A Tall Dose of Confidence

A few weeks ago, I received the follow message via Instagram:

“How are you so confident with your height? 😅 I’m 5’8 and I’m always self conscious with the way I look, especially my height. I have heels but I don’t wear them a lot because I feel like everyone just stares at me because I tower over them.”

I will preface my response by saying that I think the young lady who asked this is in middle or high school. 5′-8″ seems a typical height to me, but I know that being tall is relative to one’s age.

But back to the question. It took me two days to even respond back to her because, to be honest, there is a lot to unpack for me. I related on such a personal level to the insecurity that underscored her message. I knew if I tried to write it in a message, I wouldn’t be able to cover it all and I told her such.

The summer between middle school / eighth grade and high school / ninth grade, I shot up enough inches to stand out against the other freshmen. Who would think that the girl who is 5′-10″ is fourteen? (I was on the young side. One of the youngest in my grade, I only turned eighteen only five days before leaving for college.)

On the other hand, there have been downsides, some of which I have addressed in past blog posts: getting sent home from school because my shorts were too short (an American Eagle pair of khaki shorts that nearly every girl had in her back-to-school wardrobe) and sticking up for myself when a rude girl in my Geometry class made a comment about me choosing to wear a chunky-heeled Esprit loafer. I know it is difficult to tune out these outside voices – clearly I have not forgotten them – but you just have to do your best to filter out the bad stuff and let in the positive stuff.

Growing confident did not come naturally or overnight, as I think is the case with all young ladies. There were a few things that happened that helped me gain confidence in relation to my height:

  • My mom and I were in the waiting room at my old dentist. This must have been around 1998; late enough to realize that my height was going to be a “thing” but no earlier than hitting my peak height of 6′-2″. An old People magazine from 1997 was sitting on top of one of those waiting room side tables. One of the front page headlines boasted Attack of the Six Foot Tall Woman, along with a very glam photo of Cameron Diaz. I snatched that magazine and when I wasn’t finished reading the article when my mom was ready to go, did I take it with me? Maybe. (Read: Definitely.) I read the piece from title to end and every caption, and realized that I, too, can capitalize on my height. I only wish the linked article had the layout available; the women featured were so fabulous!
  • Having taken dance classes from elementary school into the junior year of high school also helped with my confidence. While I spent many a number towards the back in the line formations, there were two teachers in particular who recognized my attendance (my mom would not allow me to skip a class), effort, and dedication and disregarded my height as they pulled me to the front lines. (Shout out to Miss Harmony who taught lyrical and Mr. Richard who taught pointe.) At the very least, hours and hours in the studio ensured that the good posture became second nature.
  • I found a pair of 36″ inseam jeans. The 1999 Abercrombie & Fitch Slouchy Bootcut style was not the cheap denim the retailer later offered in the early-to-mid aughts. These were the jeans that LFO sang about (RIP Rich Cronin). I was thrilled to find this pair in my length at the New Orleans Riverwalk location of A&F. I wore them nearly twice – thrice? – a week from 1999 to 2003. This is all to say, much like Wonder Woman armour, an well-fitting outfit does wonders for one’s esteem. Find your slouchy bootcut jeans.
  • Around the time I was a senior in high school, I came to terms that this is the body that God gave me and it is something that I would never be able to change and I wouldn’t want to. Height is my thing. I know I am pretty average in terms of looks but people notice when I walk into a room thanks to my height.

Did you know that Jenna Lyons of J.Crew is over six feet tall? True story, and she shared her story! If you haven’t read Jenna’s essay “The Watermelon Skirt” in Lenny Letter, what are you waiting for? Read it and come back to the rest of this post…

Are you back? Good. I hope you enjoyed Jenna’s essay as much as I do.

I reached out to my network of fellow tall ladies (we have each others’ back and trust when I tell you that it is a wonderful sisterhood) and they had the following to say:

It honestly has taken me years to accept the fact that I am tall. However I have over the years learned how beneficial it truly is to be tall. First off wear those heels and strut your stuff. I didn’t start wearing heels until a couple of years ago, and I wish I would have started wearing them sooner.Abby Brady, The Classy Giraffe

Being young and tall can be hard because when you’re young. You aren’t trying to stand out, you’re trying to fit in, and being tall makes it really hard to do that.  The one thing I’d remind young girls is that for one, you are not alone.  No, every girl won’t have the same trigger, but most every girl has some trigger that may negatively affect their self-esteem. Whether it’s being too short, too thin, too big, too tall, it’s going to be something. You are not alone! You were made exactly the way you’re supposed to be made with purpose by God. Every inch is precious. Standing out is a wonderful thing you’ll have to learn to love, but in time you will. I’ve heard so many shorter people wishing they could stand taller than they do.  Know it’s an asset, and treat it as such.  They use tall women as models, for goodness sakes. Why do you think that is? Because tall women are beautiful! You are beautiful! TallnNatural

For me, it was always the ill fitting clothes that made me the most self conscious. Because I knew when people stared because of my 6’4″ height, it gave them more to stare and gawk at when my clothes didn’t fit. Maybe it’s finding a tall friend or two to walk around with, or share stories with. There is power in numbers and it wasn’t until I had met other tall women that I truly embraced myself and began to celebrate my height.Helen, Talltique

I tell my daughter who is 10 and 5′-7″ (the last we checked) that it is okay to be different. Everyone in the world now is trying to be unique and different so they can be seen as an individual. We are blessed to be born with a height that instantly makes us stand out from the crowd. All we need to do is add a little sparkle to it with our personality. And in order to do that you have to not be afraid of being yourself. Wear what you want and walking with your back straight and head high automatically screams confidence. It’s your way of saying look out world, I am here.AkiaDanielle, The East on the West

Here’s what finally helped me stand tall and love myself: positive affirmations and meditation every night! I know that might sounds silly, but I write things down in a piece of paper like…I love myself, I cannot change my height, and that’s okay because I am beautiful. I stand out for a reason, and if I can’t go unnoticed, I want to be a positive influence. I am loved, I am appreciated, I am important, there are people who love me and my height. Models are tall, most people wish they were actually taller, I am strong and brave and not afraid, etc, etc… And then one day after a hard day of school, I stopped and asked myself, what good positive thought have I actually thought today? And because I was so sick of feeling down all the time, I told myself that I was going to think something positive of everyone I saw that next day instead of something negative. It was challenging, especially when it came to running into a bully, so I would pick something as silly as, I like that button on her shirt, or I like the color of his hair, etc, etc. And by the end of the day, I felt so good! Then after reading those positive affirmations every night and clearing my mind for a minutes each day, I really started to like being me and felt at peace with what I was and didn’t care anymore what anyone thought. – Nichole Terry, Alluring Heights

Let’s conclude this with a list of famous ladies topping 6′-0″:

  1. Aisha Tyler (6′-0″)
  2. Brooke Shields (6′-0″)
  3. Carolyn Bessette Kennedy (RIP) (6′-0″)
  4. Famke Janssen (6′-0″)
  5. Geena Davis (6′-0″)
  6. Jane Lynch (6′-0″)
  7. Jordin Sparks (6′-0″)
  8. Kimora Lee Simmons (6′-0″)
  9. Tilda Swinton (6′-0″)
  10. Uma Thurman (6′-0″)
  11. Karlie Kloss (6′-1″)
  12. Kristen Johnston (6′-1″)
  13. Venus Williams (6′-1″)
  14. Maria Sharapova (6′-2″)
  15. Gwendoline Christie (6′-3″)

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