“Wow. You’re Tall”.
Forget the fact that I spent an hour on my hair, 20 minutes on my makeup, 30 minutes picking out an outfit and another 10 minutes changing until finally satisfied with the get-up de soir – this guy chose to focus on the one attribute I was actually trying to play down; my height.
No pun intended, my appreciation for heels has definitely hit its highs and lows. I kid you not, more than once, some guy strolled up to me in the bar and stared in awe, mumbling on about how tall I am – as if, by some miracle, this fact hadn’t formerly been brought to my attention. Now, the staring in awe part I didn’t mind so much, and more often than not this line was just an unfortunate – and unsuccessful – effort to pick me up (not literally – thank god), but once in a while I would come across someone who would decide to point it out – just for fun, and those were the times that as a woman pushing 6 feet, I wished I could cut myself off at the ankles and just blend in.
Generally speaking, I like to stand out. I adopted the title “Twiga” after being labelled as such during a volunteering stint overseas in Tanzania and now I am known to most, including my readers, as the friendly giraffe. This however, wasn’t always the case. Just imagine being a fourteen year old girl, and a head taller than every boy in the class. Awkward much? I had my first date well into high school after most of the boys in my class had finally caught up. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the boys who had to suffer the repercussions of a clumsy teenager. Being nearly 6′ meant that as my limbs quickly outgrew the rest of my body, I began breaking things at home and became much too strong to compete against the other girls in my class without risking potential injury to either party.
The truth is that it didn’t even take a contact sport to isolate the big girls in school. I have fallen on top of a girl more than once during an attempted piggy back – humiliating.The funny thing is, I’m not that heavy, but in comparison to other girls my age, I was lanky and their head would always hover somewhere around bust height. I will never forget injuring myself one time during a soccer match and my best friend tried to carry me to safety. We both ended up face first on the ground. It was hilarious at the time because I was old enough to accept the consequence of my height, but it took years to get to that point and even now I’m skeptical whenever I see my husband ready himself to sweep me off my feet!
Speaking of men, this is an ailment all tall girls must face – I don’t mean men in general – I mean the burden of finding a size-appropriate mate . During my studies, I made a rule with some of my girlfriends: over 6′ feet and the man was mine, under 6′ and he was up for grabs. The rule didn’t quite take, to the chagrin of myself and my fellow 6 foot team member who found it just as frustrating that we had to compete with women of various heights for a limited amount of single men. This tiny sub-species of males between 18-35 (single tall men), like an endangered species on the brink of extinction – or in this case, at risk of getting into a relationship- was constantly on the decline. The older we got, the more men decided to settle down with short women. Okay, maybe they weren’t all short.
The point is that in addition to identifying a mate based on intelligence, sense of humour, kindness etc. we had the additional task of selecting partners based on height. To whose of you who are currently shrugging your shoulders as if height doesn’t matter – it does. As much as we all hate to stereotype, a taller woman with a shorter man looks awkward. If you can pull it off – I applaud you. Personally, I feel completely out of sorts walking around holding the hand of a man who comes up to my shoulders and bending at the knees just to facilitate a goodnight kiss.
Thankfully the selection of top-grade single good looking intelligent men had not run dry by the time I was ready to settle down – or I would never have landed the man I did. To those girls out there currently on the hunt – relax, you’ll find a guy, just wait until after high-school when the pool of men doubles during your college years. Trust me on this one. Nowadays I welcome the heels and the height I feel lucky to have been given. Granted I don’t go crazy wearing 6 inch stilettos but I embrace the way a nice pump accentuates the curve of my calves and forces me to strut my way down the street. I walk tall no matter what I do and make an effort to use my height to my advantage whenever possible. Whether it’s catching the eye of someone whose attention I seek, striding in double time during a jog through the park or exuding confidence by walking tall to mask shaky nerves during an interview; I’ve finally come to understand that added height is an accessory and I encourage every woman to wear it well.