Advice for totem poles

January 28, 2009 - Leave a Response

My work hosted a session last year for women in the office. It was all about dressing well and appropriately for work based on your body type. (Why they never had a similar session for men is a whole separate issue. Based on my observation, the women are dressing a heck of a lot better than the men at the office).   Anyway, the guy running the session described me as a “totem pole”. Not my favourite way to be described… but oh well. His advice wasn’t great – he basically took all the don’ts from the other categories and put them as a do in this category which would make me wind up with some rather… interesting… outfits.

Anyway, I found this link today: http://www.oprah.com/slideshow/style/fashion/200901_omag_height

Looks like Oprah did a special on dressing for women 5’10” or above. There are some cute styles and a few good ideas. Check it out!

Interesting encounters

November 4, 2008 - One Response

I had a busy weekend – birthday lunch with a friend and shopping, halloween, and a semi-formal dinner I mentioned in my last post (I ended up wearing an old black dress, but it all worked out). Top this with the work that I need to do for school and you can imagine that I was kept hopping all weekend long.

Anyway, while I was out and about I had some interesting height-related encounters. The first came in my favourite clothing store in Waterloo. I was trying on some boots (flat black boots) and wandering around the store. The woman working came over to tell me that I was SO TALL, and asked how tall I was. She wanted to know what inseam pants I wear (35 for the record). Then she commented again that I was just SO TALL. She asked me if I ever wear Fidelity Jeans. It just so happens that I had a pair of Fidelity jeans about two years ago when they were still a pretty new brand. The beauty of this brand is how long they are – definitely a good call for a tall girl. I don’t buy them anymore though because they’ve gotten really popular and are now more expensive. But, if you want to check them out visit fidelitydenim.com/fidelity.php. I think they’ll cost you about $150 – $200. So this wasn’t really that bad of an encounter… the next one was worse.

On Saturday night I put on my heels that I mentioned in my Heels vs. Flats post (I wore the embarassingly destroyed pair out on halloween). So I was about 2 inches taller than normal, all dressed up, and out at the dinner. While standing in the hall I had an interesting conversation with a friend:

Him: Are you always that tall or are you wearing heels?
Me: I’m wearing heels.
Him: Well, I’m definitely not going to dance with you.

Awkward! I didn’t even want to dance with him, ESPECIALLY after that comment. I should have said something but of course I didn’t. Darn. Note to self: think of a list of witty tall comebacks for next time. haha. The annoying part was that I was feeling pretty good until that point height-wise. It brought me down for a few minutes, but then I decided just to forget about it. I can’t control his concern over his height, after all.

At least now when people say stuff to me the bright side is I know I can blog about it 🙂

Trip to the mall

October 29, 2008 - Leave a Response

Last night I left my cozy apartment to venture out to the mall. I was looking for pants, a skirt, and a dress… maybe even some shoes. I think we’ve all had those shopping trips where nothing really works and I DEFINITELY had one of those trips. It is particularly frustrating when you are really busy (like me as a student) and you pull yourself away from whatever else you have to do only to come home empty handed. Also, as a person without a completely typical body shopping trips can be even more complicated.

I wear jeans pretty much every day so I thought it would be nice to get some pants that aren’t jeans. Maybe some cords perhaps? Maybe something else? I was disappointed to find, however, that most stores that offered long pants did not seem to realize that tall girls might want to wear pants other than jeans. It’s the worst when the pants look ok… but you know that as soon as you put on shoes of any kind they will turn into floods. I’ve been fooled into that trap before – now I’m too old and wise to fall for it. So needless to say I didn’t find pants at the mall.

Skirts should be easier to find, right? I mean.. I’m not looking for a skirt that covers my ankles so I should be all good. Actually, I was looking for a shorter skirt and that was where I had my challenges. The skirts that looked about the length I wanted on the hanger were RIDICULOUSLY short-looking on me! Serious mini skirts here. But then if i found a longer skirt it was practically knee-length. There was no happy in between skirt for a tall girl like me. I shouldn’t have to change the style I want just because of my few extra inches, should I?

