Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Issues: Growing up…and up

I love my height, but I haven’t always. I’m sure all of you were in a similar position in elementary and middle school—back row center in every class photo, to be exact—because you were also the tallest ones there. I look back at those pictures and laugh a la awkwardfamilyphotos, but at the time it was pretty mortifying to tower over my classmates and many of my teachers—even the men.


I’m horrified that this still exists.

As an adult, being tall has advantages; numerous studies suggest that tall people earn higher salaries than short people, and one University of Pennsylvania study even claims that adults who were tall as adolescents (regardless of whether they ended up that way) have higher senses of self-worth and therefore higher earnings than those who were short in adolescence.

The flaw in this reasoning—especially for women—is that being unusually tall as a child and teen can mean being singled out, which can have negative mental and physical side effects, including low self-esteem and poor posture. By age 13 I had reached my full 6-feet, and I wasn’t fooling anyone. My parents told me time and time again to stand up straight and be proud of my height, but I knew other tall kids who hunched over and were extremely self-conscious.

At 23, I’ve left almost all of these negative feelings about my height behind me, but when I see tall young girls I want to tell them (with a slap if necessary) to be proud of who they are and how they’re made.

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