insensitive. Like, do they ever realize afterwards that they said something totally inappropriate? I’m so sorry that woman said something to you; it’s awful to be embarrassed that way.

      When you said “other people feel as if YOUR body is THEIR business” it reminded me of something that really bothers me… one of the things that really angers me about pregnant women is that people think it’s okay to just touch their stomachs. I’ve heard several friends complain that total strangers just come up and touch them. Totally not okay! That’s one of the reasons (albeit a small one) why I’m not sure I want kids. If anyone did that to me I would get so incredibly angry, and it would be a really unpleasant experience for all involved :P

  10. <3333333333333333333333333333333

    I can relate, on a different aspect. While my height is average (5'4''), or even "tall" in comparison to my home country's average–I'm fat. Not morbidly obese or actually-not-fat-but-driven-to-think-so-by-society. I've been obese all my life, since I was born, and all my life, especially childhood and teenage years, I got various kinds of shit from everybody:

    "Hey, the fat girl over there!"

    "Fatty."

    "You can't do (something) because you're fat."

    "You're not ugly, but you should lose weight. You'd look better."

    "Why are you fat?"

    "Don't do (something), you're too fat!"

    Etc., all of this from friends, classmates, TEACHERS and naturally, my family. It was most awkward during my teenage years; even after I got on a diet that made me lose 20 kilograms I still felt fat. I saw myself bigger than I was (not to mention the loss of firmness of my skin made me hate my body even more, despite being "thin.") I gained all that weight back, so I'm fat again… like I've always been. I went to a clothing store today to buy a coat, and in the process I tried on a pair of skinny, fire engine red jeans. It was a very pretty pair, versatile despite the colour. They fit (as in, they closed without buttons or zippers snapping), but I could see ALL the imperfections in my legs and tummy and I went back home hating my body. Again. Especially my thighs.

    Then I went home, got online and saw the link to this article on your twitter, and while I read it I almost cried. Even right now, I'm almost crying.

    Why do people have to try to make us hate our bodies? Is it because it makes them feel better about their own? Is it because they're ignorant and/or have no good intentions? Why do they force us to fit a mould? Do they think it's ideal and/or fun for everybody to be the same? And despite rationalizing answers to these questions:

    Why do I still want to conform?

    Why do I put myself through so much crap to conform?

    Maybe one day I'll attempt to write an introspective piece like this, regarding my case. Last year I wrote a novella that touched this subject, and it was extremely hard to do it; taking a more personal approach will definitely be tougher… and will probably make me cry for real.

    On a brighter note, this was very well timed on another aspect, because I'm starting a new story that features a really tall heroine–as in, Savannah-tall. ;) So I must thank you for the insight you've given me into the mind of a tall girl in a society of mostly idiots. I will do my best!

    Finally, even though my comment reads very moody and sad-ish, I just wanted to tell you that, of course, we all have our complexes, but it takes a few sincere words to turn our worlds around (even if just for a few seconds), and on the note of the nice Indian man I will now tell you, from the bottom of my heart:

    You're beautiful.

    • Probably an inappropriate first reaction, but, YAY TALL PEOPLE IN BOOKS! I’m so excited to see how that character turns out!

      Ahem.

      I completely empathize with that feeling in the dressing room with the red pants. Nothing can be so disheartening as buying new clothes. I remember one time, I think I was 17, and I was trying on jeans at the GAP. There was something wrong with the mirror I had and it was like a funhouse mirror in that it made me appear shorter and squatter than I really am. Even though I knew logically that the mirror was misrepresenting how I looked, I was so unhappy with my proportions that I left the store crying and didn’t buy the jeans I needed. I don’t understand how people in general can be getting taller and wider but clothes sizes keep getting smaller. What is that about?!?!?

      I don’t know why we have to feel like that. Well, as my father always says, ‘follow the money.’ There’s a huge market for making people feel bad about their bodies so that they’ll buy a product to magically fix everything. But there’s also an evolutionary reason we like the way certain body types appear. Something I heard once was that these days it costs money to be skinny, whereas in times like the middle ages it cost money to be overweight, so plumpness was considered a desirable trait.

      I have known some absolutely beautiful overweight girls that I would have traded places with in an instant. They wore flattering clothing that embraced their body shapes and had great confidence in themselves and who they were. I really admired that. I’ve also known really skinny girls I would have traded with in an instant as well, for the same reasons.

      Ultimately it’s confidence that makes beauty, and I try to remember that when I’m feeling bad about my height or weight. It doesn’t always work, but there you go.

