When I was a freshman in college, just a couple of weeks into the fall semester, my roommate Tina and I were approached by some members of the women’s crew team asking us if I wanted to come to an informational meeting. Being new on campus and still trying to figure out where we fit in, we went to the meeting. When we walked in we saw a room full of women as tall as we were. I’m 6 feet and Tina slightly taller. It was refreshing to be around all these tall women.
My whole life I have been tall. I was always one of the tallest in my class. I’ve been 6 feet tall since I was 14 years old. Most of the boys didn’t start to catch up until well into high school. And by then I felt all kinds of awkward.
I think I would have been a good athlete, but sports for girls in the 1970s and early 1980s wasn’t what it is today. I always liked sports – volleyball, basketball, softball – but I never played beyond gym at school. I’ve always been self-conscious about my height, especially around other women. The average height for an American woman is 5’ 4”. I’m even taller than most American men who are 5’10”.
So, I’m not really surprised when the crew team approached me in college. Looking back, I wish I would have joined the team. Tina did. But way back then, the thought of getting up at 5:30 a.m. to run was not something I could even fathom.
Dating was always difficult for me in high school and college. I could never see myself with a guy shorter than me. Again, it’s probably because I wasn’t comfortable with my height – I didn’t own it when I was younger. And most tall guys I knew always seemed interested in the girls a foot shorter than them. I kept looking for ways to meet guys taller than me. I found – back in the days before the internet – Tall Club International and went to some of their meetings – they would be called meetups now. Women had to be taller than 5’10” and men taller than 6’2” to join. I had fun, but all the men at those meetings were much older than me. I stopped going after a few months.
I then met my husband, Joe. He’s 6’2”, and we started dating. I didn’t fall in love with him because he is tall, but, I have to say, I only went on a first date with him because he was. I’ve heard it said that if you want tall kids, guys should marry a tall woman. Joe and I have two very tall kids. My oldest son is 14, and he is taller than both Joe and me. Michael is almost 6’3”, with no signs of stopping.
Michael plays basketball and, no surprise, plays center. He plays in many AAU tournaments each year, and I clearly remember the first one I went to. Inside a convention center were 30 basketball courts, with hundreds of people milling around. Almost every adult person was my height or taller, including the moms. I felt like I belonged, like I had found my tribe.
As I’ve aged, I have gotten comfortable with my height. It’s still nearly impossible to find shoes, although Nordstrom Rack has a good selection in size 11-12. Pants are hard to find, but there are some online stores that specialize in tall women’s clothing. I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable on an airplane. But being tall does have advantages. I can reach the top shelf in my kitchen. I can see over the crowd at a concert. I’ve never had to kneel or sit on the ground in a group picture.
So here I am approaching 50 and I love being tall. Someday soon, I will be the shortest in my family because my youngest is catching up fast. I’ve never been the shortest anywhere. That will feel strange. Even though I sometimes still have awkward moments and get self-conscious, I get over it pretty quickly. My friends like me. My guess is that they look up to me. And if anyone needs something from the top shelf in their kitchen, I’m there for you.