There is a saying, stand tall. Luckily, we were born already standing tall ;)

As a woman, I was always told to be smaller and take up less space. But here I was taller than all of the boys up until halfway through high school. I out grew clothes too fast. No jeans could fit right. And the cute dresses all the girls got to wear at school looked like t-shirts on me. I had to stand in the back with the boys for pictures. My PE teacher wouldn’t let me play basketball with the girl’s team during class. I always had to play with the boys and they got mad because I was “not tough enough”. I stopped taking hot baths because I would struggle to stay warm as half my body would be out of the water. Airplane seats were a nightmare. After all that growing, I reached 5'10.

All of my friends would tell me, you are never going to find a guy who is taller than you when you wear heels….There was a huge pressure for that height difference where the girl could stand on her toes and kiss the guy she was with. Knowing me, he would have to stand on his toes. I wore baggy jeans everyday and long sweatshirts so I would look shorter. I do not know if it worked.

But, modeling made me love my height. All of the girls were my height and none of us were seen as different. In fact, we would compete almost for who was taller as a joke. The girls I was with loved their height in those few moments when we were in the studio. I loved spending time perfecting my walk. I became more confident, not by external validation, but because I learned how to command a room without saying anything. Good posture and confident stride did wonders for my self acceptance. I needed modeling to be able to be confident to pull out those heels and a cute dress. And instead of bending my knees to look shorter or slouch, I stood up straight. That was a big thing for me because I was comfortable in my own body. I would look in the mirror and smile because I was actually loving myself. Modeling gave my height a purpose. You had to have long legs to be able to pull of that outfit and you had to have long arms to look like you are gliding across that runway. I’m not saying I walk around Target like I am on a catwalk, but I no longer subconsciously slouch to fit in. In that world, tall girls were considered beautiful, it was the norm.

In college, it got bad again for me. Maybe because I was in an all girls school in high school and height was not a deal for them. But, boys now felt the need to comment.

They would tell me, “You would be gorgeous, if you were not so…so TALL!”

“Can you crouch a little bit so I can be taller?”

“Wow your hands are almost as big as mine! You are an honorary bro now!”

“Woah, your legs are so long! Can I feel them?”

“I could never date you! Have you seen how tall you are?”

The worst is when they would feel personally offended that you were taller than them.

Him: “Oh I guess we are the same height.”

Me: “Yeah! Let’s go get the tacos I’m hungry.”

Ten minutes of awkward silence later, “You know, even though we are the same height, I have a beard.”

I never understood why being tall insulted a person’s masculinity. But it did somehow. And it was something I felt like I had to confess. Like if I was going to meet a guy, I had to warn him about how tall I was. And after that he would decide if that was alright for him or not. I began hating my height again; epecially when a guy I liked would make comments about how “big” and “bulky” I was. He would always wish that I was shorter than him. And he threw my heels away. Every week, he would ask if the height difference bothered me. My body was the topic of almost every discussion. “Look at how cute that short girl is. I wish you would not look so much like a man.”

These words stuck with me. My height made me feel like I was less of a woman.

I wanted a guy for his humor and intellect. If a guy responded to my sarcasm with more sarcasm, I would be happy. I wanted to be myself around him. But, I was making a mistake. My height was a part of me. So whoever I am with should be able to love that part of me as well.

You may not think height is a big deal. And it isn’t. But society makes it something that you are conscious of everyday. You cannot go out without at least one person reminding you of your height. And the worst is when people make it seem like being tall is something to be ashamed of. We never tell people “WOW you are short!” Instead, we hold our tongues and say thank you. And it takes a lot of strength not to answer back.

Regardless of if people tell us we are complaining about something insignificant, our experiences with our height shaped our process of self acceptance just as weight or race would. And it is time to be more receptive and aware of that.

Girls are always quick to comment and say WOW you look beautiful in that dress. I’m sure there are guys out there who will love your height. But honestly, this has to start with you loving that part of yourself too. It is really hard, and some days you will not like being tall. But, you cannot allow yourself to be dependent on what other people think about your body. Tall or short. You are so much more than those numbers. Just like your hair color, just like your body shape, just like your skin color, you must also accept and love your height because if you don’t have that confidence, the way you treat yourself will fluctuate based on what people are saying about it. And you are not a product for sale. You do not succeed or not based on your reviews. I lived like that and it resulted in me actually hating something that made me unique. Now I love the journey.

If I was not tall, I would have never been able to grow in the ways I did throughout my life so far. And it helped me shape the people I want in my life. I have friends who build me up instead of compare our physical attributes with each other (I always get dibs on the aisle row on planes and the front seat!). And at bars if someone tries anything I usually can put my intimidating height to use. And yeah I get to “be one of the bros” and we run together because apparently my long legs can keep up with theirs. And one day when the time is right, I will find a guy who appreciates my height just as I do regardless of how much taller or shorter they are. When they look at me, they won’t be focused on wow she is TALL. They will say wow she is NATASHA.

There is a saying, stand tall. Luckily, we were born already standing tall ;)

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