My Tall Story

There are people who are a bit tall. 5’8 say. They’ll go through life as other people do; maybe the occasional person will point out that they’re rather tall, they might sometimes feel a bit taller than their friends, they might be able to see a little better at concerts. It probably won’t really affect them though. When you’re very tall, it becomes a part of your identity; the way you view yourself and the way others view you.

I’ve always been tall, but I haven’t always loved it. From the second I arrived into the world, I was on a non-stop growth spurt to 6ft1. I was always the tallest person in class or Brownies; the only one who didn’t have to ponder over where I should put myself in a height-order line-up.

As an 8-year-old, I was left particularly heartbroken when my best friend held a party at the Jungle Gym at Butlins and I was too tall to go in. I remember bending my knees to try and position my head under that stupid little ruler held by the smiley wooden lion cut-out. The two hours I sat outside for with her mum -- cheeks reddening and just about suppressing tears as my friends tore around the rope bridges -- were the longest 2 hours of my life.

When puberty hit and growth-spurts collided with an interest in boys, the imagined space between my friends and I seemed to widen. I was very much of the mindset that my prospective boyfriend should be taller than me, and as such, felt like I had depressingly few options compared to my friends. I even used to look at celebrities’ heights in Sugar and Bliss magazine and try to work out who was acceptably tall enough to fancy (Bryan from Westlife if anyone is interested. I mean... BRYAN?!) I’d wear trainers to school discos so that I wasn’t towering over the boys there, and I’d seethe with envy at the high heels my friends were dancing in.

The most unsettling side-effect of tallness was the inappropriate attention I received from much older men. I wish I’d had the confidence to say “You realise I’m 13, right, and that you are indeed, teetering on sex offender status?”, but instead I just ignored it and felt horribly embarrassed whenever a man would wolf-whistle at me or leer as he walked past. (Thankfully this happens a lot less now, though I fear that’s more to do with me being well past it than such men acquiring a sense of decency). 

As a young teenager, comments from other people felt relentless. I’ve been called every nickname going, and answered even more questions about the weather than the average British citizen. So much so that I nearly cry at that episode of The Inbetweeners when everyone calls Will’s new tall girlfriend “Empire State Building”. (I know, I’m a tad melodramatic, but… been there). Every time I visited family I hadn’t seen in a while, I’d dread the onslaught of “Oh-my-god… haven’t you grown” remarks. I couldn't count on all my fingers and toes the amount of times in a day someone would say “Gosh, you’re tall, aren’t you? How tall are you?” and prayed that my tallness would one day go unnoticed.

But slowly — very very slowly — my mindset started to shift. There were things that I had to admit were quite good about being tall; the look on Goal Attack’s face as I stepped off the netball coach at away games. The ability to see Westlife (Bryan is 6’2 yknow) at the Smash Hits Poll Winners’ Party from 50 rows back. Sauntering past bouncers into nightclubs when I was 16 (with or without fake ID). 

It was a gradual dawning rather than a sudden awakening, but the realisation was this; I will NEVER stop being tall. I had allowed this idea —  that I was different, unsexy and awkward -- to take up space in my head for so long, and it had all been a big old waste of time and energy. I’d ended up restricting myself in so many ways; not dating shorter boys and having a depressingly tiny list of potential suitors. Not wearing heels, and in the meantime still looking tall and probably ruining my outfit. Ducking down in photos and looking like the very tall friend with a serious hunchback. 

I soon fell madly in love with a boy who was shorter than me (not just an inch, but considerably so), and it was the first time I’d felt something beyond delight at a person’s ability to make me feel little. We dated on and off through sixthform and uni, until he broke my heart for the fourth or fifth time (as boys of any height will do). 

As a 6ft1 adult – having outgrown my mum, dad, and all the rest of my family -- I’ve finally learnt to love my height rather than just live with it. I like that people usually remember me at work or in a social setting. It’s useful that my friends never lose me on a night out. And now, when people tell me they’d love to be my height, I BELIEVE THEM. Because why hang on to the alternative?

