Notes From "The Tall Girl"

Height in women is seen as some transgression in the aesthetic order of things. Literally, you're taking up more space than some think a woman should.
Publish date:
May 16, 2012
height, tall

Fee fi fo fum

I feel a strange proprietorship over notions about being a "tall girl." I've been one since, oh, about kindergarten. Even in Montessori school, I towered over my classmates. I'm the first thing you see in most class pictures through middle school. For sure the tallest girl in my high school; and the tallest woman in most environments I find myself in now.

I think "extreme" height in women is character building; when you meet a woman over 6 feet you can pretty much bet she didn’t peak in high school, probably wasn’t the prom queen or captain of the cheerleaders. In my case, I edited the high-school yearbook; borrowed my sister’s ID and got a jump start on night life in downtown Toronto.

I'm just under 6’2”, the weather up here is pretty aight.

I remember in my early 20s, when I moved to New York, a friend suggested I look for men at the NYC ‘Tall Club" -- a social group for the height gifted. I cringed in horror; a (tiny) friend of mine commented incredulously “What do the women talk about? ‘These pantyhose won’t go past my knees'?”. I’ve never really had any trouble attracting a mate, but to seek out other giants? In public? It still sends a chill down my spine.

Women in general put up with a lot of idiocy from insecure men; being tall can exacerbate that. It can make dating tricky if you're not keen on dating "down." I've dated shorter and taller -- I definitely prefer someone my height or a little taller. Too short and it feels like I’m acting out a fetish, too tall and it feels like I’ve been sorted vertically.

Statuesque women can speak to some interesting social/gender phenomena; guys are either intimidated or want to scale you like Everest. For the most part, men don’t want to look up at their mate. That’s fine, most men under 6’ are sexually invisible to me (not you, Peter Dinklage, I have my eye on you!).

One guy made a hopeful pitch years ago saying, "Everyone’s the same height in bed!" I guess that’s true.

We just look right together

Tall women experience the world very differently than tall men. Height in women is seen as some transgression in the aesthetic order of things. Literally, you're taking up more space than some think a woman should.

The consequence of this is that I never stand up front at shows, and I pretty much always think of the poor bastard behind me in a movie or theater.

I flash on this when I am at a show and see lots of guys way over 6’ pushing their way to the front. People don't seem to mind that; it's expected for big men to take up a big space, that space gets respected and rarely confronted. I have been asked to stoop, to move; once in a theatre a drunk woman behind me asked the usher to move me -- things no tall man I've ever known has had to put up with.

With respect to clothes, I've been both tall and interested in fashion now for about 25 years, I’ve figured it out. Sometimes jeans aren't long enough. I know which dresses will fit me like a tunic. I don’t bother with certain trends (crop tops? Maxi dresses? No.) Specialty retailers often try to be ‘on trend’ and get the whole thing wrong: floor sweeping skirts, one piece bathing suits and that maxi dress in every colour. Vintage is pretty much off my radar; I guess they didn’t make women my size until recently?

But being tall has actually helped me in terms of fashion and style. I might as well wear things that suit my weird taste if I'm going to stick out anyway.

Being over 6’ since puberty has meant standing out in some way for my whole life. It's usually a positive thing. I don't have to work to get people's attention; many times they are aware of me anyway.

I'm told that tall dudes get weird aggressive energy from other men, It seems guys think a giant man is up for a fight, or simply by being tall has laid down a gauntlet for others to challenge. Sometimes it’s not that different for women.

Many times I meet women and feel the cool breeze of dismissal. I have to work harder to gain approval. Even adult women can be unkind; sometimes I wonder if that is because of my height.

Public transportation is my main venue to surprise people confined by the subway. I get clocked first as a redhead; maybe as a woman with visible tattoos. My stop comes, I stand, startled looks ensue. People look at me in surprise, I get scanned from head to toe. I feel like making direct eye contact and saying, “Yeah, this is really happening.”

I’ve never worn high heels. At just under 6’2”, it seems absurd. At the same time I wish high heels on every tall girl who wants to wear them; I cringe when I see a beautiful tall women hunched over, trying to be smaller. Fuck that shit -- I learned a long time ago to never make yourself smaller to for someone else. There is too much bullshit in life designed to do exactly that; you do not need to play along.

Your height is just one of many things that determine how the world sees you; how you see yourself is an entirely different matter.