Odd Girl Out

This photo always makes me a smile. It’s taken after a Taylor Swift concert, with Lena Dunham awkwardly tagged on to the end of a supermodel scrum. As a six-footer, you might think I relate more to Gigi and Lily (perfect abs and million dollar paycheques aside). But I don’t. I relate to Lena. Because I always feel a bit like the odd one out. I’m a Lena in a short-girl world.

I was hesitant to write this post, as I am conscious of the fact that I am a white, privileged, cis-gendered, able-bodied woman who probably needs to STFU. But normally my blog is all about the positive, and I’d feel like a bit of a fraud if I pretended that everything is 24/7 rainbows and unicorns in my head. And while I love being tall (we’ll save that for the all important, moral-of-the-story conclusion, fear not) there are times when I’m certain my mental health has taken a few knocks for it.

I can’t quite remember when I became aware that I was different. But I certainly don’t ever remember feeling the same as everyone else. In ballet I was a foot above my peers, and from primary school I would ALWAYS know where I stood in a height line-up (‘seeya later girls… I’ll be down there heading up the boys’ division’). Having to squash down into group photos, not being able to swap clothes with friends, wishing I could buy clothes and shoes easily on shopping trips (but still sitting in Tammy for hours while everyone tried stuff on…) is going to make you feel a bit alienated, however amazing your mates are.

When puberty hit and growth-spurts collided with an interest in boys, the imagined space between my friends and I seemed to widen. I wasn’t the ‘fall in love with whoever the f*ck you like’ girl at 13, and was adamant my prospective boyfriend should be taller than me. As such, I felt like I had depressingly few options compared to my friends. I even used to look at celebrities’ heights in Sugar and Bliss magazine and try to work out who was acceptably tall enough to fancy (Bryan from Westlife if anyone is interested. I mean… BRYAN?! Jeez.)

It took me a long time to feel ‘sexy’; I just never felt like that was a word that applied to someone who had felt so gawky and awkward for so long. Sexy was something other people were; petite women in high heels with dinky feet and small features.

Despite having a lot of incredible friends, I’ve often felt a little ‘on-the-outside’. I don’t think I’ve ever visibly been an outsider, and my school/uni friends — many of whom remain my best friends today — certainly never made me feel like this, but I did. I appear on the surface to be a very confident and outgoing person, but — while my skin has grown thicker over the years — most of this has been a bit of a facade. I have simply disguised my insecurities in a different way. I wasn’t the shy ‘loser’ in the playground. I acted overly-confident, the class-clown, the drama queen. And I can think of a few occasions when I let my insecurities and jealousy get the better of me and I acted a bit spitefully.

I feel certain that this sense of ‘otherness’ contributed to the anxiety I’ve felt for a lot of my life, and the eating disorder I experienced in my late teens (I finally felt as ‘light’ and ‘dainty’ as my friends, despite being cold, hungry and beyond miserable).

I no longer feel the great despondency I felt about my body back then, but there are still occasions when I feel a bit conscious of the difference between me and my friends; going out and not hearing half the conversations that they’re having a foot below me at the bar for instance, or always being the odd-one-out in a wedding photo. (First world problems I’ll admit).

The difference now is (here comes the predictable conclusion you were waiting for), that I try to celebrate my uniqueness. I now own my tallness. I exaggerate it with four inch heels and genuinely feel special  because of it. Plus I’ve found you. It’s one of the main reasons why I started a blog and one of the very best things about the evolvement of the tall community online. That sense that you are not alone. Now — thanks to the magic of Instagram and Facebook — we can share in the daily experience of being tall with people who absolutely get it.

As I write, I’m still not sure whether to share this. It seems so indulgent when one of my best friends is awaiting a kidney transplant for her two year-old, and another is in a wheelchair because of Lyme Disease. But it may well resonate with someone; someone who feels like an outsider themselves and hasn’t yet managed to conquer it. I suppose everyone feels a bit left out at one time or another. We’ve all got something, right? The heart-wrenching pain of infertility when all you hear are birth announcements from happy friends. The inability to just get on a damn tube with your mates when you’re stuck in a wheelchair. (And no, I am not in ANY WAY comparing my predicament with these).

