Thursday, November 30, 2023

No sh*!, I know I'm tall

'I’ve been 6-foot-1 since I was 14 years old, and let me tell you, it has been a struggle'

March 12, 2014
Photo by Brandon Hankins | The State News

Yes, I know, I’m tall.

No, I don’t model or play basketball. I played volleyball in high school, but short people can play volleyball too.

How did I get this tall? Well, my dad is six-foot-five, but the real reason is because I accidentally went through Willy Wonka’s stretching machine.

Why am I so tall? So I can stand next to shorter men and emasculate them. I’m kidding, bu t I have actually been accused of this before.

Pretty much every time I go out in public, I get at least one person who asks me about my height.

I’ve been 6-foot-1 since I was 14 years old, and let me tell you, it has been a struggle.

In first grade, I was so tall a substitute teacher allegedly mistook me for a teacher’s assistant - even though I wore bows in my hair and hand-picked-by-mom holiday sweaters.

In sixth grade, a classmate made fun of me for being the tallest person when we had to line up by height for a classroom activity. I cried, but I like to pretend I didn’t.

In nin th grade, I started playing volleyball, despite the fact that I was cut from my middle school’s team for my lack of coordination.

In eleventh grade, I was approached at a school dance and told that I shouldn’t be wearing heels, since I already was so much taller than everyone else.

A lifetime of being reminded of something I hated about myself did nothing for my already-fragile confidence.

I always, always envied the girls who were short and curvy, who could buy clothes from wherever they wanted and dance without looking like a drunk giraffe.

I have at least a thousand pictures with friends in high school where I’m leaning like the tower of Pisa to make myself look smaller. Inevitably, I only succeeded in making myself look more gangly and awkward.

My 37-inch inseam makes it nearly impossible to buy pants that are long enough. Victoria’s Secret’s extra-long yoga pants still are depressingly short on me, so I have to buy pants from a British company called Long Tall Sally...ugh.

I used to get so incredibly annoyed when someone, especially boys, tried to talk to me about my height. Boys, unsurprisingly, were a problem for me until they started to catch up later in high school.

I wouldn’t say I ever got bullied by boys about my height. Looking back, it’s probably because they were afraid of me. But I thought I was a freak for a very long time.

I’ve always tried to fit in. I hated that I couldn’t control my height, and I wanted to be known for my personality and accomplishments, not the genes I was born with.

Instead of being “the tall girl,” I spent middle school and half of high school trying to be “the funny girl,” or “the smart girl,” or even “the girl who knows everything about Harry Potter,” anything, as long as it wasn’t “the tall girl.”

At the end of the day, though, my height is what defines me - no matter how many jokes I crack, what my grades look like or how many times I’ve read through the Harry Potter series (probably at least 20).

I’ve realized that most people aren’t trying to be rude when they ask about my height. They’re genuinely curious and, although I can’t help feel like an exotic animal when I get asked “What’s it like being so tall?” it’s nice to have something people are interested in.

When I came to MSU, the women’s rowing team targeted my long legs and gave me a total of six rowing magnets, trying to recruit me. Pretty much every time I eat in South Pointe at Case Hall, where athletes are traditionally housed, someone comes up to me and asks if I’m an athlete. It’s flattering, but the assumption that tall people are athletic becomes annoying. I can do whatever I want with my height, I don’t need to play basketball to validate my height.

It took me a long time to embrace my height and realize that hey, I’m a giant, but there are giant advantages that come with that. Although I was never the stellar volleyball player in high school that my coach wanted me to be, being on the team boosted my confidence, since so many girls were jealous of my height and pterodactyl arms.

I’ll never have to climb on a counter to reach anything, I’ll never get lost in a crowd and although it might be annoying, my height is a great conversation starter.

There also are a lot of girls who are taller than I am. I thank the Lord every day that I’m not bulky and masculine like Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones. Madison Williams on the MSU women’s basketball team is 6-foot-7, and I wonder how I ever could have complained about my height. I’ve always secretly wanted to be friends with her too, so Madison, if you’re reading this, lets hang out and be tall together.

Accepting my statuesque persona as something I can’t control has made me a lot more confident. If someone talks to me about my height, I don’t get offended or hurt anymore, and being able to laugh at myself has brought me a long way.

To any other tall girls out there who are uncomfortable with their height, I know you’ve heard this a million times, but one day you will appreciate it.

Emily Jenks is a State News reporter. Reach her at


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