Contributed by Strong is Our Sexy reader Amaryl Gruber. Don’t miss the partner perspective to this article, Point of View: Sure, I’m Petite, But I Can Touch the Sky.
“Being tall is an advantage, especially in business. People will always remember you. And if you’re in a crowd, you’ll always have some clean air to breathe.” Julia Child
When I meet someone for the first time, the immediate question always is, “So, how tall are you?” I follow through with the simple answer of, “5’11”, how tall are you?” Once I announce my age to them, it’s almost like I opened the floodgates to answer every conceivable question that is asked of me, without protest.
“I bet you played sports in high school, basketball or volleyball, right?”
“So, are you a model? You should be. You are just so tall!”
“Is everybody in your family tall?”
“If you’re already tall, why do you wear heels?”
“How’s the weather up there?”
“Are you expecting a flood?”
and “So, is it hard to date?”
That last question is my favorite. I absolutely love it when people ask me about my dating life because I proudly tell them how dating for someone with height is just like dating for someone who isn’t as tall.
“Well, do you only date men who are taller than you?”
“Actually no, my boyfriend is 5’3”.” (That usually gets me either a shocked face, minimal laughter, or an unoriginal joke)
“How can you date someone SO much shorter than YOU?”
“How do you date someone who is taller than you?”
As a woman who is 5”11”, and has been for a decent portion of her life, I am no longer shocked or bothered by questions about my height. I get reactions about my name as well (but that’s a different article all on its own). I embrace it. I look forward to it when I have been sitting and then stand up and get noticed by someone, who then feels the need to question me from afar in a public space (because that’s polite to do in a library).
I do come from a very tall family. I have 5 siblings, 3 sisters and 2 brothers, and I am the second tallest sister. Both of my parents are taller than me. A majority of my cousins and relatives are of a similar height. Growing up in a tall family, you get used to constantly comparing your heights to your siblings and hoping for that extra inch. I used to buy shoes with heels just so I was a similar height to my sisters.
As I grew up, I shied away from wearing heels and had to change my style in order to “fit in” clothing and not stand out. I was never the tiny, petite girl in school. I like to say I went through my awkward phase for about half my life, due to constant body changes and the inability to dress myself in a flattering way. As a young girl, I realized I stood out, and after a while I made it my goal to stand out even more by dressing outlandishly and challenging the norm. I can now thank my 15 year old self for originality and personal style.
Having this gift of height comes with both advantages and disadvantages. I was just thanking fifteen-year-old Amaryl for my now creative fashionable outlook, but that was not always the case.
Being someone who was constantly growing can cause a variety of growing pains. For one, I do not know the last time I owned a pair of pants that did not make people think I was expecting the next great flood. It came down to either rocking skinny jeans or sticking to skirts and dresses. Being a tall, thin adolescent, everyone expected that I played basketball or volleyball, and were always shocked or told me I was wasting my “talent” by not playing sports. It’s not that I didn’t want to, but I am uncoordinated. People were constantly shocked that I only ever played soccer.
I guess I didn’t get the memo that people with height can only play two sports.
Dating. When it came to dating as a teen, I typically tried to date guys who were taller than me because I didn’t like the feeling of being an Amazon. As I became older and started dating in college, I realized that shrinking the dating poll to boys over 6’0” was not in my favor. I started looking for guys that shared my interest and sense of humor (GASP! Similarities in dating?) and realized it wasn’t necessary me that disliked dating shorter men, but that men under 5’11” seemed intimidated.
Now, for anyone who has met me, I can’t say that’s their initial describing word. I would say I am a very approachable woman with nice legs.
I have had two serious relationships since becoming an adult. Both men have been under 5’6”. I will admit, for a while it was hard to get used to. But once I got past the awkward feeling of hand-holding in public and worrying if people were staring, I started to realize, “who cares? Why does it matter if a tall woman dates a shorter man? Who said the man has to be taller than the women?”
Once I realized that society’s views of my relationships were no longer clouding my brain, I felt empowered to start wearing heels while with my significant others. Currently, I am dating a man who is legally 5’3” and loves it when I wear heels out in public when we are together; who thought awkward 15 year Amaryl would ever be so lucky?!
At this time in my life, I no longer have any problems with my gift of height. I have fully embraced it. I now carry myself taller. I used to slouch and stand knock kneed just to feel like I didn’t stand out as much. But today, I can proudly say I truly walk taller, and I am proud of the body I have. I have started taking modeling classes and I’m learning to love my body and what it is capable of in pole fitness.
I never thought I’d embrace my height as well as I have, but it was a journey that took some time. Throughout the years, I have had multiple body issues. I hadn’t always loved myself and made excuses for why I couldn’t do things just due to my proportions. But, I have realized that I am just as capable as anyone else to do the things that make me happy, regardless of my height.
“And where she stood, she stood tall.” – The Lumineers
Don’t miss the partner perspective to this article, Point of View: Sure, I’m Petite, But I Can Touch the Sky. Read more from the Body Image Month series here.