I learned to really enjoy my height and started to wear heels in my late teens and early 20s. Some of this was due to modeling; I was surrounded by girls my height and they all wore heels. A huge factor was my mother, who at 5'9" always wore 4" heels when I was growing up. But even more importantly, my first-ever-boyfriend was not afraid to be shorter than I was, and he encouraged me to wear heels. I didn't realise it at the time, but in hindsight, it meant the world to me that I met someone early on who didn't have a problem with my height. Later, however, there were times when I was told to not wear heels so that whichever-boyfriend-at-the-time (or sometimes even female friends) would not look "stupid" next to me. I'd often take that as a challenge and wear the highest heels I owned, just to spite them. I was not going to look like Nicole Kidman next to Tom Cruise; there was no way I was going to start feeling uncomfortable with my height next to anyone else. I don't wear heels as much these days, but there are still occasions when I hear the dreaded "why do you wear heels? You are tall already." I just say that I like the shoes, and that I don't mind being tall. There really isn't much else you can say.
Wednesday, 6 April 2011
I came across some random Finnish style blog a few weeks back. The author, a very sweet, beautiful young woman, had received a comment in her inbox about her height. The comment went somewhere along the lines of "why do you insist on wearing ballet flats because you are so short ". Rightfully so, the girl defended her right to wear flats, as well as admitted that she was perfectly okay with her height, and that there was nothing wrong with being petite. Her post got me thinking about the numerous times I have been told that I don't "need" to wear heels, or that I shouldn't.
I was relatively tall growing up; I was the second tallest girl in first and second grade, but then for a few years several of my classmates towered above me. When I was 13, I was told by the school nurse that I probably wouldn't reach my big sister's height. My entire family was tall, and I was going to be the shortest. I remember feeling devastated. I was 5'6", or 168 cm. The school nurse was wrong, though, because I grew until I reached 5'11" (180 cm) at 18.
Being tall doesn't really carry a stigma per se (in fact, studies suggest that there are advantages), but there are certain obstacles tall girls face anyway. In our teenage years we look even more awkward and clumsy than our friends. Hiding from attention is difficult, but boys don't like us because we are taller than they are. We tend to slouch and have bad posture because we try to be on eye-to-eye level with our shorter friends. Some of this carries through to later in life. The clumsiness goes away and some of us re-gain the control of our limbs and look poised. We certainly draw a fair bit of attention just because we stand out, quite literally. But a lot of tall women try to look shorter than they are, a lot of them have really bad posture, and a lot of men steer away from us. (When I started going out to bars and such, I spent nights out with friends, almost always without any male company. If I was approached by men at all, it was always by idiots with a tall-girl fetishism. Yep, nothing makes you feel more special than a man whose first words to you are "I have always wanted to sleep with a really tall woman.")
Being tall makes buying clothes difficult at times. Most clothes are cut for the bodies of women with average height. I have a hard time finding properly-cut short jackets, blazers, blouses or shirts because my back and arms are too long. I am lucky that my upper-body type is boyish - I often end up buying men's sweaters and shirts because the sleeves are long enough. Luckily, these days a lot of clothing manufacturers offer 36" inseam lengths for jeans and trousers or collections specifically tailored for tall women. Properly fitting tights and leggings are tough to find, though. I usually end up with a pair of tights whose crotch is somewhere close to my knees, unless I go up two sizes and have to deal with loose waistbands and extra fabric.
My only real problem with my height is posture-related. I immediate hunch when I am with shorter people, it is almost like a reflex. The posture issue is a work in progress and I will have to live with it and keep figuring it out for the rest of my life. The fact that my torso is very long doesn't help any. In connection to this, most chairs feel ergonomically wrong somehow, and my body wants to slouch automatically when I sit down. I can never feel comfortable traveling on a plane or a bus. I also have to watch my head in low spaces, but that's the type of stuff that comes with the package. You learn to adapt. The flip side is that I can always reach the top shelf of my bookcase. I can always see the band at a concert. If Chris and I lose each other in the supermarket, he can find me easily. I don't have to change seats at the cinema because another tall person is sitting in front of me.
I have come across a lot of short women who wish that they were taller, and a lot of tall women who wish that they were shorter. It is weird how it goes; we are so rarely comfortable in our own skin. We worry about other people's perceptions of our bodies, and often only see what we don't like. As a tall woman, it is important to me to have the freedom to be who I am, to live comfortably in the body I have been given, and to do it boldly and proudly. As a tall woman, I choose to wear heels if I feel like it. I have found my own comfort zone hovering above others. There is serenity in that extra space.
Men's sweater: Kohl's
Polka-dot skirt: Salvation Army
Pendant: Petrune Vintage
Vintage hair pin: Rambling Rose Antiques
Kitties: Masa and Illusia