So… I decided to try dresses. I have a semi-formal event this weekend a few dresses at home to wear but really, we all like excuses to buy new dresses, don’t we? I actually normally like shopping for dresses. I find they generally fit tall frames really well. Finding dresses for me is usually a snap! Last night though I found that all the dresses I tried on didn’t fit in the back. I think the length of the torso part of the dress was too short so it was gathering up 3/4 of the way down my back. Not a good look, let me tell you that.  Stores that specialise in clothing for the taller girl generally drops the waist to avoid this problem. Still… I found it worse than usual last night. Maybe I was just already in a bad shopping mood from my lack of pants or a skirt.

Onto shoes and boots. Here I am pleased to report that I found lots of really nice shoes in mid-height or low-height heels. I noticed this particularly with boots which is a change from other years where I have searched high and low for boots without luck. This isn’t to say that tall women should steer clear of heels – quite the opposite – I am trying to embrace heels more. But I do know that a lot of us also like finding stylish shoes that aren’t going to add 3 inches to our height. Due to one issue or another (stock issues etc) I didn’t come home with shoes or boots either.

In a post a few weeks ago I blogged about my shopping tips (https://tallorder.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/tall-girl-goes-shopping-and-avoids-tall-girl/) as well as some online places to shop with great stuff for the taller frame. Two people commented (thank you Jheri and Sandra !) to suggest some additional sites: makeyourownjeans.com and http://www.luxuriouslytall.com

I hope your next trip to the mall is more successful than mine 🙂

Heightism

October 28, 2008 - 2 Responses

It isn’t even really a word according to my Microsoft Word spell check, but I’d like to consider heightism in this post. If you haven’t heard of it here is a definition from Wikipedia: “a form of discrimination based on height. In principle it can refer to unfavourable treatment of either unusually tall or short people” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heightism). Gotta love how they threw in the word unusual, eh? And why just “In principle”? The general idea that this definition suggests is that in many situations short = bad, tall = bad, and regular height = good. But if you read through the entry I think many people actually see it as short = bad, tall = good, regular height = also good. Hmmm… interesting. I’ll come back to this.

I can’t say if I’ve ever been either given an opportunity or been discriminated against based on my height. I know that growing up people often saw me as a few years older than I actually was. Maybe this gave me a leg up in a job interview or something. I really can’t say. I also can’t say how my height will affect my eventual career – if it has any impact at all. How it could have a real impact for a tall person is if that person feels very self conscious due to their height and carries them self nervously or without confidence. I can see that costing someone a job at no fault to the employer. So are we at risk for self-imposed heightism? Can we be so aware of and so negatively-conscious of our height that we end up missing employment opportunities, dates, friends, gatherings, etc. etc. ? I think it is possible and something to think about.

Alright, back to Wikipedia. This entry irritated me over and over and over again. The discussion of the height of Fortune 500 CEOs that I’m sure we’re all familiar with did not mention women at all, only the average American male height. I know female CEOs are few and far between (a whole other issue) but come on! What about tall females? How does being tall impact women at work?

Another gem was this paragraph:

Conversely, studies have shown that women of below average height are more likely to be married and have children than women of above average height. Some reasons which have been suggested for this situation include earlier fertility of shorter women, and that a shorter woman makes her husband feel taller in comparison and therefore more masculine.

I don’t think I even need to comment on this one… aren’t these reasons kind of lame? We’re going back to a caveman argument here. And, while I do appreciate the challenges that come in a relationship where the woman is taller than the man, I hope that we can eventually get away from this idea that for a man to be shorter than a woman is emasculating.

The heightism in the media section was also noticeably missing female examples or discussion.

So overall for me heightism is an interesting concept with really important implications – especially, I began to understand after reading more, for the short person. But what I am curious about is if the tall advantage mentioned over and over applies to both sexes or just to men. I also think my idea of self-imposed heightism might be interesting… the next time you feel yourself slouch think about it (I will too) and maybe we’ll all be standing a bit taller.

