Community: Real Life

The plight of the tall girl

Lucie Walker

Lucie, 22, lives in the West Midlands. She's been working in journalism since she was 17 and hopes to edit a successful music magazine. Her big passion, besides writing, is rock music and she'd kill for a drum kit. She adores art, history and literature and travels the country with friends learning more about them all.

Lucie is perplexed by the stigmas she's encountered just for being tall.

Some people stand out in a crowd. Many of them have no choice in the matter, and looming within this category is The Tall Girl. She is, ironically, belittled. She spends her teen years in ill-fitting clothes and shoes. And as she trawls the high street in vain, passers-by may commit the most heinous of crimes - asking her what the weather is like up there.

I stopped growing when I was 15, having reached a statuesque six foot two. It's baffling to see people register surprise when they ask me for the measurement. They can see how tall I am, so why the numbers matter I can't fathom. "Wow, finding clothes must be difficult," they speculate. I excuse myself for a few moments to give the twitch beneath my right eye time to subside.

I was 16 before I owned a pair of adult women's shoes. During my school career I had subsisted in men's brogues (which I now occasionally return to with a guilty twinge, for reasons of style), but then came the startling discovery of small selection of size 10 ladies' shoes within Brantano. Bliss. By the time this grail of selection had inexplicably diminished to half a shelf behind a pillar, I had discovered that Evans also does size 10 shoes and I cannot possibly fault the service they provide in glamorising my toes.

With a 36" inside leg my saviour for leg wear was always Dorothy Perkins' tall section. There was one in my local shop, much to my relief. Recently, I staggered from this particular branch wounded and offended, on discovering that only the tall section had been removed in favour of 'designer' ranges. I was, and remain deeply insulted by, this sweeping aside of a specialist size. Not being aware of another branch with a tall section, my only refuge is the website, where I'm obliged to pay 4 postage for the privilege of discovering my new jeans don't fit because I wasn't able to try them on.

A few months back I discovered a young lady of six foot five with size 14 feet. As a (tall) freelance journalist, I felt entirely qualified to interview her for a local magazine. However, the parents of this 16-year-old informed me, via the school receptionist, their daughter was no longer speaking to the press as they had misquoted and mocked her. They made her out to be a freak. As a result the publicity that the girl had, until that point, been enjoying, was cut short because a few bad writers tried to make a quick buck on her stature. Hard to believe this would have happened with an especially diminutive person.

"I was 16 before I owned a pair of adult women's shoes. During my school career I had subsisted in men's brogues."

Having had my fair share of loudmouthed short friends, I have often wondered what leads people to believe The Tall Girl will be the pushy, intimidating one. I have known so many short girls of five foot three or less who suffer violently from Napoleon Complex, whilst I have always been friendly, but shy of people and conflict-phobic. To my spluttering disbelief, I recently discovered these attributes, common to so many tall girls, are known as Reverse Napoleon Complex (RNC). We don't even get our own title for our own mental disorder!

And of course, it's the bullying and the consequent emotional doormat status that leads to RNC in the first place. It also led to a stoop in my case, which I thankfully conquered before it ruined my spine for life.

One of the most offensive slights against The Tall Girl was a comment I heard about Uma Thurman, on one of those pointless 'top 100 somethings' TV shows. A male who claimed be a comedian said: "if you can get past the fact that she's six foot tall and has 'man hands', I suppose she's attractive."

I may not be able to alter my height, but I don't have to be happy about the small-mindedness that forms the bizarre stigma surrounding it, or the lack of support there is for the tall girl. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the weather is up here is exactly the same as the weather down there.

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Updated: 14/05/2010

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