Sunday, 10 March 2013

The "Gentle Giant" syndrome

So what you may not know about me, if you don't know me, is that I'm tall. Very tall. Stupidly tall. Well, for a girl anyhow. A whole 5 foot 10 and half inches. Let me put it this way, if I put on a pair of standard three inch heels, I'll be over six foot. I'm not the most pillar-like out there, but us lengthy females are a little fewer and further between.

Aside from the fact that my height makes it very difficult for me to be included effectively in any photos, I wanted to raise awareness about the insecurities that are included with such a feature.

No people, it's not something to be jealous of, to me anyway. Don't say "but it's like being a model?!", because for those of us that don't end up models, how are we then supposed to justify being this way? Being really tall is the polar opposite of being small, same problems, different perspective.

The biggest issue I have grown up with, is struggling to be considered 'feminine'. Standard clothes don't really fit you, size eight shoes in the sale always end up being a selection of the best granny clogs around, and perhaps worst of all is being confused for a man a couple of times. When out with your girlfriends, men will consciously, and quite obviously, ignore you. I have had it openly explained to me that they are just plain intimidated. When you're trying to 'scout for talent', the line-up is sparse verging on non existant.  Already being this height from age fourteen onwards, understandably doubts form, teasing ensues, and everything about being a teenager kicks in, creating insecurities set for life.

As a result, I grew up quite tomboyish and pretty shy. When you're this big, who needs an 'expressive' personality? It's ironic that people are intimidated by size, I would say taller people are more introverted because of it. The 'gentle giant' syndrome is no myth.

Society constantly talks about the negatives of being short, and builds a picture of the 'average' person being of a shorter height. Quite often, in sitcoms or dramas, any women who are characterised as being tall are at the receiving end of the jealousy stick and are therefore portrayed as being arrogant, vacant, or shallow. The best examples are the many occasions during "Sex and the City" where Carrie is pitting herself against that 'tall, skinny, twenty something'. The only example where I'm proved wrong is in British comedy series "Miranda", but even then isn't Miranda considered quite masculine, which she deals with by being 'kooky' instead? A substitution which can seem quite frustrating at times, though admittedly hilar', bear with. It basically seems that, because people associate tall women with being like that of perfect models, they are immediately assumed to be at an advantage, when the reality is is that this height could come with a lot of emotional baggage.

The first thing people usually say when they see me is "you're tall aren't you?" I was Goal Keeper in my netball team at school (surprise), and whenever I blocked the ball the people around me would say, "She's so tall," as if that was explanation for my success, skill or talent having nothing to do with it. I've had men walk past in the street, literally point their finger at me, and say "GOD you're tall!" Please people, one request, don't state that absolute obvious. I get it is surprising, but, to me, my height is my biggest problem. It's taking your insecurity, and being reminded of it every time you meet someone new. This is probably quite childish of me to bring up, and I realise that some readers will be thinking I'm an absolute nuggin', but since when are insecurities not stupid from someone else's perspective? Each to their own.

But don't worry! This post isn't all me whining and complaining! I kind of grew out of it, pun (I guess) not intended. When you reach your twenties, you're more comfortable with your person, and all that stupid school day awkwardness leaves you, to an extent. I say f**k 'em. People are short (sorry), and guys are stupid. People warm to someone who seems confident in their own skin, so there is no use wearing baggy clothes that hides yourself and proves them right. I still take my flats with me on a night out, just in case I feel too tall in my heels at some point, but hey ho, small steps (again, pun not intended).

This post is rather negative and egotistic but I guess I just wanted to open a few people's eyes as to how I, as a tall person, see things. If you are tall, or short, let me know if you feel differently? Do you love your height? What do you do to tackle your insecurities?

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