Stand tall

“Hi, my name’s Sarah. Yes, I’m 5’11”. No, I don’t play basketball. No, I don’t play volleyball. And no, the weather is not different up here.”

I can’t tell you the number of times I have wanted to use this rehearsed response to the infamous statement “Oh my god. You’re so tall”.

Being a girl who is almost six feet tall is a struggle. It consists of uncomfortable hugs at boob level, awkward dance moves, pants that are never long enough, and dresses that are always too short. Not to mention that it seems as if half of the male population doesn’t meet eye level.

Sure, being tall has some perks. I’m able to see at concerts, take the stairs three at a time, and apparently be recruited onto any basketball or volleyball team of my choosing. But for some reason, my height has always been one of my biggest insecurities.

It was the summer of 2012. Grade 10 was just a few months away and I was beyond excited that I was finally going to be in high school. I was already imagining how I would be the classiest girl to set foot in those hallways. However, during that blissful period of daydreaming, my body decided to sprout six inches and transform itself into a lanky and disproportionate mess.

Suddenly, all my jeans became capris and I was a head taller than the rest of the 14-year-old population. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Literally.

During my first year of high school, my self-esteem tanked. I constantly felt uncomfortable in my own skin and became increasingly insecure. I can vividly remember a time when a boy came up to me at school and said, “You’re really pretty and all but your height throws me off. I find you intimidating”. At the time, I forced out a fake laugh and pretended to brush off his comment. But those words stuck with me.

Looking back at my 14-year-old self in that situation, there are a few things that I would tell her.

  1. Presentation is key.

It is entirely possible to be graceful, elegant, and composed at your height. Even though your limbs seem twice as long as everyone else’s, you can still beautifully present yourself. Being tall and awkward don’t go hand in hand! It all comes down to your perception of yourself. If you constantly see yourself as a clumsy mess, you will become a clumsy mess. But if you take ownership of who you are and learn to love yourself, that sense of self-acceptance will be evident to those around you. Also, throw all of those tall-girl strategies out the window! No more slouching in pictures or leaning up against walls in conversations to appear a “normal height”. Keep your head up, figuratively and literally. Present yourself with a fresh sense of confidence wherever you go.

  1. Believe that your true value goes far beyond your physical appearance.

No matter how cliché this statement may seem, the truth still stands. Your exterior appearance should never dictate the degree in which you love yourself. Who you are beneath the surface is what makes you beautiful. True beauty comes from treating others with kindness and learning to love yourself. Your passions, your relationships, your dreams, all those things are what matter the most. Treasure these things above all.

  1. Do whatever the hell you want.

Wear those heels that you feel awesome in. Dance with that boy, regardless of how tall or short he may be. Prove all the tall-girl stereotypes wrong and don’t let anyone bring you down. Unapologetically make the most out of each moment that comes your way. It’s crazy to be insecure about something that is completely out of your control. Simply thank genetics, move on, and own it.

There are still times when I have a love-hate relationship with my height. But the one thing that I’ve come to realize is that I don’t mind sticking out a little. And to that boy back in high school, thanks for making me to come to terms with who I am. Besides, I can reach all the high cupboards where the best snacks are kept, so who’s the real winner here?