Height and weight

October 22, 2008 - Leave a Response

I’ve spent a good hour or so this VERY windy evening reading some quotes from tall women on what is rapidly becoming one of my favourite sites http://www.tallwomen.org/quotes/. I found it really interesting to find other people’s perspectives on height, from the extremely positive (wear heels, embrace your height!) to the very very negative. The quotes are from women of various ages – including teenage girls struggling with being tall. I can definitely remember those days. One issue popped out to me over and over and over in these posts – the relationship between height and weight.

When I was a teenager and growing pretty rapidly I was very thin. So thin that people frequently asked me if I was anorexic or bulimic or if I’d eaten lunch that day. They would comment on how skinny I was (I HATE the word skinny for the record) and generally make me feel pretty bad in usually an unintentional way. It was always strange to me that people felt so free to make those types of comments. It ended up bothering me so much that I went to a dietician to find out how to gain weight. She was surprised – telling me she didn’t have many clients come in with that request. Haha. Anyway, she gave me a list of things to eat that might help me pack on an extra few pounds. I followed her plan and didn’t gain a pound. But of course I kept getting taller. Needless to say I was none too happy with this situation. I was thinking something along the lines of “if I have to be so tall, can’t I at least be a normal weight??”

Now about ten years past this point I’ve been able to gain weight and am comfortable where I am. I no longer have people asking me about eating disorders… though I have had a couple of strange comments about my weight. Generally it happens when someone tells me I’m tall, I say “oh yes, I am” or something and maybe look embarrassed or upset or something because they feel compelled to follow up with “but it’s ok because you are thin!” I always want to ask them to explain that logic. I think the next time someone does I will. And then I’ll write a blog about it.

One of my very wise tall friends had some comments on this:

Those adolescent years were pretty annoying as a tall girl.  However, during that time, any time I would mention my frustration with my height to anyone shorter than me, they would say something like “oh, but you’re so tall like a model!  I wish I was tall.”

BULLSHIT!  Yes, the women on TV and in print ads are tall, but I feel that there’s a whole double-standard when it comes to feminine beauty.  Women in the media are praised for being tall and statuesque, but it doesn’t seem to extend into the everyday.  Just think about the adjectives that come to mind when you think of “femininity”:  words like petite, dainty, delicate…not words like lanky or towering.  To be fair, I don’t think that short women have it so great either – the women that I know that are paid most attention to are average height.

I honestly believe it’s a feminist issue.  There are countless books that have been written on the topic of why men are allowed to be tall, fat and successful but women are really pushing it if they’re either tall or fat.  The idea of being both is like career suicide unless you’re in an industry that is dominated by women. I’ve read a few analyses that chalk it all up to women not being allowed to take up as much space in society as men – literally. Or it could just be as simple as men not liking being made to feel small.

Like I said before, my friend is wise 🙂 She raises an excellent point about height and weight – particularly when combined.

To any tall teenager currently struggling with the same thing I did a decade back, all I can say is you’ll likely get more proportionate once you stop growing. I know that doesn’t help right now, but hopefully it is a little light at the end of the tunnel. And please, don’t waste your money on a dietician.

A few thoughts

October 19, 2008 - Leave a Response

As I mentioned in my first post, I started this blog as a part of a course assignment. I’m taking a course on online life writing and obviously there is no better way to learn about online life writing than giving it a try myself. I brainstormed topics for a week or so before deciding on this topic. I have to say now that I’ve been writing for a few weeks how glad I am that I settled on this topic of being tall. I’ve found it personally rewarding to put together these posts, and I hope that some of my readers find them valuable as well.

It makes me think that the process of writing about something a person dwells on can be a very worthwhile and even therapeutic activity. For me (and I know this might sound strange) but being conscious of being tall runs through my mind a lot. It depends on the activity and the environment – standing vs. sitting, new people vs. old friends – and it isn’t like that is all that runs through my mind, but it definitely does creep in there. I’ve been thinking more lately though with writing this blog and I feel like now that some of these thoughts are out of my head and written down I’m not as conscious of being tall. Or at least, not in a bad way. I think I may even be walking a little taller these days. I’m actually experiencing one of the things we’ve discussed in my course. This thing is scriptotherapy. Basically scriptotherapy is writing to release emotion. (Here’s an interesting article http://www.post-gazette.com/healthscience/19980804hpen5.asp). I don’t want to sound overdramatic – I’ve just noticed that when I really started to think and write about what it is/was that bothered me about being tall I’ve somehow started to embrace it more as well.

