Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Height Privilege

My initial intention when starting this blog was to understand different perspectives.  This month I've learned a lot about my tall girlfriends and their experiences growing up.  As we grow into ourselves, we learn to accept and love the many aspects of our being.  For many tall girls, height is something they've come to embrace, but it hasn't always been easy.

For example, one girlfriend remembers dating a shorter guy.  She said, "I always felt huge and not very feminine when I was with him. I felt more self conscious about my weight and awkward when we were out in public. Not only did it make me uncomfortable, but other guys would comment that I should be with a taller guy and ask what was I doing with such a little guy. When I was dating a shorter guy, I noticed myself rarely wearing heels and always searching for cute flats. I don't like wearing flats when I get dressed up. There is just something about putting on a pair of heels that made me feel more sexy and like a woman. I would only date guys over 6' once I got a little older."  I can relate to this friend's experience.  I believe most women want to feel delicate and protected when with their man. If he is shorter or thinner, it can be difficult to accept.

She went on to say, "When I was younger I hated being so tall. I felt like every guy I met was 5'10 and below, and all I wanted was to be short and petite. I was so self-conscious of my body image. I hated my height because being so tall meant you weighed more than most of your friends. I wore bigger clothing sizes and I could never find jeans that were long enough for me. I have a 34.5 inch inseem and in high school that was non-existent. Sleeves were always too short, and they never had my shoe size at the department stores. It wasn't until my freshman year in college when my mom bought me my first pair of Sevens that I actually liked the way they looked on me. I didn't have to pull them down so low and wear the crouch of the jeans at mid-thigh because they actually touched the ground being around my waist."

A few friends mentioned that strangers will comment on their height.  Sometimes this interactions are welcome; other times they feel intrusive. 

Many friends mentioned wearing flats when they are around shorter people so that they don't come across as overbearing.  One friend wrote, I will take the height of who I'm going out with into consideration sometimes. Like when I would go out with the boys, they were all shorter than me to begin with, so I wouldn't wear heels. Mainly so I won't tower over them."  I've come to realize that as a shorter woman, I experience a type of social "height privilege."  I am almost never taller than the guys I want to date.  I never have to base my shoe decisions on the people around me.  I automatically wear a smaller clothing size because my proportions are more compact.  My absence of worry makes me lucky in this way.  I'd never realized that before and now appreciate some of the social benefits of being shorter.

However, height can have it's advantages.  One tall girlfriend said, "it (my height) is an advantage at work, I believe I am taken more seriously when in meetings with men and women who are older or more experienced than me."  Additionally, tall women stand out.  "At my age, now I love being tall! When I walk in to a room people always seem to notice you, and it sets you aside from other girls, There aren't a ton of tall girls out there. I think being tall has helped me in many ways, for instance getting a job, invited to parties, making friends, getting guys attention, playing sports."  One tall male friend told me that taller women are easier to talk to in many social situations like bars and clubs.  For him, being able to see eye to eye with a woman is comfortable.  He finds it easier to hear and relate to these woman, instead of bending down to chat with shorter girls.  So there you have it...the tall and the short of the matter.

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