As part of the Growing Up Tall blog series on The Height of Style blog, our owner Helen shares her thoughts and inspirations on growing up as a 6’4″ teen:
Growing up as a tall teen, in a world of average height, is a profound challenge in many ways. It is a visible mark of difference, something that sets you apart.
On a daily basis, you’re accustomed to the incessant remarks of “WOW YOU’RE SOOO TALL!” from complete strangers, store clerks, and even family members whom you haven’t seen for a while.
This mark of difference can often make you feel uncomfortable, like you stick out like a sore thumb, something “other” than normal.
I am by far the tallest person in my family. My mom, who stands at 5’3″, always told me “Be proud of your height and stand tall! Shoulders back!” But that was hard to do when I would hear people comment things like “Sasquatch” and “freakishly tall” under their breath as I walked by.
It was hard to stomach seeing myself in family photos where I was a head and shoulders above everyone else, dwarfing those around me, and in clothes that fit me as if bought from the kids’ section.
In my reality, as a 6’4″ teen, I desperately wanted to feel like I was “normal.”
But I didn’t. Because I am not. I, like each of you in your own ways, am above average.
I am above average not only in my stature, but in many other ways, which took me until my college years to realize.
I never had tall female friends growing up, so I never knew that the frustrations I felt were shared by others like me. I never realized that there were others facing the same difficulties.
Little did I know that during college at Georgetown University, I would find a group of tall friends that would help me both love and embrace my height. This came from the realization that I am in fact not the tallest girl in the world, and othertall girls all have their own struggles: with their bodies, with their height, with finding clothes, with finding boys to date, and with with accepting themselves as the beautiful and unique individuals that we all are.
Being tall has lead me down a very positive and fulfilling career path. And no, to the chagrin of every stranger that asks me every day, I in fact do not play professional sports.
Each time I hear “oh you SHOULD play basketball, don’t waste your height!” I grit my teeth in frustration, because I am not wasting my height, I am embracing it. Not in the way that others expect, but in the way that I have chosen.
Out of my shopping struggles as a well over six-footer, I created a business catering to tall women’s clothing called Talltique. My dream is not only to make tall women look, and feel, beautiful in their clothes. It is also to change how tall teens and women feel about their bodies, through allowing them to look fabulous in perfectly proportioned clothes.
Like so many other tall women, I grew up struggling to accept my body and my height. This discomfort came from the blatant stares of strangers, which was compounded by the fear that the ill-fitting and short clothes I wore only drew further negative attention.
The thought constantly ran through my head that “My clothes never fit me. I never look good. I am ugly.” However, I am not ugly. The clothes into which I was trying to fit simply made me feel ugly, because they failed to complement or fit my lanky frame.
Growing up tall, and being deemed “different”, was a challenge that has turned into a blessing. Even though we may face obnoxious tall-related questions and comments every day of our lives, I have learned that my differences are actually an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
Being tall brings laughter to my life every day. Laughter at all of the ridiculous comments at which I simply smile or roll my eyes. Laughter at the misconceptions that “average” people have of tall women. Laughter (and some knee pain) at trying to squeeze into the back seats of cars, airplanes, and other forms of transportation. Laughter at my legs being too long to fit under many tables. Laughter at the ridiculous notion that growing up I wished I were “average”.
To every tall teen out there: You are different. You are tall. You may not feel you fit in now, but in time you will come to know that as a gift.
As my small contribution to tall women everywhere, you can find fabulous, long and flattering clothing at Talltique. Perhaps one day we can meet and share a laugh over our deepest insecurities that have become our greatest strengths.
Never forget: you are beautiful.
Cheers to you, your height, and all of the joys it will bring you!