And we now live in very different times. While 13-year-old me felt like the only tall girl in the village, now there is a whole community of tall women to connect with on social media; arms outstretched and ready to talk you down from a changing-room induced panic attack or a sh**ty day of comments from strangers. They're excited to share their long-length clothing and shoe finds, or divulge which hotel has a bathtub that covers both your knees and your nipples. And being part of that is pretty bloody great right?

 

Where are you on the spectrum of acceptance? Have you realised that nothing is changing and you'd better just embrace it like the goddamn goddess that you are...? ;)

Laura xx

Instagram @ottoandivyshoes
ottoandivy.com

15 comments

  • I love this! It’s crazy how so much of this happens to so many tall young women! 6ft1 is such a beautiful height and it’s just so nice to hear how you have embraced this. I’m only 5’11 but I have size UK 12 feet, this is what I get the most comments from, such as ‘at least you can stand up in a strong wind’ or ‘I bet you’re great at swimming’ (which I’m not). Although I now love my feet and feel like they’re something a little unique, when I was growing up I always had to wear boys shoes (not so cute) and had many not so nice nicknames thrown my way. I am now married and my husband is 6ft 4, I have bigger feet than him, we both think this is hilarious and so do most people who find this out. It’s so important to embrace who you are. This story is fantastic, keep on sharing and empowering young women! Xx

    Georgie
  • I was always the tallest child in my class. And I always felt particularly awkward about it. One year the photographer taking the class photo put me on the opposite side to the teacher to “balance it out”! I always stood out like a sore thumb in class photos. Hated it. I remember on the last day of high school a couple of girls admitting how terrified they were of my friend and I (who was equally as tall) just because of our height. Thankfully once they spoke to us they realised we were actually nice! Trousers alway were and still continue to be a problem to buy. I wish I could just walk into a shop and pick up a pair of trousers knowing they’d fit. Oh and coats! Always too short in the sleeve! It has got easier over the years but maybe because I’ve learnt to embrace it instead of fight it. 🤷‍♀️

    Jamaine
  • Love this Laura- thanks for writing it! I hated being tall (6ft) until a family friend told me about a colleague of his who was 6ft 4 and always wore high heels, looked spectacular and always stood up straight. As a vain15 year old that didn’t quite resonate for a few years but something else he said did – that stooping only makes you look taller! From that day on, I stood up straight and started owning it and my confidence grew with it. One of my favourite things about being tall is that if someone turns a corner or opens a door, and you’re unexpectedly behind it, they yelp in terror. This never fails to make me laugh.

    Emily
  • Made me smile remembering things that have happened because of my height ( 6ft 2 & 56yrs old ) Being sent to the bar at 14 because I looked older than than the 16 yr olds . Getting into clubs underage but then realising that non of my friends had got in! . I personally don t think it’s any easier now and bringing up a tall daughter ( now 6ft 4) has given me lots of those inbetweener moments because I m more aware of the thoughtless comments. I remember them ( I’ve got 2 v tall boys too) struggling at playcentres but reminded them that they could go on the really exciting stuff for older kids way before their friends . Basically I ve just banged on about the advantages of being tall .I also steered them into sports where their height is an advantage because these have given them so much confidence and opportunities ie representing their country and sports scholarships in the US. And the most important point …. clothes look so good on a tall person 😊

    Zoe Borrowdale
  • Laura, thank you for sharing your story. I felt the same as I was growing up. Being 172cm, I was the talest girl in my school and experienced a night mare in regards to my height. And now my beautiful 15 years old daughter who is 181cm already going through tough times of self acceptance and being constantly teased and commented on as she is a talest girl in her school. And as a top up constant comments from strangers. It is a heart breaking for me as mum to see my daughter’s suffering. Thank you for being such an inspiration to young girls! And thank you for creating beautiful shoes for us long feet women! Lots of love from Australia 💗💗💗

    Olga

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