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The Bare Project

Unpacking Height And Desirability

Madam, we no get her size o!

Ha! Why small girl like dis go get dis kin big leg?

It’s a new secondary school session and my mother and I usually go shopping for school supplies in Aleshinloye market. The shopping was always hassle-free till it was time to get shoes, I don’t remember finding my correct shoe size. The shoe sellers always complained rather loudly about how my feet were too big for my age. I had to settle for ugly masculine shoes sometimes, other times I’ll be adamant about squeezing my feet in the shoes, anything to prove I wasn’t the problem and I could fit in too. My self-esteem took a hit when I saw my other classmates rocking pretty shoes that fit them perfectly.

For the sake of this article, let’s assume that tall girls start from 5’7 and above. My take is that as the number increases, the societal acceptance of tall girls reduces, societal acceptance is inversely proportional to height. It is obvious that the society standard of women to be accepted if they are smaller is rooted in paedophilia, it’s the reason that women aren’t allowed to age, this explains the outrage when female celebrities visibly age, it’s almost as if it isn’t natural for women to age. It explains the millions of skincare brands that highlight anti-ageing products. Chances are if you go to a drugstore for skin care products, you’ll see more products for women and in one tiny part of the aisle you’ll see a 5-in-1 body wash for men and this is because men are allowed to age. 

Men are allowed to do anything.

Men are allowed to be tall and I’ll explain, look at men’s shoes, I have seen the men’s shoe sizes reaching up to 50 but the highest I have ever seen for women is 42/43, it’s as if women that have bigger legs should cut it off or opt for men’s shoes for comfort. I am a 5’10 woman with big feet but I can count how many times I have found feminine shoes my size. Most times, I squeeze my feet into the smallest size available and when it expands, it’s more convenient for me or I simply just opt for sneakers for comfort(not by choice).

Mainstream media has also pushed the narrative that relationships are more ideal when the man is taller than the woman. So being tall or too tall can be seen as a masculine trait. By saying being tall or too tall, I mean that the taller a woman is, the less desirable she is to men in heterosexual relationships. 

In the Tall Girl movie, a teenager is manoeuvring crushes with a guy she’s taller than and although I understand that’s the storyline of the movie, I wonder if there would be more movies that portray a tall woman and an average or short man being in love without making being tall the storyline. Brienne of Tarth in the Game of Thrones franchise who is 6’3  was barely portrayed as desirable and the only man to desire her was creepy in his advances.

Basing your self-perception on social acceptance is vanity but it is easier to love yourself when mainstream media constantly affirms you. 

For example, the bodies of women have always been known to go in and out of trend. Presently, hourglass figures are trendy so it’s just easier to love yourself when the whole of social media is praising your natural body type. Corsets have come back in vogue because of this trend and even fitness tips now do more lower body because of this hourglass trend.

Insecurity about being tall could mean slouching on purpose when you enter a room because you don’t want to be noticed, it could also look like lying about your shoe size because saying your shoe size will attract concerned “ahs and ohs” as if it’s a terrible thing. Insecurity could also look like lying about your height. I remember my friend telling me she was 5’8 when she was way taller than me, like girl please, you’re over 6 ft, stop playing, but I get it really.

 Insecurity could also look like avoiding heels not because they’re uncomfortable and you don’t like them but because you don’t wanna be the first person to be seen in the room. Insecurity is forcing yourself into smaller shoes because you know you can’t find your size. Sometimes, insecurity is google searching height reduction surgeries but apparently height, as opposed to weight, isn’t reversible.

My aunt was asking me recently if men are running away from me because I’m tall, it was just a passing question because I was about to ask her if I should cut off my legs so men can accept me. Older Nigerian women love men too much. 

Tall women are desirable in the modelling industry for sure but it’s not every 6ft lady that wants to be a model or even be a basketball player. Tall women can also be desirable as regards birthing children because people want tall and agile children but do all tall women want to give birth? Besides, genetics plays a huge role in these things, who knows if the child would inherit the short genes of their ancestors.

I guess I’m just a 5’10 stallion standing in front of the world typing these words on my laptop in a dark room telling you all about my struggles with being tall while silently hoping that you can understand and extend some grace to other stallions like me.

Chidera is a creative writer and a video creator whose core purpose of her content is feminism and women’s representation. She is currently in her final year at the University of Lagos and is actively laying a foundation for a Marketing/Media career. In her free time, she finds joy in reading African fiction and binge-watching crime and thriller series.

You can find her other written works here

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3 Comments

  • I absolutely loved reading this. Thank you so much.

    Being a short skinny girl with “huge” boobs, i feel like I’ve gone through every insecure phase, from wearing bigger clothes to hide them, to wearing smaller uncomfortable bras just cause I didn’t want to accept the fact that my boobs were and are still getting bigger, even to slouching due to over self-consciousness. Well, I’ve finally come to terms with who I am and am loving every bit of my body including my also slightly big feet 🤭

    In essence, accepting one’s body type not because of trends or other people’s points of view, but truly accepting the way you are inward and outward, is key to living a truly happy and free life.

    So thank you once again for this beautiful piece. God bless 🙏🏽

    Reply
    • hello Uvy, thank you for your comment and I am so glad that you’ve come to realize that you’re beautiful regardless of what anyone says I hope you continue to love your body, because you deserve nothing less

      Reply

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