My daughter, Anna, is five foot, eleven inches tall.
If your metrics are metric, well, that makes her one-point-eight metres.
Clothing-wise, here in Northamptonshire, she’s a size eight to ten.
If she were living the good life in Los Angeles, she’d be a size six.
To paint a picture around these numbers, she’s the same size Julia Roberts was when she Pretty-Woman-ed her way into our hearts in the early nineties.
I was always under the impression that having the same measurements as a runway model was a good thing, something to be pleased about. An enviable, fortuitous gift from the divine that people like Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista and Cindy Crawford got to goddess around with while the rest of us waddled around in our ground-bound, muddy little goblin-holes.
I was apparently misled.
Being tall is no longer a good thing.
And it’s Anna’s number one insecurity.
It’s the reason lots of dudes don’t want to date her.
It’s the reason she gets teased, in fact, it’s the first insult that gets snidey-ed at her when shade starts being thrown.
It’s the single most common observation ever made to her, and about her.
And it makes her want to hide behind the couch although, to be fair, she can’t really hide behind the couch because quite a lot of her sticks out either end but, effective hide-and-seek gameplay notwithstanding, how come being tall has turned into such an issue for young women?
Because apparently, it has.
The adjective ‘tall’ is now a social phenomena that requires the optional addition of an ‘ist’ as a suffix.
Now, it’s true, the majority of folks who meet her and exclaim “Wow, you’re so tall” as the first thing they say, do so not out of malice, but surprise. And I also think that for the majority of people, in their heads, it’s a compliment.
I agree, I always took it that way as well, I’d be over here beaming with pride but had completely not grasped how skin-crawlingly conspicuous it made Anna feel.
And, to be fair, I bet most people don’t walk up to Will Smith and exclaim “Shit, you’re really, really black aren’t you?” or greet Ellen DeGeneres by pointing out that yes Ellen, your career is pretty impressive, but “Holy shit, you are literally as gay as fuck innit?”.
So I guess it’s a question worth asking: Why do we think it’s okay to cheerfully point out to someone that we think they’re freakishly tall?
Personally, I’m a bit tall and I love it.
But as we know, I enjoy intimidating people and making them uncomfortable so, if having a bit of height enables me to step up on some gobby jerk in a parking-space related fracas and pat him on the head while murmuring softly: “Calm down little gnome” – then it’s all gravy for me.
“Don’t throw your magic parking coins at my head little hobbit, you’ll need them to enter Mordor on your quest” has definitely come out of my mouth before now.
Yep, I thoroughly enjoy being mid-range tall.
But it’s 2020 and I’m apparently going to have to leave my Deuce Bigalow years behind.
I’m going to need to remember in future that “Whoa, that’s a big bitch” is something I mustn’t say, even if I think it, and even if it’s meant as a joke.
No more jokes about Will Ferrell style Elf’s.
No more Lord of the Rings references.
Height is an issue fraught with tension.
It’s turned into a thing.
Height is a conversational iceberg that’s making its way into the shipping lane of modern dialogue.
Because more icebergs are just what we need around here.