Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be really tall? A really tall person who also happens to be a woman?
Hi. I’m a 6’1″ overweight woman who likes to wear heels and wants to be feminine but doesn’t always succeed.
You see, when you’re a kid and you’re the tallest one in your class for… oh, let’s say from kindergarten to 7th grade (which is when the boys start having grow spurts), you come to the realization that being a pretty and petite girl isn’t going to be your future. You watch and compare yourself to all these slender, small girls around you that are your age, who grow up to be shorter than boys and who don’t look ridiculous in girly outfits because they’re not a freaking giant. Not only are you tall, but when you’re in high school you’re also heavier than the other girls. Which makes sense since you’re often more than a head taller than them, but somehow you don’t quite realize that when they weigh 110 pounds they’re at a healthy weight, but when you weigh 160 pounds you’re at a healthy weight too. You feel fat and undesirable because you don’t fit within the norm. And they’re very happy to remind you of that at every turn.
I remember when I was in 5th grade, my friend and I performed a dance to a Tarzan themed song in front of the class. My friend was Jane, and I… I was Tarzan. Because I was so tall. I didn’t have really have a say in the matter because “Jane isn’t taller than Tarzan!” so it was inconceivable that I may play the part of a lady.
I remember when the girls in my class started messing around with makeup, and I just couldn’t make it work out. I felt like I was too big of a freak of nature to be capable of looking pretty with makeup and I didn’t bother with it until I was well in my twenties. It didn’t help me feel more feminine.
I remember when I exceeded a EU shoe size of 42 and the bigger women’s shoe sizes weren’t yet as widely sold – 42 was as big as they were going to get. Especially in the part of the country where I live, large sizes are fairly uncommon. I either had to dish out over a hundred euros for a fitting pair of women’s shoes in a specialty store, or I had to shop in the men’s section. I’ve never been rich enough to justify that much money on shoes, so for many years I’ve put up with wearing cheap men’s shoes. It kind of is a blow to the gut when you’re shopping in the men’s section and try on men’s shoes in front of men. I want pretty girls’ shoes, not this.
And then there’s the matter of partners. All my childhood I was fed images of women leaning up to kiss their prince charming. Princesses were delicate and shorter than their princes. When exposed to lesbians, they were equals and petite and pretty. This is the most hurtful part for me to say: for many years I was incredibly conscious and shy about being taller than all my partners, men and women alike. I felt like a freak. A monstrosity. With me, men had to lean up to kiss me. With women I felt like I was more of a man than a woman. Even with men I sometimes felt more masculine than feminine. I was constantly worried that being taller than them made them feel uncomfortable and question their masculinity and see me as less desirable.
There’s nothing wrong with women not being feminine if they’re comfortable with it. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a snide remark to butch lesbians or gender neutral women or whatever else combination of sex and identity anyone has. This is all about mine: I’m a woman. I want to be a woman. I feel like a woman. Yet often I do not. I question my femininity. I feel like people see me as a giant or manly. All because my whole childhood has told me that I’m not feminine enough to be a pretty woman.
It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I will not get shorter just because I’m self-conscious or worried about it. I’m overweight (270lbs currently) and could stand to lose about 50 pounds, if only for my health’s sake. Sometimes it’s hard to realize that I’m just plain massive in both height and weight compared to the average woman and a lot of men. I’ve forced myself to speak positively about my appearance and make jokes about my height to overcome this. I have male friends who think it’s incredibly appealing that I’m so tall and I force myself to accept and believe that.
When I got together with my boyfriend a year ago, one of my biggest concerns was that he would be put off by my height. I very tentatively asked him if it mattered to him. “Are you ashamed about walking down the street with me? Does it bother you that I’m taller and heavier than you?” His response was an immediate no – it doesn’t bother him at all. It was a relief, followed by a shadow of disbelief clinging to the back of my mind. I’m not sure I’ll ever get fully rid of it, but I’ve come to realize that if a man feels that I emasculate him, the problem is with his security in his masculinity, not with my height. I know my beau doesn’t care what other people think, he does what makes him happy, even if his self-confidence isn’t always at its highest. (That’s part of the reason why I love him so much.)
Slowly but surely I’m climbing out of the hole I spent so much of my life in. I know how to use makeup and it makes me feel prettier. I love to wear dresses and skirts. Finally they’re selling high heel shoes in my size at reasonable prices so I’m no longer forced to buy men’s shoes. Finally I stopped caring that at 6’1″, I’m ‘not supposed to wear heels because I’m tall enough already’ -screw that!
I may not be a muscular superhero like Wonder Woman, but I’ve become proud of being known as an Amazon to my friends. I’m learning to let go and just embrace myself, because I’m pretty and feminine because that’s just what I am.