Part of this also comes from doing much more reading and looking around at other tall blogs, tall websites, tall resources, articles about height etc. etc. Becoming more informed has exposed me to plenty of new perspectives from women and men both taller and shorter than me. A site that I really like is www.tallwomen.org. This website is literally chock-full of resources for tall women. I can’t get through it all! It also has a very positive message which I dig as well.

Anyway, enough thoughts for tonight. And thanks for reading them.

Dating tall

October 14, 2008 - 2 Responses

I’ve mentioned this topic in a couple earlier posts and it is definitely a hot topic for tall girls – dating. As if dating isn’t difficult enough sometimes, those of us who are above average height have additional challenges. Think about it… on a blind date a tall girl not only has to think about where to go, what to say, what to eat, what to wear… she also has to wonder what if she’s taller. And if she is, how will her date handle it?

I know logically that there is absolutely no reason other than convention that the girl should be shorter than the guy in a heterosexual relationship, but for the purposes of this post I’ll be illogical because I know that many tall girls (and probably short guys) do see this as an issue. Think about relationships where the man is shorter (Tom and Katie, Tom and Nicole (whaha), Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy) and how central the discussion of the height difference is in the media. Clearly tall girls aren’t the only ones taking notice.

People ask me fairly often if I only date guys that are taller than me. I always answer that I don’t do it on purpose, but I am generally interested in taller guys. If I’m scoping out a room I’m looking at my eye level and above, generally not looking below. So I guess the answer would be yes… but not on purpose. My ex-boyfriend was pretty much exactly the same height as me. He would often comment on my height when he would wear very flat Puma shoes and I’d wear regular shoes or even tiny heels. Clearly he was conscious of it as I was as well. Lots of people would ask me who was taller – it actually got pretty annoying.

So that got me thinking… where can a tall girl meet a guy guaranteed to be taller? Well… where does anyone go to locate something difficult to find… the internet! There are a couple of websites that are targeted exclusively to the taller person.

http://www.tallpersonals.com/ Meet people with altitude! (how clever!)

This website describes itself as “an internet website for tall singles looking for love, dating and romance; people who’s common bond is their taller than average height and a personal relationship is their goal. Finding love, dating and romance in real life is enough of a daunting task itself; now throw HEIGHT into the mix and you know what we mean!” Clearly the owners of this site recognize the challenges here. It is interesting how they create an in-group with the reference to “you know what we mean” – this type of writing helps people feel a sense of community with the site (whoops, the English student in me is getting out of control). The site goes on to explain that they “cater solely to that small niche group of singles who would like to look their date square in the eyes and not the top of their heads OR those TALL people admirers! Many are not as fortunate to be able to stand heads above the rest and prefer to date people who do!”

http://tallpeoplenetwork.com/
Looks like a generic dating site (they say they have over 70). They’ve just made a tall version of their other sites. This site has no passion for tall dating. It doesn’t look promising to me.

Anyway, this isn’t really a topic you can come to a conclusion on… just some thoughts for now.

Stupid comments people make

October 12, 2008 - 3 Responses

On Friday I went to my friend’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving. The actual date of Thanksgiving in Canada this year is October 13, but my friend held this one early so people wouldn’t have to miss it because of family dinners etc. later in the weekend. Very smart of her if you ask me! Anyway, about twelve of us were there and cooked up quite a feast – ham, potatoes, salad, green beans, delicious desserts – I was very full by the end. I had to save some room for the other two big dinners I’d knew I’d be having this weekend. One definite bonus about being tall: you can pack on a couple pounds and nobody notices because it has more places to go 🙂

