Contributed by Strong is Our Sexy reader Lauryn Page for Body Image Month. Don’t miss the partner perspective to this article, Point of View: The Trials and Triumphs of Being Tall.
I’ve always been aware that I am small.
When I was a little girl, my parents would have to hold down the folded seats in the movie theater for me. If they didn’t, the seat would fold up on me, and all you’d be able to see were my tiny feet sticking out from the top. “You weighed as much as a postage stamp,” my Mom says when she tells the story. So my parents were left to eat and balance their popcorn with one hand, the other busy providing the extra weight needed to keep me from being swallowed up by the chair-monster.
Other childhood memories spring to mind when I think about my height: having to wait longer than my friends to go on certain rides at Kings Island, or being in a car seat for an unusually long time. I knew I was small, and I was ok with it, because compared to all of the adults in my life, my peers were pretty small too!
“You’ll grow up and get big and tall,” was what I always heard. I figured my time to be tall was coming.
As the years went on, I certainly got taller, but I soon learned that “tall” was never going to be something I would be able to achieve. “Good thing I gave up my dream of ballerina when I was, like, ten,” I would joke to my mom after every doctor’s appointment where I would have my height and weight measured once again, my petite figure reaffirmed with sliding scales and notes jotted on a clipboard.
Being short was never a huge insecurity of mine, but I found that people’s reactions to my tiny stature, reactions that had once been little perks when I was younger, were now morphing into huge annoyances.
You know how people make that high-pitched squeezing sound whenever they see a video of a puppy doing something cute? I’ve noticed that the pitch of people’s voice changes when they talk to me, too. I’ve had several instances when I’ve been waiting in line, whether it be at a register, a doctor’s office, or even the bank, and the person behind the desk will adopt a more high-pitched, cooing sort of tone with me that they hadn’t had with the taller woman who had been there before me.
I think “short” still translates to “cute” or “childlike” in the minds of some people, which is fine when you’re a kid, but frustrating as an adult trying to be taken seriously in the world. I get bumped into by taller people, who are quick to apologize with the explanation of “Sorry, didn’t see you there.”
The feeling of invisibility both in the real world and the world of the media, where tall models with their long legs are the fashionable norm, can be frustrating and isolating at times. Even trying on maxi dresses or high-waisted jeans at the mall and realizing you can’t pull them off as well as your tall friends can be disheartening!
But you know what? It doesn’t matter: you should buy them anyway.
Comparison is the killer of confidence.
As I’ve grown, I’ve surrounded myself with strong, encouraging women who have really helped me grow, and the importance of a healthy body image has become something very important to me. As a result, I’ve come to see the positive in my short stature!I can wear heels and not tower over anyone and I never have to duck to walk through tiny doorways (a legitimate concern for some of my taller friends. Ouch).
I think being short has helped me realize that comparing my body to the bodies of others is a waste of time and energy. The tall model on the billboard shouldn’t make me feel like my short self is any less important or powerful. I can still present a powerful image if I have confidence despite my perceived flaws, and that confidence is powerful, whether in a conference room or meeting new people in a social setting.
My short frame may sit at only a little over five feet, but with confidence, I feel I can touch the sky.
Don’t miss the partner perspective to this article, Point of View: The Trials and Triumphs of Being Tall. Read more from the Body Image Month series here.