I can’t be the only one who has had these feeling before, so please feel free to join in the conversation below. Let’s continue to build each other up, have each other’s backs, and make each other feel wonderfully, weirdly, extraordinarily… normal.

L xx

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24 Responses to Odd Girl Out

  1. I LOVE YOU!! I literally could have written this myself. Keep doing what you’re doing- you’re awesome x

  2. So lovely to hear! Always feel a bit sick before I press ‘publish’ on a more soul-searchy post x

  3. 100% agreed with what you’ve wrote. Even at the age of 31 I still feel abit like the odd one out, being 6ft tall, and having to wear size 14 clothes just for the extra bit of material, always felt like I was larger than my friends aswell. So its really great reading your blog and being able to go “yea theres someone who totally gets it”. And you’re right need to keep supporting all the tall ladies out there xx

  4. I’ve also been the tall one in a group of friends who were 5ft 1 and a size 6 and it’s given me a massive complex. I hated being in photos, I felt as though I didn’t fit in on nights out as I was huge in heels but felt so unfeminine in flats. I’ve just always felt big. I’m 5’11 and a size 12 now (I was much thinner as a teen also due to eating problems to try and feel smaller and part of the norm) which I know isn’t even really tall but I felt huge because it happened that my friends were all so petite. At 31 and having a wider more mixed size circle of friends I am better but I do still feel uncomfortable. I try and pretend it’s wondeful being tall though as my daughter is 6 and the height of an 8 year old and I don’t want her growing up with my insecurities.

  5. I’ve been married for almost 19 years and still check the heights of male celebs I fancy. Gotta love those Skarsgards! 😉

  6. Thank you for the post! My friends were not *that* small (I live in Scandinavia and we are considered to be rather tall over here), but still 1m70 at most to my 1m87. I felt awkward and gawky and the odd one out, that’s for sure and still get comments about my height, even though I now actually feel rather average sized amongst the 20-year-olds (thank GOD for the advancing medicine and taller young people all around me!) But I think what affected me the most was the fact that my mother is really small – 1m60. I had the daily reminder of being different and living in a petite woman’s house who, try as she might, could not understand my plight of breezy ankles and involuntarily bare midriffs. She DID teach me to sew, though, so that helped out immensely! Anyway, I wanted to ask whether any of you had a significantly shorter parent and whether or not that affected you in any way at all? I have two daughters and I would like to think that I can support them a bit better since I am tall myself.

  7. Well, this is brilliant. Thank you for once again, being the voice in my head. I remember sitting in school once, in a biology class on the intricacies of female reproductive hormones, telling my “friends” (they weren’t really my friends, I never fit in with them) that when I was older I’d adopt, because I never wanted to inflict my height and the difficulties that go along with it, upon my daughter. SPOILER ALERT. I have an almost two year-old daughter now, baked in my own oven and made exclusively by the genes of me and my tall husband. She’s a long kid. She’s going to be tall. And I’m going to make sure she grows up knowing how amazing she is for it. Thank you Laura for helping show me how to do this. Xxxxx

  8. allthetallthings

    Hi Kayleigh, thank you! It’s so ludicrous to compare your weight and dress size to someone who is of average height, and yet it’s so easy to do 🙁 xx

  9. allthetallthings

    Hi Steph, yep, I feel such a responsibility as a mother to celebrate my height with my children. I’m glad things are improving for you and I hope you can relish it one day xx (Don’t know why my replies are all so far away from your comments… WordPress never used to do that!) x

  10. allthetallthings

    Stacy — Who are the Skarsgards?! Are they hotter than Bryan from Westlife?! x

  11. allthetallthings

    Maiken — that’s really interesting. I had two reasonably tall parents (though neither as tall as me) Mum- 5’9 and Dad 5’11… people assume my Dad must be 6’6. It was never really something I thought about… though I do love that since I’ve married I have a 6’4 husband and two brother-in-laws who are 6’6 and 6’3! I finally feel like I belong! 🙂 x

  12. allthetallthings

    Emma — this is lovely and echos exactly how I felt. I went from thoughts of adoption to contemplating sperm donation from a short man! Quite glad I just fell in love and did things the easier way! x