Anyway, one of the dinner guests was quite tall. He’s about 6’6” or 6’7”. When I first met him several years ago we talked about how much we both disliked it when people commented on how tall we were. He gets it more than me so I shouldn’t really complain. But we bonded over dumb things people have said to us over the years. So back to dinner. I was sitting at the table across from this guy and beside my friend’s sister. As we were starting to eat she semi-whispered/semi-spoke “How tall is he Kate? Oh my god, how tall is he? He’s huge!” I was obviously feeling awkward and sure that he could hear so I just said nevermind to her. But she persisted. “Kate he’s so tall – tell me how tall he is.” So finally I had to just tell her in a fairly rude way to stop. I felt a bit bad and she turned away from me for most of the meal which was a little uncomfortable.

After dinner I was thinking about the situation. Should I have just quietly said “he’s six-foot-six” and let her marvel at his height? Should I have been more sly and just steered the conversation in some other direction? Who really knows. I pulled my friend’s sister aside once most of the guests (including my tall friend) had gone home and explained that he really didn’t like people talking about his height and that was why I had told her to drop the subject. She was baffled and told me she figured since he was a guy he’d like being told he was big… or something along those lines… I was sort of phasing out and mentally composing my blog post by that point.

Her response is frustrating in so many ways:

  • lack of sensitivity. Had he been overweight I highly doubt she would have said “How fat is he Kate? Oh my god, how fat? He’s huge!”
  • the assumption that men who are very tall don’t mind being pointed out or pointed at (I know this blog is aimed at tall women but I know men share some of the same issues)
  • a big contradiction – she whispered to ask me his height but then when confronted about it said she thought he’d like the comment. If that is what she thought then why didn’t she ask him herself? To me the semi-whisper shows that she knew he might be uncomfortable with the topic.

This leads to some other thoughts… things people say to a tall person (male or female) that tall people generally don’t like. Here’s my top ten list:

  1. You’re very Amazonian. (directed at women).
  2. Do you play basketball? No? I’m shocked.
  3. Do you play volleyball then?
  4. How big are your feet?
  5. How tall are you exactly? Then you tell them, only to have them tell you that you are likely taller than whatever you just said.
  6. Wow! You’re taller than my dad! (directed at women)
  7. You are SO lucky to be tall.
  8. You’re so BIG!
  9. Do you only date people taller than you?
  10. Woah… you’re like… so tall.

That list isn’t really in a particular order except that #1 is the thing that most tall women I know hate more than ANYTHING.

I created my list without checking any others… but I found a couple online which are also good:

http://www.tallwomen.org/contents/do_nots.htm

Hahaha, I like the one about not hiding behind the tall woman if trouble is brewing. That is definitely NOT a good idea.

http://www.asylum.com/2008/07/11/10-things-you-should-never-say-to-a-tall-woman/

Thanks for reading my rant and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in Canada!

Tall girl goes shopping (and avoids Tall Girl)

October 7, 2008 - 4 Responses

Although I avoided this topic for a few weeks, I thought I’d post about shopping when you are above average height. I’ve definitely worn my share of floods and belly tops unintentionally, and have figured out a few tips and good places to shop that I thought would be worth sharing.

Here’s my first tip – if you are tall you probably have a long torso like me – so when you buy a t-shirt or any shirt for that matter, avoid square shaped shirts. Go for the rectangle! In my experience it is much more flattering. (By rectangle I mean the main part of the shirt without the arms… usually it either resembles of square or a rectangle).

Tip #2 – skirts can look VERY short on a tall girl. It has to do with the amount of leg that is showing of course… more leg makes a skirt look shorter of course. So what I do is hold my arms straight down at my side. If the skirt is longer than the tips of my fingers it passes the test. If not, it is a no go. This works for shorts too.

Tip #3 – don’t even bother trying to find pants in most stores. In my experience the standard length of pants in most places is 32 (WAY too short). If you are lucky the store may carry 34 length. This might work for some, but for me I need a 35 inch length in most pants for them to be long enough. So look for pants that measure the waist separate from the length. For jeans I like Silvers or Mavi. I’ve also made a few pairs of pants work just by letting out the hem – doesn’t work for jeans but can work for dress pants.

