Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Yes, I Know: Tall, Tall, Tall...

Just in case we've never met in real life, let me paint a little picture for you. I'm 5'11" tall. Yes, taller than average. Oddly and strangely tall when I was a teenager. I carried myself with horrible posture during those formative years, as if hunching over would make me appear not as tall as most of my male peers, that's saying if my male classmates were as tall as me. Oh and did I mention towering over my girlfriends? Being tall I would say kicked my self esteem in the ass. I've had a good two decades to come into my own, I'm okay with it. I no longer hunt through shoe racks looking for the flatest shoes I could possibly find, cringing at the thought of shoes making me taller. On a good day because I'm wild and crazy sometimes I even wear heels.

Being tall, it is what it is.

Still to this day if I was to get separated from friends and they were looking for me, TALL would be one of the first words out of their mouth. Have you seen our friend Denise, she's TALL, hair to about here, blue shirt, jeans. It is who I am, TALL.

So what's the big deal. I'm tall, i've dealt with it. Dealt with longer than normal glances, dealt with comments from friends, dealt with the dumb question over and over my favorite being do you play basketball, learned to embrace helping people in stores that can't reach an item. It is who I am, TALL.

Funny enough, i've come to meet my fair share of taller women in the past five years. We even joked with one another asking where were you when I was 16, those rough years. Those awkward years when being oddly tall wasn't helping the situation. We can laugh about it now, having our height as a rite of passage. Even though we may not be the closest of friends, we have our height as a bond, we just know what it's like. I never saw tall women in the media like we do today, Hollywood is full of them (yeah!), SuperModels, WNBA, and Olympic Volleyball Champions. Just to see successful tall women is so wonderful to me!

Now I'm faced with a dilemma. The dilemma is how is the best way to help my own daughters go through this. My oldest daughter is five, but looks like she's at least six or seven. When I went into the casting call for Sj, the interviewer first said to us, "Wow she's tall for six". To which I responded, "She's actually five". Sj's height always comes into conversation, Wow you're so tall, she's so tall, over and over. It is who she is, TALL. Sometimes I say to people well I'm not exactly average height for a woman, does her height surprise you? Or Hello, I'm her mother, over here 5'11", the one that has gone through this already and you're comments aren't helping.

I should know what to do or what to say, having lived this TALL life. But sometimes it's hard. It's not something that is rude to say, but it still is something that becomes imprinted in my mind or my daughter's mind over and over. TALL, TALL, TALL. I never say to another mother, wow your child is a little plump! Or comment on their child's height. I just don't, I know what it feels like. I guess I have that sensitivity filter, it's a part of me, a part of the life I have lived.

The most wonderful part of having tall daughters today, is that women in sports rock. TALL women rock. Olympic gold medal winner, Kerri Walsh is a 6'3" beautiful beach volleyball star! I love seeing tall women grace the television screen, grace the sports world, and give my daughters a sense of belonging. I never really felt that, but I know times are changing.

My goal is to help my daughter's embrace who they are, who they become, their dreams and goals. Part of their journey will be brushing off the TALL and allowing people to get to know them, their quirks and strengths, for TALL is just one part of the whole.


26 comments:

  1. I'm almost 5'11 and my buddy Gabi (All Who Wander Are Not Lost) is 6'0. We revel in it. And hell yeah I wear heels. And here's the kicker: my husband is 5'7 1/2. (can't forget the 1/2 ;)

    And my oldest daughter is TALL (6 years old.) I say it gives them reason to be wild and colorful, because you know that people will be watching.

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  2. I'm tall, too. For the longest time I thought it was a BAD thing...now I'm so GLAD.

    I love being able to see over other people's head in a crowd. I love standing out in this way. I love that height gives some leeway on weight.

    I'm still trying to lose the slouch I developed in high school.

    I don't think it's anything your daughters need to get over. They are lucky!

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  3. Maybe my shortish 5'10" stature will offset the girls height? I love my tall ladies!!!
    -hubbs (one of these days i'll choose an identity and not come up as anonymous)

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  4. I'm 5'8". I have always been taller than most people. And my husband isn't much taller. I love high heels but I don't wear them often because I hate being taller than him.

    Both my kids are already in the 98% for height. I think being tall is a blessing and a curse....

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  5. One of my best friends was already 5'10" in 8th grade. I wasn't even 5 feet yet. We were quite the pair. ;) I do know it was a struggle for her, and having the nickname "tree" didn't help either. Not to mention the cute shoes never came in her size.

