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Flip the tall women stereotyping: it's not me, it's them

Embarking on a journey of self-reflection often unearths unexpected treasures of wisdom and resilience. Recently, I was prompted with a question that resonated deeply within me: "What would you tell your younger self about being tall?" As the lid was lifted on this can of worms introspection, emotions swirled within me. With my attentive daughter, Miss G, by my side, I felt a surge of determination to respond with positivity and empowerment. Her recent encounter with hurtful remarks about her 'freakishly tall' height ignited a fire within me to offer guidance rooted in strength and self-assurance.

For a full back story on how I came to be so passionate about advocating for tall women and our clothing options, check out Chapter One - Diaries of a tall woman wanting (beautiful) pants that fit.

In a world where societal expectations often clash with individuality, it's easy to feel shadowed by the opinions of others; society wants to hear 'love yourself... embrace your height...ignore, them...'. However, from experience, such sentiments can be difficult to embrace given all the other random declarations we encounter, daily.

You make me feel small

Hey Lurch!

Why are you wearing heels?

You're so tall

Wow, you're a giant

You are tall, aren't you?

Do you like being so tall?

What did your parents feed you?

My mistake, I thought you were a man

You're all legs, aren't you?

Is your husband taller than you?

You're rather intimidating

Did they pop manure in your boots, darl?

You don't play sport X,Y or Z, what a waste

You certainly fill the space

Being different to the majority makes it difficult to argue against repeated unsolicited comments, especially considering our belief system is a giant evidence-seeking tool designed to help us quickly navigate the world via the path of least resistance.

And this evidence gift-giving starts early in life, too.

Motivationalquote for Tall Women' Its not you it's them
source: Instagram

Yet, amidst the noise, there lies a beacon of truth: It's not you, it's them.

Motivation Motivation quote for Tall Women' Its not you it's themquote for Tall Women' Its not you it's them
source: FaceBook

You're not intimidating; they are intimidated. Your height doesn't define you, and you certainly are not responsible for how others feel about their height. It's crucial to understand your height is subjective to those around you at that point in time, the reaction of others is a reflection of their internal struggles; and some people like to highlight their internal struggles - often referred to as tall poppy syndrome, how ironic, right?

I'm jealous/feel less than/uncomfortable that I'm short, so I'm going to twist it around, disassociate, and publicly call out that it's you who's the issue.

"They're just jealous" is as close to the truth as it gets.

You won't hear another publicly compare their glossy mane to that of another with alopecia while browsing the new release section of the bookstore or newsstand.

You haven't heard another compare someone born with dwarfism to their height as they stand in line at the grocer four bodies ahead in line, have you?

We don't comment on another's weight when they appear heavier than ourselves when introduced, do we? No, internally some may gloat or offer self-applause on their own healthy physique, or unconsciously sigh with compassion, but never, 'Hi I'm Penni, you are fat/short, aren't you play mini golf, shop in the kids section?'

Your ability to laugh at your own expense conveys a healthy self-esteem, however, what's being highlighted when another randomly calls out your height are their insecurities, and self-image dissatisfaction, and this dissatisfaction is a way of disassociating and then projecting that dissatisfaction at your expense.

This projection of insecurities is possibly obtained from the societal norms' way of thinking that bigger is better - many world leaders (the last three US presidents are over 6'), sports stars, and actors - Hello, 190cm Chris Hemsworth.. are often taller than most and celebrated, society generally displays and wants our men tall, but not the women. We are 'supposed' to be shorter than the audience.

Projection is a defence mechanism by which an individual unconsciously attributes their behaviours, emotions, impulses, undesirable characteristics, and thoughts to others. Thich Nhat Hanh sums it up perfectly - There are wars within us, it will not be long before we are at war with others, even those we love..

There are wars within us, it will not be long before we are at war with others, even those we love..

Thich Nhat Hanh

Now armed with this understanding of projection and a life of 'I wish I had said', here's what I would tell my younger self - it's not you, it's them.

Tall girls, I hope you can see my point - it's not you, others are merely projecting their insecurities.

Need some proof to nurture your change of belief system? Go and spend time with another tall lady or even join our Tall Australian Women group, I'm confident you won't be asked a bunch of audacious questions - except for shoes, where did you find those great shoes/pants/ski gear etc?

I wish I had curls or some attempt at a wave in my main, but no, mouse brown and straight is my dissatisfaction, my undesirable characteristic... Do I run up to a lass and touch her hair curls, ask if she ate her crusts or if they are natural? No, I go about my day and buy the latest wave-making kit...

Tall Woman Penni Lamprey with hair curlers in her hair
Heated rollers the latest attempt for waves

This switch of responsibility back to the owner is powerful, and the point of this diary entry...

What would you tell your younger self about being tall?

It's not you, it's them

To reinforce this message, I'd equip my younger self with a toolbox of responses, some requiring more bravery than others - twice I have responded with 'or maybe you're just short' ... the room was silent for a bit as the audacity of my reply was absorbed.

Yes, audacity. How dare I publicly reply with my very own 'just joking' tip - maybe bend down a little and whisper that line in their ear...

However, navigating these situations with grace and empathy is essential, being the bigger person, they say... responding with compassion, even when faced with ignorance, reflects strength and character, tall or not.

Motivation quote for Tall Women' Its not you it's them
Source: Instagram

Certain individuals struggle with distinguishing between appropriate and invasive topics, and some enjoy the discomfort caused by asking insulting or overly personal questions.

Here, you're encouraged to choose your reaction based on the perceived intentions of the other person—ranging from silence or a simple shrug to more direct responses like:

Why is that question necessary?

What's the purpose of knowing that?

I'm sorry, what was the question?

Can you repeat that?

My shoes? I like them, why did you choose your shoes?

Yes, I am fully aware of my height

Thank you, I did know that

Compared to you, yes I am - but not to my 6'6 son.

Are you asking or telling me?

Be careful though, another norm is coming...

A response such as - 'maybe you're just short' takes bravado mixed with exhaustion...after a while, it can be exhausting, so we bend the knee -' Yes, I know I'm tall, I'm sorry I make you feel short'. Here we go again, being societally normal, offering compassion - a tall woman offering compassion when we offend another with such a reply - we apologise, as we have not been invited to return their fears and emotions for self-exploration.

Remember, you're not responsible for how others feel. It's not you, it's them.

Image of Penni Lamprey Founder + Designer of Miss G & Me

Miss G and Me is the only Australian-made tall women’s clothing label, which reflects a passion for beautiful and sustainable fashion that fits tall women and lasts beyond a few washes. This article was written by the founder + designer, 6'1 Penni Lamprey who has a passionate focus on 'well' and 'being' and how clothes that fit positively contribute to an individual's self-esteem - the heart of the label's values.

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