Last week we had the opportunity to sit down with SHAPE magazine to talk about our newly established More Than My Height community and what we hope to accomplish through this platform. Before I get into the heart of this post, Amy and I just want to say thank you so much to everyone who liked and/or shared our article on Facebook and for those who left us kind, encouraging notes in the comments or emailed us to tell us about how much this platform speaks to you. It means the world to have your support, and we hope we do you proud!!
We’ve been running Amalli Talli’s social media for over 3 years now (just Amy and I), so we’re no strangers to the fact that not everyone is going to engage with you in a friendly and positive way all the time. It’s just unrealistic to expect that. Inevitably, you can’t make everybody happy. We’ve learned to filter through people’s responses and shrug off anything that doesn’t serve us or help us grow our business. Well, I guess I should say we’re continually learning to shrug overly negative and/or mean-spirited comments off – we still have our days where people get under our skin! But when SHAPE posted our article on their Facebook page, a woman made a comment under the article that I just couldn’t shrug off and I genuinely felt like I needed to address it in my own way… and then Amy and I decided it was a conversation worthy of a blog post!
The purpose of the article in SHAPE was to help explain why height should be included and why it needs to be talked about more in the body-positive movement. We feel so strongly about this because people are generally oblivious to the fact that their comments towards tall women’s bodies (making them feel abnormal or masculine or a host of other feelings) can have devastating effects on their self-esteem – this is particularly true for young women. I mean, comments like these even hurt a 7’4” grown man who was famous for his stature in the WWE (more on that here). For that reason, we’re here to help teach people that it’s no longer OK to make unwelcome comments about our bodies, while also simultaneously encouraging and empowering women to love their height so that healthy self-esteems are established and all of us can live life to the fullest!
As if it wasn’t glaringly obvious that most of society is unaware of some of the struggles we face as tall women, it was most certainly validated with this woman’s comment on Facebook. Here’s what she said underneath the article: “Haven’t tall women always had a place in the body-positive movement? Aren’t all tall women models?” Obviously, it’s hard to know the tone of someone’s comment when you aren’t hearing it face to face, so there’s a good chance that this wasn’t intended to be malicious or mean-spirited. But it still is the wrong type of message for other people to be reading.
There’s seems to be a huge disconnect between what some people think of tall women and how we actually sometimes feel on the inside. I think it’s fair to say that there are many people that believe that tall women are super confident, because we have such a presence and we have the ability to captivate any room that we walk into. The unfortunate reality is that many tall women are feeling insecure about the presence they carry and wish to walk into the room unnoticed and escape from all of the comments. It is surprising, though, how many women who are not tall are shocked to hear this. Amy wrote a super interesting article about this exact disconnect after having a conversation with her shorter mother-in-law – you can read that article here. It’s these types of assumptions that others make about us that further validate our cause and re-affirm why it’s so important to bring awareness to height in the body-positive movement.
Just as many of us get annoyed by the “Do you play basketball?” question we undoubtedly have all been asked in our lifetime, the comment this woman made irks me for the same reason. Just because we are vertically blessed doesn’t mean that our careers or even our hobbies should be automatically grouped into the common stereotypes that people mistakenly place us in – the most common stereotypes involve many sports and/or modeling. It is totally wonderful if you are involved in these things (we were both volleyball players ourselves), but it doesn’t mean that society should assume this about ALL tall women. In my mind, it would be the same as assuming that all really intelligent people are only going to be doctors, when in fact they can be engineers, CEO’s, authors or even a Starbucks barista. It’s the same as assuming all short women are gymnasts and can, without effort, tumble around like it’s nobody’s business. However, what is interesting is that most people doesn’t actually expect that all short women would make great gymnasts, yet it still seems totally acceptable to assume that all tall women play basketball or have modeling careers that make them extremely confident women.
All I am asking of society is to please not make assumptions about our lives, our experiences and our feelings until you’ve walked a mile in our shoes. Please empathize with the fact that we have insecurities just like everybody else. Get to know us before you pass judgment or assume you know already know everything about us because of our height. And last but not least, understand that we are all unique individuals that bring something different into this world.
Thanks for reading! – Alli