My Daughter Is Tall. So What?
Please, no tall girl slouch for my kid.
As a tall woman, I’m used to hearing comments about my height. (I’m six feet, by the way). The best is when someone who is 5’ 2’ says, “I’d like to be another two or three inches taller…” meaning, essentially, that they’d like to be a little taller but surely not as tall as me. Cause I’m a freak. Thank you for saying that in a more politically correct way! My body messed up and became too tall. WTF, body, get it together!
Well, I love my body — all 72 inches of her. She makes it easier for me to reach salad dressing from the top shelf at the grocery store, and she is elegant, often associated with supermodel status (though the only runways I’m walking down are the aisles of Trader Joe’s). So many people go unseen their whole lives but I literally can’t. I’m too tall to go unnoticed. I enter a room and people are forced to see me. What a strange but all-too-common-to-me existence.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve hated my body for being so tall. Blast you, middle school years, you were so cruel. She was not home to me, but more of a jail with a prisoner inside who could not go unnoticed. I longed to go unnoticed. I saw you were supposed to fit in when I looked at my peers, but my height wouldn’t let me. On top of that, I couldn’t even do the “tall girl slouch” because I was braced due to scoliosis. I had the best posture, albeit forced, and the worst luck with finding pants with long enough inseams or high enough crotches. (It’s not just our legs that are long; the entire tall-girl body is longer so the crotch has to adjust for that, just an fyi.)
Now I am a mother in my mid-30s to three wonderful children. It’s evident these lengthy genes of mine have been passed on to my 6-year-old-daughter, and I can’t help but wonder if and when her insecurities related to her inches will creep their way into her brain. For now, she is “tall like Mommy” and she takes pride in being the tallest in her kindergarten class (that’s my girl!). It’s as if she, at a mere 6 years old, has already found home in her body and even celebrates it. I love seeing that.
But the fact is, middle school (again, so cruel!) and the rest of her life await to make her question her love. Her crushes will be shorter than her — most likely significantly shorter for several years — and society still tends to embrace the taller man/shorter woman combo. She will be deemed as a grade or two older and have to navigate the pressure of needing to act older because of something completely out of her control. She’ll have to learn how to respond to the cliche questions: “What sports do you play?” “Do you wear heels? “Is your boyfriend taller than you?” (I personally always wanted to answer, “No” to this question and to hear their reaction, or lack thereof, because what would you say if I did say no?) She literally cannot hide all the things that make her different, and I want her to love herself for her difference and not in spite of it.
I want my daughter to avoid the pressure to do the tall-girl-accordion-bend in photos with her shorter best friends when taking a picture, not because it makes her look better but because she is beautiful at the height she is. I want her to see how she adds spice and presence to the world as a strong and tall girl. To see tallness as a gift. To tell her, “Tall girl, you WILL command the room! Now, what beautiful and positive things will you do with your power?” And she will respond, “Simply be myself, but of course. Make my dreams a reality and be myself.”
And if she does fall prey to “tall girl” insecurities, I will be there to listen and to relate. I’ll be there with dual emotions: One of deep sadness that hates seeing her struggle and wants to protect her, and one of deep confidence that just knows she will be more than all right and will one day come to love her height. I’ll love my tall daughter in all her stages, and I’ll do my damn best to help her always stand tall.
Meg Raby is a mom, children's author of the My Brother Otto series, and Autistic residing in Salt Lake City where you can find her playing and working with neurodivergent children as a Speech Language Pathologist and friend, or writing and planning big things in the second booth at her local coffee shop that overlooks the Wasatch Mountains while sipping on her Americano. Meg believes the essence of life is to understand, love and welcome others (aka, to give a damn about humans).