  13. Your post is brillant. I absolutely hate my photo being taken as I look so awkward and I tower over everyone else. My two sisters are 5ft5 and 5ft3 so I am the ridicolously tall one in the middle or I bob down to equal a ‘more normal’ height. Absolute worst picture family picture ever taken was when I was 21 and Mum decided to get a professional photo done….literally my worst nightmare. My Dad and Mum were in the middle (my mum is about 5ft6 while dad is 6ft4 so quite a drop in height!) and my two sisters were on the end beside Mum where the height gradually dropped down. I on the other hand was the other side of Dad being near 6ft. I looked like I didn’t belong……I honestly could have cried. And this picture hangs in the dinning room for me to see everyday

    I work in healthcare so I see a lot of people per day and the number of people who feel it’s appropiate to comment on my height always suprises me. I really dislike the comments ‘you’re very tall’ or ‘I prefered it when you sat down (as too tall standing up) etc. Why do they feel the need to comment? I don’t go round saying ‘gosh your small’.

    I really hope this changes for the next generation of tall people as it gets me down.

  14. Completely relate with everything you’ve said. I’m 6ft 2 and 29 years old (have been this height since I was 14 or 15), and still ocassionally have mini melt downs when I can’t find a pair of shoes to fit (I think it’s actually getting harder – either that or I’m finally accepting that my feet are NOT a size 8 and sometimes don’t even fit a 10. Poor feet).

    I wish we could all get together as a community and go on a night out, my greatest wish is to put on a pair of heels! And of course hear what people are saying haha.

    Steph

  15. Thanks Sophie,

    God, I never thought about working in a profession where you are regularly meeting people and how that must grate! Luckily (most) of my colleagues have got it out of their system now!

    I was at the hospital the other day and a woman said to me ‘wow you’re taller than me. And I’m the tallest of everyone that works here…’ as though she was making sure I knew quite how ridiculous my height was! She was like 5’6!

    I suspect social media may go some way in helping the next generation of tall people tell the world that these comments are boring and not on!

    L x

  16. Hi Steph,

    That tall night sounds like an amazing idea. And my new large-size shoe brand launches Spring 2019 so we’ll have plenty of shoes to choose from!

    L xx

  17. Christine Frati

    Actually I don’t agree with this article . I think everyone has something they hate about their body, we just all need to realise what we look like is not who we are. I should know, at the age of 16 inside 12 months I went from the smallest to the tallest in my year (and just about the whole school). Yes the names, the jokes changed but I was still me despite still being at the end of the photo line, albeit it the other end! I can also say the remarks and names for a ‘shorty’ are far crueller and patronising than anything said about my tall self. Most people are admiring of height, even if they have rude ways of expressing it. Nobody ever wanted to be my little self. So girls chin up and enjoy being tall, instead you can worry about the size of your nose, bum…

  18. All the above ! Do feel different and eventually embraced the different ness and it enabled me to dress how I want and be far more creative than if I was ‘ the norm’ I also feel that men who date women taller than themselves are much more confident in themselves

  19. THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing this post Laura! I totally feel you. I also have a blog and often thought about writing something like this. I know how much courage it takes to be honest and admit that not everything in your life is great and perfect because you are tall and slim (as it seems sometimes people’s expectation).
    You’re doing so great with your blog and I really love your honest instaposts about being tall and people’s reactions! And I’m really excited about your shoe brand! Lots of tall hugs for you and keep going!

  20. What a great post Laura! I felt exactly the same growing up. My daughter is 10 now and I see her going through the same but I am doing my best to help her focus on celebrating her uniqueness. Thank goodness for netball and Wonder Woman. Watching England Roses win in the Commonwealth games with her was fantastic and because of it she now has tall idols!
    You definitely need to check out Alexander Skalsgard. Can’t wait for your shoes to arrive.

  21. Hi Christine —

    I completely agree with everything you say. Feel like I covered your point in the post too but apologies if not clear.

    All about celebrating being tall — but also being honest about how I feel/have felt.

    L xx

  22. Yes Zoe — all of your above! #preach xxx

  23. Thank you Larissa… sooooo lovely to hear… can’t tell you how much your encouragement means… starting a business is scary and at times isolating but I am SO EXCITED! Xxx

  24. Oooh Laura — I will do. Yes… that’s a great idea… definitely need to get Tilly and Arf some tall idols 🙂 xx

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