    But hopefully things are changing. People are getting taller in general, I think, so hopefully it won't be as difficult for your daughter. Hopefully. :)

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  6. I'm tall, tall, tall too and have been forever. I was 5'10" in the 8th grade too. It was hard being the tallest person (boy or girl) around but I did get over it eventually.

    I think it is better now so hopefully your girls won't have the same problems we did growing up.

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  7. I'm shortish or well average at 5'4 and a half. But my husband is almost 6'5. Morgan is in the 79% for height and only like the 9th for weight. So we, get the questions too. I just figure, now you can show them famous women who are tall. Be confident in it yourself and hopefully they will be too. :)

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  8. I know I've said this, sorry. I meant it more in she's getting so big! I hate it when people say my kids are so tiny, so little, so petite. Of course it's because hubby and I are shorties. I don't worry about it as much with Ms. E, but more with Mr. E. Everyone always seems to laugh about the short guy. We'll just have to teach him how to box and do karate ;)

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  9. My dad, mom and sister are all tall. I was the midget of the family. In family pictures they all stood next to each other in a row, and I would stand in front of them like a child. They all were the normal ones, I was just "short." They would make fun of me when I had to climb on the counters to reach the top shelf. It was fun living with tall people, in a sadistic sort of way.

    Your daughter probably can't want to grow up and be tall like her mom :)

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  10. I was really tall until I was a teenager. Then things kind of leveled out. But I know how hard it is to be the tallest girl in your class. You feel "big" and that's just not a self esteem enhancer...

    But I think you're right - tall is more "in" now. And playing up tall role models has to help.

    Also - you can model the right attitude for your girls. When they see their tall mother looking tall/glamorous/confident/powerful/etc. - then they will be more likely to see themselves that way.

    I think it's impossible to avoid insecurity growing up - but we have to at least TRY to help right?

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  11. I don't feel sorry for you at all :), I think being short SUCKS way more!!!! Plus, you know the size of my extremely TALL child and I get the how did he get THAT tall, you're so short. Sorry but no one gets to model because she is short and gymnast are all we have to look to in the short sports department. Plus being mistaken for being 12 and getting the children's menu at restaurants when you are 16 because of your size is not fun. Not to mention when you gain an extra five pounds! Just feeling sorry for myself...;)

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  13. I'm with Jennie. I'm 5' even, not even a half or a quarter inch to spare. I'm 29 and I still get carded at R rated movies...Yes, I GET CARDED AT MOVIES. Let's not even talk about how people treat me at bars or liquor stores.

    Being short is much more difficult. Tall women, while not the norm, have a defined place of beauty (as models) and athleticism. Not us short girls. We have gymnastics and are considered old at 20.

    Gaining weight, don't even want to go there. :-) TWO POUNDS looks like a lot on me, and I can gain that just from being bloated before my period.

    I'm not saying I don't feel sympathy for you... Our culture is not one that makes it easy to be anything but "perfect" and "average." I'm just saying...trying being 5 feet tall and almost 30! :-)

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  14. I shot up quick and was the tallest all through grade school and I am still trying to correct my posture- my default is to slouch. I didn't want to stand out, which is funny because now all I want to do is stand out. In the end I was 5'6" - not that tall - wish now I was taler. Your question is a good one - how do we protect our children, particularly our daughters who go through that painful awkward stage - can we make it different? i hope so - maybe all together we can find some answers xoxoxox

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  15. I have the exact opposite problem..and totally fine with it too...

    One of my very best friends is maybe an inch taller than you..so we make a funny pair...but then again so do my husband and I:) he's 6'3

    hoping one day my tall friend moves here and you guys can meet...she reads and enjoys your blog too:)

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  16. It's so funny that being tall caused you so much grief; being short (5'1") has been the bane of my freakin' existence! :)

    I'm sure you'll help guide your daughters. And the next time I hear a mom tell another mom her kid is fat, I'll punch that first mom in the face. For serious.

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  17. Well the other good news is that there are a lot more clothes for tall or short people nowadays. I'm not tall but have long legs and it was awful growing up finding things, but there is so much more choice now, thankfully.

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  18. Omgosh! Hi Denise! I saw this link from fb and of course the 'TALL' caught my eye! Holy comments that range all over the place too!

