Monday, 10 April 2017

Being tall

I got used to the problems of being tall (I'm six foot) many years ago, so I don't think twice about all the adjustments I make for a world of much shorter people. There are advantages of being tall, but plenty of disadvantages.

All sorts of things are too low for comfort - kitchen worktops, sinks, wash basins, cashpoints, mirrors. I have to bend over to use them. Hotel beds are often too short, so my legs stick over the end (provided there's no footboard, that is). Baths are too short to stretch my legs out. Train, bus, car, plane and cinema seats seldom have enough leg room. Some doorways are so low I have to stoop (I can't tell you how many times I've bashed my head). Shirts never fit properly - my chest is an average size but my arms are very long.

Being tall can be helpful to the less tall. Jenny often asks me to get something from a shelf she can't reach. Other customers in shops do the same. It's easier for me to hang curtains and change light bulbs.

Other advantages? I can see over high walls or crowds of people. I can run faster and jump over puddles because of my long legs. People are more responsive if they find my height a bit intimidating (not that I want to intimidate, mind you).

But it's easier to be a tall man than a tall woman, I guess. Since many men are tall, it's not too hard finding clothes that fit. But if you're a six-foot woman, it's trickier. Shoes, tights, pants - they're all made for smaller women. Not to mention the dating problem - short men who feel uncomfortable with a tall woman. Or the possibility of intimidating your shorter male workmates.

I wonder what it's like to be five foot six?


Wisewebwoman said...

I WAS tall but I'm age-shrinking. My family were munchkins. For years I hated my height. Then tall boys. Yeah me. But I always admired the tiny delicacy of my mum and 8 blood aunts.

I felt like a giant. But I married a man of 6'5" and yeah tall daughters and granddaughter.


Nick said...

www: That surprises me, you don't look especially tall in your photos. And you must have felt quite short beside your 6'5" husband!

Anonymous said...

I'm quite tall for a woman. 1m72, as a young child I was quite tiny and suddenly grew and grew. I have no problems with my height. My husband is really tall, 1m95 and he has the same problems as you in hotels ,cars and planes. My dad is talk too , but my mother only 1m58.
Mia More

John Gray said...

I always wanted to be 6 foot
Alas it was never to be

Ursula said...

You are tall, are you? Brilliant. Just make sure you don't sit in front of me in the cinema or in front of me during a concert. Please.

Unlike yours my problem is different. Very different. People THINK I am tall. Such is my presence, Nick, there are people - no bull - who are, objectively, taller than me who think that I am taller than them. Even when I am not wearing high heels.

Then there is my mother. My mother, apart from her occasional allusions to my Jewish nose, maintains that I am "ein Sitzriese". There is no easy way to translate this. Best if you imagine that, when I am sitting down, I am tall. Try that for size.

Fun post,

Nick said...

Mia: If 1m72 is 5'8", yes, that's quite tall for a woman. And 1m95 is 6'5", which is very tall for a man.

When I've flown to Australia, I've always booked Premium Economy for the 12-hour stretch, as it gives me more legroom. Twelve hours in Economy would be a nightmare.

Nick said...

John: Well, you do avoid all the problems I've mentioned!

Ursula: I know, in the cinema I often notice people carefully NOT sitting behind me. But not much I can do except sit right on the far side of the auditorium, where my view of the screen would be terrible!

Ein Sitzriese = a sitting giant? You must have a very long torso.

CheerfulMonk said...

At my tallest I was 5'4 1/4" Shorter than that now, of course. Maybe 5'3 1/2"?

Jenny Woolf said...

We have a relation who is 6 ft 10 which does seem to be a bit too much of a good thing. He does not, however, complain, but finds it very inconvenient to stay in hotels etc. as his bed is always too short.

Ursula said...

Jenny, 6 ft 10? I suppose he could curl up into the fetal position when lying down in bed. A bit like Woody Allen - albeit for different reasons.


Bijoux said...

I detested always being the tall girl in my class. I've been about 5' 9" since age 14. I appreciate it now!

Dave Martin said...

At 5' 9" I've been fairly happy not standing out as being remarkably short or tall. I enjoy blending in and not being noticed.
However, there have been times when being somewhat taller would have been useful - especially at concerts.

Mike said...

