“Tall Women Can’t Hide”

5565284073_271f3e70f3The magnificent Daria Werbowy, looking breathtaking in Lanvin.

Shot by Mert and Marcus for American Vogue, March 2011

And why should they?

As I was scrolling through Jezebel today the other day, always on the procrastinating prowl clearly, the article “Tall Women Can’t Hide,” by Austinite Elaine Dove, came like manna from I’ll Get to That Tomorrow heaven.  “Expletive yeah!” sayeth I, as I grabbed some popcorn and settled in to read the heck out of this article.   The commenters on Jezebel truly are a cut above the rest, and since commiserating and joking around with other tall women is one of my favourite things, I was pretty stoked.  Of course, I felt compelled to include a rambling, verging-on-incoherent comment of my own in response.

The author stands at 5’9, and she talks about some things that are pretty familiar to many tall girls, like finding pants and skirts that are long enough (I’m still undaunted in my search for long jeans that fit me properly, kind of like what I imagine the really-ripped Spartan dudes of 300 felt in the face of Xerxes’ ridiiiiculously large army, but I’ve embraced the too-short skirts a long time ago, like Xerxes does in the movie.  He looked fabulous, and so do I.  Delusions of messianic grandeur can do wonders to one’s posture.) ANYWAY.  In addition to the clothing conundrums that so many people of so many sizes face, Dove also brings up the concept that tall women can unwillingly serve as the target for other people’s insecurities, that dating can be fraught with the difficulty of not “offending” your potential paramour’s ego by wearing high heels, and that fitting a traditional definition of femininity can be challenging when society still clings to the outdated equation of tallness with masculinity.

I appreciated Dove’s honesty about her insecurities, and her challenges in navigating the world as a tall woman rang true for me.  The article wasn’t exactly brimming with feel-good pep-talk goodness, but it’s also worth noting that it takes some people longer than others to develop self-confidence and to fully appreciate their height as a positive asset.  It’s an ongoing process.  If anything, the tone of the article really highlighted how friggin’ essential it is to develop a sense of self; an identity that isn’t defined in relation to other people, especially dudes.  It’s a tall order (oho hahaha) to do this, I know, since it’s human nature to come down with a wicked case of Compare-itis pretty often.  We’re also surrounded by a culture that loves body policing, reinforcing old-as-the-hills gender stereotypes, and making people feel badly about their perfectly lovely selves so that they will buy stuff.  But if you can see past all this every once in a while,  you will be an unstoppable tornado of love in the form of a girl!

Okay- back to the bitchin’:  Many of the comments from fellow tallies reinforced the notion that tall women are especially public targets of the insecurities and hang-ups of other people, and that these unresolved self-esteem issues, mixed with the fact that many people (especially guys) feel inexplicably entitled to comment on womens’ bodies, means that tall women face an undue level of harassment and running public commentary.  Even worse?  Many of us take all sorts of measures to make other people feel comfortable with our “impetuous” height, and resort to slouching, sitting instead of standing, losing weight as to appear more frail and to “take up less space,” deliberately changing our mannerisms to appear more passive and “non-threatening,” and being far too kind to people who truly deserve a proper verbal smackdown.  I think I’ve avoided the deliberate slouch, but I’m definitely guilty of suffering fools far, far too gladly (usually while Morrissey’s voice sings in my head “In my liiife, why do I give valuable time to people who I’d much rather kick in the eyyeeee?”)  The internalized belief that we’re somehow to blame for triggering the insecurities of others, and thus feel compelled to play therapist by changing and diminishing ourselves is….pretty friggin’ screwed up.  It’s a much larger societal screw-up, and not created by tall women themselves, so it’s pretty hard to fix by just switching into a pair of flats.  Pretttyyy screwed up.  We know that “heightism” is mere peanuts compared to systemic, all-pervasive forms of discrimination like racism, etc…, but it’s still important to note that height, weight and sexism intersect in some pretty insidious ways, and that the only way to start dismantling all of this is to talk about it.

Dove noted that she “wasn’t alone in this dilemma, even if none of us are talking about it.”

And that, ladies and gents, is precisely why The Height of Life came to be.

Have any of you read the article?  If so, what were your thoughts?


3 Responses to ““Tall Women Can’t Hide””

  • sister from the same mister! Says:

    We are women, just like the rest. Bah

  • Kelly Says:

    Time to go and read that article, but first I wanted to comment on something that is so glaringly obvious in Your article: You are one amazing and influtential communicator.

    You post funny and silly posts that are very entertaining, but I found this one to be so eloquently written… You are wonderful, dahling!

    (Also, unrelated: I read “The Help” this week and couldn’t stop thinking about you, and I thought that if you hadn’t read it yet that you might want to. I’m not sure why I thought of you so much, maybe because one of the characters is a writer?)

  • Bonnie Says:

    Bravo!!! Finally there is someone who can articulate the obvious! Keep up your journalistic prowness,I shall be anticipating your upcoming articles.

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