    I think one of our first real converstations way back when was about our tallness! While everyone has their own things they would like to change about themselves.. I feel every word that you wrote here. And I certainly can see the dilemma about how to build confidence within your daughter during the tough teenage years you will face.

    My first thought is that you will be able to give her your understanding and words of wisdom to help her get through it. You will be able to tell her you understand because you have been there and you will be able to remind her to stand up TALL! You can help her to mature in ways that will help her for the rest of her life. The 'is what it is' mentality. No bitterness, no fear, or disdain with the descriptive word TALL.

    I have thought about the "if I had a girl scenario" and how it would be more challenging/different at times because I assume my girl would have been TALL. With boys naturally it is more accepted for them to grow up to be TALL. I find myself thinking in my head, "Grow, grow, grow!"

    Hope you are well, Good luck!

    :) Jen Wedin

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  19. I feel your pain. We're the same height, and I was this tall in 8th grade. Painful to be that tall. A hs friend posted a picture (on Facebook) of me in 8th grade, singing in swing choir. I towered over everyone. I still feel huge, though I'm really not. I am taller than my husband, and try to avoid high heels for that reason. I still have to make myself not slouch, not so much because of the height, but because I can't really hear anyone much shorter than me. Oh, and yeah, the height. I don't have the problem of super-tall kids; the oldest is small for his age and the youngest is tall for his age. Evens out. When you have a tall kid, you forget their real age, and they do get treated as though they are older. Happened to me growing up, all the time.
    Sometimes height just isn't all it's cracked up to be. I can reach high shelves, but can't find pants. Not much of a trade-off. ;)

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  20. Tell them that being short sucks (I should know). They will be tall, beautiful and powerful. All will envy them.

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  21. This is an awesome post. Being another tall woman, I agree wholeheartedly with all the points you bring up. High school was difficult but I wouldn't trade being tall for anything these days.

    I love your opinions on raising tall children as well. My husband is 6'4" and although we're not trying to have kids yet, when we do, they're going to be VERY tall. I'll probably have more questions for you then.

    From one tall lady to another, thanks for sharing.

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  22. I am tall, tall, tall. I am 6'1.5" and my husband is 6'9"...we get the long lingering looks a lot. We both played sports in college, so many of our friends are also tall. The best advice my parents gave me is to be proud of the body that God graced us with and if people make fun of me it is probably because they were jealous. I really believed this as a child and it gave me great confidence.

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  23. I know this is an old post, but I enjoyed it so much, I am 5'9 and have pretty thin bones. If I'm a few pounds,5 over, you can really tell. I can't hide anything. And i get carded ALL the time at 32. Short people think their the only ones that have these problems, not so. And I know what your talking about with the tall comments on the kids. My reply is always, well i'm 5'9". And then they say, but oh, kinda stupid like. I found your site by way of your post last year debating if you would take your kids to blogher. I really want to be in NYC right now, but happier here at home with the tot.

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  24. Maybe it would help your daughters if you could help them to look up to some good tall girl role models? For example, Michelle Obama is tall AND she she is a successful academic. Lindsay Davenport is tall AND she is a great tennis player. Michelle Wie is tall AND she is a great golfer. Janet Reno is tall AND a famous lawyer/ judge/ former attorney general. There are so many to choose from, that you just choose the ones that have qualities that you admire. Help the girls to respond with 'I love being tall and I love being ...(smart, sporty, artistic, healthy etc..). And let's face it, in today's model conscious world, is anyone seriously saying that tall is not part of being beautiful?

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  25. I just found your wonderful blog, and although this is an older post, I had to comment. My sister-in-law is 6'3 and she tells me the moms' reaction to these comments is critical. So when people remark about my very tall daughter, "Oh My God, she is so TALL!" I reply, "Thanks! Isn't she lucky? It's so great!" Here's to teaching our girls to stand TALL no matter what their height!
    From one tall mama to another! -- Joy

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  26. Great blog. I'm 5ft 2 and have always been short, my husband
    is 6ft 2. My 8 year old is 5ft already and I get so sick
    of the TALL comments. Everyone feels able to
    say it. Teachers and other mums are the worst. They say it
    every time they see us together, as if I haven't
    noticed. So funny. I worry my daughter will end up over
    6 ft but I make her height something to be proud of
    and so far she is. She is amazing at sport and beautiful too. Lucky
    girl I say. Lucky all tall ladies!

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