Back before we met, Karen, 5'8 1/2" tall, was always on the lookout for a tall guy. A volunteer at the USO (United Service Organization) in Milwaukee, she was helping decorate for a dance at the YWCA, hanging crepe paper from a balcony. Spotting a tall sailor in civvies below, she called down to him asking for a cigarette. He tossed the box of smokes -- Marlboros -- up to her but when she tossed them back down, the box came open and the cigarettes all spilled out. When she asked for a light, rather than toss his lighter up, he said he'd bring it up to her.

I found out later that she didn't smoke. Two weeks later, I asked her to marry me and five weeks after that, she did. I was 6'3' tall.

Nick said...

Jean: 5'3½", that's pretty short. You must spend a lot of time peering upwards into people's faces!

Jenny: 6'10", that must be a nightmare. How on earth does he manage in plane seats or hotel beds?

Bijoux: Yes, 5'9" is okay. There are quite a few women taller than that. Funny, you don't look that tall in your photos.

Nick said...

Dave: Tallness is very handy at concerts. Especially if there's no inclined seating.

Mike: So asking for a cigarette was just a chat-up line? An effective one, obviously!

joared said...

My mother in the early 1900s was a young woman 5'9" which she said was considered very tall for a woman -- certainly aware of being the tallest woman in her class. I see many tall women now, even know of clubs for 6 footers and up, so does not seem unusual to me. Do recall a tall gal in college who dated, later wed, a guy called, "Shorty" 'cause he was short, so they were quite a contrast with one another. I always felt tall because so many of my classmate girlfriends were petite much shorter girls, but I was only 5'6". Interesting the perceptions we can have based on those around us.

Nick said...

Joared: Interesting that you felt 5'6" was tall because all the other girls were so short! As you say, there are loads of tall women nowadays.

tammy j said...

I was 5'2" eyes of blue all my life until a few years ago.
now like monk... I seem to be shrinking.
i'm 5'1"
I certainly hope I don't KEEP shrinking!
I have been one of those who put your kind of tallness to good use in the supermarket.
why they put things up so high is beyond me! LOL
and my bob crowded 6 foot.
he always said we were a good fit!
it can be cheaper to buy clothes and shoes though. I can wear a little boy's sneakers. and I sometimes do.

Nick said...

Tammy: I know, why do shops have shelves that are so high as to be inaccessible to anyone who's short?

It must be very handy to fit into child-size clothing!

Rummuser said...

I am tall enough to be looked up to! I had a boss who was very sensitive to his height and would not get up from his specially made chair to greet tall visitors which included me. His table and furniture were all made to give him an eye level advantage which using normal furniture would not have allowed him.

I also know of one couple who are still much the butt of jokes because of the disparity in their heights. The husband towers over his short wife and the jokes are usually based on asking where the stool is!

There is a bias towards tall people in selection processes where all other things being equal, taller people get selected.

Nick said...

Ramana: Fancy ordering special small-size furniture to make himself look bigger than he was! He must have had serious self-esteem problems to go to such lengths.

Yes, I've read several times that taller job applicants tend to be favoured over shorter ones. Which should have benefited me, though not being privy to the decision process I wouldn't know if it did!

Secret Agent Woman said...

I'm just shy of 5'4" and have always loved my height. But I'm sure I wouldn't like it if I were a man. My first husband was 6'1" and my boys are both about 6 feet. I'm glad for them that they are taller. Most of the men I've dated range from 5'10" to 6'2".

But here's an interesting thing - my older son told me that he felt short in Alaska where he says most men are WAY over six feet tall.

Nick said...

Agent: They say very short men usually have hang-ups about their height and try to compensate by being pushy and dominating. Can't say I've seen much evidence of that myself.

I wonder why Alaskan men are so tall? Maybe they were just fed very well as kids?

Liz Hinds said...

I'm 5'4" or possibly 5" depending on what I want my 'perfect weight' to be, and I have to stand on tip toe to get a good whisk at something in a bowl on my worktop. And I hate it when tall men go to the theatre. There should be a ban or a row at the back just for them.

Nick said...

Liz: Unfortunately if I sat in the back row of the theatre I wouldn't see much of the action from that distance. But I guess sitting on the side of the auditorium would be okay.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Alaska has a heavy Nordic contingent and those countries grow their men tall.

Nick said...

Agent: Is that right? It looks like I'd feel completely at home among all those giants!