Tip #4 – NEVER put your jeans (or anything for that matter) in the dryer! More times than I’d like to admit, I’ve gotten lazy or rushed and thrown a pair of jeans in the dryer. They’ve shrunk in length and then had to go to the Goodwill pile. My tall roommate explains this tip as “always think about the shrink factor”.

Tip #5 – don’t be cheap. The reality is you are going to have to spend a bit more for clothes. Buy fewer items and spend a bit more on each piece.

I’ve also visited a few stores specifically for tall women. I’m always disappointed in Tall Girl (http://www.tallgirlshop.com). I find they don’t have clothes I like and they don’t really fit. So I never bother with Tall Girl.

On the other hand, I LOVE the store Long Legs (http://www.longlegs.ca/). Their stores are located in Mississauga and Toronto Ontario, Canada but you can also shop online. They have great sales and really nice items. I also like the spirit of their company: We believe that it is important to create an atmosphere of acceptance and confidence, where women can embrace their height. (http://www.longlegs.ca/spirit.cfm?pageAction=spirit). My first trip into Long Legs was hilarious. I couldn’t count the number of girls in the fitting rooms trying on pants and coming out of the room shocked that the pants were long enough. We were all laughing. It is also nice to be in a store where everything you see comes in your size.

A shop I found online that looks like it could be promising is www.ocollection.com. Based out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the website looks like it has some nice stuff.

For workout clothing I like buying pants from Lululemon (http://www.lululemon.com/). They make their pants in a very nice long length and also offer free hemming!

Can you tell I like shopping at Canadian companies? J

Nobody can say that shopping for anyone who isn’t average size in any way can be anything other than frustrating at times, but there are certain places and tips that make things a little easier. Hopefully these ideas and suggestions help.

A tall experiment

October 5, 2008 - Leave a Response

Last night I went out to celebrate my friend Julie’s 25th birthday. She asked that I drop her name in my blog post today, so there you go Julie 🙂 I decided to make the night not just a celebration, but also somewhat of an experiment in height. Normally I wear the flattest flats possible – especially when going out with a group of girlfriends who are much shorter than I am. But last night I broke out the heels I mentioned a few posts ago (https://tallorder.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/heels-vs-flats/). Admittedly, women who wear heels all the time probably wouldn’t think mine were all that high – I’d say they are about 1.5-2 inches – but they are the highest heels I own. So with my heels I was around 6 feet tall.

I left the apartment in my heels and got to the party. I arrived and we basically sat around for a few hours having a couple drinks and chatting – no height issues involved here 🙂 When we all got ready to go to the bar I of course got my shoes back on and was VERY consciously aware that I was the tallest person in the room – girls and guys included. We went out into the elevator. Has anyone ever noticed that elevators are the worst places for feeling tall? Something about the confined space and that lots of elevators have mirrors all around them I think. Anyway, at the bar I was no longer the tallest person but was still feeling pretty tall standing with my group. I should say that since I knew I was doing this experiment I was probably a little more aware of being tall than I might normally be. Anyway, here are a few things I noticed:

  • With the loud music I had to actually lean down to hear my friends talk which wasn’t overly great… so 1 point goes to flats.
  • When I was walking around the bar without my friends I didn’t feel like I was being stared at really, in fact I felt just fine. So 1 point goes to heels.
  • In the bathroom a girl told me she liked my shoes – so another point goes to heels.
  • I ran into some old coworkers at the bar (worked with them about 4 years ago) – one commented that I had gotten EVEN TALLER. So I showed him my heels. Problem solved… I guess? I also had to lean down to talk to him. So one more point goes to flats.

I’m not sure what conclusions to make from my little experiment (ending in a 2-2 tie heels vs. flats), other than to say that my concerns with my heels were more to do with logistics (hearing people talk) than actually feeling overly self-conscious (even though I will honestly say that I did feel that way a couple times).

I’ll have to wear them out again sometime soon and see how I feel. You never know… heels might even win next time around!