Don’t look down on tall women

Nicole McIsaac, News Editor

How do people describe you to others when they meet you for the first time? Maybe it’s your distinguishing hair color, the way that you dress or the shade of your eyes.

For me, it’s commonly, “Oh, she’s that tall girl.”

Being a 5-foot-9-inch tall female certainly has its advantages, but the harsh stereotypes seemingly overpower those benefits on a daily basis. Taller women can be perceived as more masculine, intimidating, athletic or even undateable.

The average height of an American woman in 2022 is 5-foot-4 inches while it’s 5-foot-9-inches for men, according to World Population View. While I’m not the tallest woman alive, there is something about being  half a foot taller than average that spikes some insecurities.

Oftentimes, people understand how others are more sensitive to comments regarding weight, body and facial features. However, when it comes to curating an unnecessary comment about a female’s height, there are certainly no boundaries for some.

I usually hear the common “How’s the weather up there?” or “Wow, you definitely play basketball.” While those remarks may seem lighthearted at first glance, it certainly piles onto the various others that frame tall women as the main act of a circus freak show.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with me physically. I am healthy, active and have a great head on my shoulders. My height never really bothered me when I was very young, especially since the majority of the other girls towered over the boys in elementary school.

However, as I got older and entered the wrath of middle school, I began to feel more self-conscious and thought twice about my lengthy size.

When I was in seventh grade, a boy in my class turned to me and asked how tall I was. After telling him what I was told at my doctor’s physical, he responded with: “Why are you so abnormally large?”

While younger me didn’t know it then, that comment would stick with me for a while.

Leaving the heels at home, ensuring that I always shifted my weight to my hip when standing, crouching down in every photograph I took — I just wanted to “fit in” like all the other girls around me, even if there was nothing wrong with me.

Unfortunately, the way I felt about my height is not uncommon to other tall females around the globe and throughout many years.

In a 2017 research study by the University of South Florida Scholar Commons, 10 women, between 5-feet-11-inches and 6-feet-3-inches, emphasized how they began to learn the differences between their own height and what is average when placed outside of their family environments.

“School classrooms tend to cluster children of the similar ages in order to foster peer relationships and friendships,” wrote Elizabeth Joy Fuller, the author of the study. “As such, many of my participants quickly realized that their tallness is atypical in comparison to their peers. Unfortunately, many of my participants learned early in life to associate their height with negativity due to the treatment they experienced from other children.”

The negative comments made to tall girls in their childhood alter how they will continue to perceive their height and femininity as they tackle life.

The hold that these comments have on tall females’ mental health is something that is not discussed enough. Despite the 2019 film “Tall Girl” spotlighting feelings that many women feel daily, this topic needs to be talked about for the sake of the next generation about to face similar comments I did on that day in middle school.

Now a junior in college, I have begun to embrace and love my height. I can literally see over everybody at a concert and rock flare jeans like no tomorrow. Although there are some instances where I still encounter some self-doubt about my size, I know that my height is perfectly normal.

However, I wish I knew that sooner. I wish I knew comparing one’s image to others around them does not justify anything, and average certainly does not define normal.

So here’s to wearing those 5-inch pumps sitting in the back of your closet, to dating a partner who is two inches shorter than you or reaching that box of Cheez-Its on the top shelf. Whether you are above or below average, you are perfect just the way you are.