      I love your idea for a novella. I read a memoir once about a woman’s struggle with her weight, but it made me so sad I put it down and ultimately gave it away. You could feel her pain and sadness tangibly there on the page. She had also suffered sexual assault though, and it was dealt with so directly, not shying away from describing what happened, that it made me sick. When I was younger I wanted to write a memoir about my struggles with acne and how awful it was, but I don’t have too much trouble with it as an adult so there’s not much to tell anymore (essentially I’ve been on Accutane three times and one time all the skin on my nose peeled off and I got a staph infection).

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, and I hope the day comes when you feel beautiful all the time <3

  11. Carrie says:

    Wow. Just… wow. A friend of mine gave me the link to your blog and I just want to say thank you so much for writing this. I’m also 6’2″ and your feelings and experiences with strangers match mine exactly. I could not have said any of this better myself. :)

  12. I’m a college student, sitting in the library, and I really should be doing homework. But this blog post just made my day! I’m also 6’2″, and reading this was amazing. Oddly enough, I don’t get as frustrated when people ask me my height, but I think that’s because it doesn’t happen to me as often as it does for most tall women.

    When I’m in the moment hanging out with friends, I don’t typically think about how tall I am. But when I look at pictures or happen to catch a reflection of our whole group, it always startles me how much taller I am. I sometimes forget that when strangers see me, the first thing that they notice is my height.

    The bigger problem I’ve had is my weight. I’m naturally very thin, and it’s very difficult for me to gain weight, despite my continuing attempts. I hate the word “skinny.” People are constantly shocked that I’m actually a size 8, and not a 2, or whatever ridiculous size they’re expecting. I have friends who constantly tell me that I’m “too skinny,” and they don’t seem to understand that saying that equates to “the way you look does not satisfy societal expectations, you should change that.” I have a lot of self esteem issues, partially a by-product of my height, and hearing things like that does not help.

    It’s great to hear that tall girls can find tall guys. I’m 20 and have yet to be asked on a date (I have asked a few guys out, however, which was a big deal for me).

    Thank you for this awesome post! It’s wonderful reading about other tall women.

  13. Stella Robinson says:

    What a great text about girls of great height ! This is really inspiring Savannah !

    As a very tall girl myself (6’3 !), i can easily related to your story. I’m also considered a «big person» but i prefer to say that i have a «large body frame», according to my wrist (7”) and hands (8”). (What about yours ?). My feet are not as big as yours (i’m a size 12) but its still hard to find shoes! For some times, i had difficulty to accept my body but right now, its better. This story surely helped me going through this!

    Sincerely

    Stella

    • Hi Stella,

      I’ve never actually measured my wrists and hands! I’ll have to do that later… But I would consider myself large-framed… you see tall girls sometimes who are very skinny, like my example above of the ‘stretched’ girl, but I’m more of an ‘expanded’ girl :-)

      As for shoes, Payless and BareFootTess will be your best bets for shoes in your size!

      • Stella Robinson says:

        Hi Savannah,

        Thank you for the suggestion, I know Payless but i’ll have to take a look at BareFootTess for sure!
        About the body frame size, with your wrist and hand measurements, you’ll have an idea whether you’re small, medium or large-framed. With your ‘stretched’ example, you’re surely large-framed. Like you said, this play an important role on the BMI – I’m pratically ‘obese’ if I relate to the chart – which is kind of a nonsense !

      • Stella Robinson says:

        Hi Savannah !

        Did you finally take the measurements of your wrist and hand ?

        Keep on the good work !

        Stella

        • So funny you asked this… I did actually recently have to measure my wrists to order some custom leather bracelets for me and a friend! The wrist on my right hand is 7.5 inches, tight against the skin. Large-framed people unite!

          • Stella Robinson says:

            Actually, I may be more medium-framed according to my 7” wrist and that i’m close to 6’4 ! However, i’m still considered almost obese, while i’m only around 90 kg…

            I don’t attach importance to these ”standard” calculators anymore !

  14. Tony says:

    I can relate, sort of. I am a short guy, 5’6. I make it a point of not pointing out anyone differences. I had a tough time in school, but now that I am much older, my height never really comes up. But I know women generally prefer a man that is taller than them, and some potential mates pass me by for someone taller. I find women attractive without seeing things like height/weight/color. I have dated taller women. No big deal. You are adorable, don’t let them get you down.

  15. J says:

    I find really really tall girl really really sexy more they are tall mor im attracted thats bin since im young but most of theme dont date smaller guy they are always looking for guy of there size i dont mind but i will always find theme attractive im only 5’8″. Well all that to say … Keep being sexy girls cause to my eye you are the sexiest woman in the world more you are tall more you attract me and i also love tall woman whit a chubby size body ;) :) :D

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