Sophie Dahl, Penny Lancaster, Carla Bruni and, until recently, Katie Holmes... What do I have in common with all these women? It’s not millions of dollars and flawless skin, that’s for sure.
Like them, I’m taller than my other half. Admittedly there’s about an inch in it, but that makes a world of difference when you’ve eaten too much pasta and feel like a hippo (or a small house, as was the case with the ex I towered over by three inches).
Of course, you can’t help who you fall for, as evidenced by Sophie et al. No doubt she could have her pick of Hollywood hunks, but she’s found love and happiness in the relatively miniature Jamie Cullum. Good for her.
And good for me, too. I HEART my fella like, *this* much. Love is, well, lovely, regardless of the shape, size, colour or orientation of those involved. HOWEVER. My loved-up smuntiness does not stop me looking at shorter girls with a kind of envy.
Envy that next to their blokes they’re always going to look cute and comparatively slender. Envy that they can have their pick of skyscraper heels. Envy that in the event of a housefire they can be easily slung over a shoulder and carried to safety. Meanwhile, my dumpy calves are consigned to flat shoes and whether I make it out of that housefire depends on whether my boyfriend is able to shove me out of a window or not.
I am a fairly unexceptional 5ft 8”, not even considered tall by industry standards, which uses 5ft 10” as a typical benchmark for clothes ranges for the leggier lady, so I realise that my plight is not as extreme as others’.
Nonetheless, when I’m next to my bloke, it’s an insecurity that occasionally scratches at the corners of my consciousness. As little girls we’re constantly told ‘tall and handsome’ is the aspiration in choosing a male partner. When playing make-believe games, the tallest is always ‘the boy’. Ken dolls are always taller than Barbie dolls.
And think of every Disney movie ever – none of the princes ever had to stand on tip-toes to kiss their princesses, did they? Men are taller than women. That’s the message that’s been drummed into us and along with it, I suppose, an ideal of femininity – of feeling womanly and desirable.
All women want to be wanted by their bloke, so when I sometimes feel cumbersome and clunky next to my boyfriend, I worry I’m not subscribing to that feminine aesthetic and therefore not attractive enough. As such, it’s not unusual for me to literally push him up escalators just so I can stand on the step below him. “What are you doing?” he asks, bemused. “Nothing. Shut up. Just stand there.” And then I flutter my eyelashes up at him and try to look cute and no doubt he thinks I’m having a breakdown.
Or at parties, I find myself standing in bizarre, hip-thrusty poses in an attempt to shorten myself. “You alright there, Rachel?” people ask, concerned that I’ve dislocated something. “Uh, yeah?” I reply. “This is how I always stand? God.”
Granted, in the same way that some women use lipliner outside of their lips to give the illusion of fuller lips, I concede that I’m probably deluded in the effectiveness of these moves, but they do help to quell the occasional twinges of insecurity that I’m EVER SO MASSIVE.
[A friend of mine is taller than her husband, which didn't bother her particularly, until they were walking past a pub and a guy actually ran out to say to her husband 'mate, she's too tall for you,' at which point her husband turned to her and hissed 'BFG' before stomping off. ]
Of course, I’m pretty sure Himself is almost oblivious to my height, and on the few occasions that I do wear heels when we’re together he’s more likely to give me a compliment than bark ‘GOD YOU’RE A GIANT’. In fact, when asked if the height difference bothered him, he simply furrowed his brow and replied ‘Eh?’ He simply doesn’t give a toss.
He makes me breakfast when I’m hungover, I don’t complain when he plays RISK on his phone instead of watching Don’t Tell the Bride. We got a good thing going on – height has nothing to do with it.
So the beef rests with me; I self-impose flat shoes and shit posture. Perhaps because of the institution described above, perhaps because walking in high heels is just too much hassle anyway.
I’m happy with my boyfriend, and let’s be honest, comfortable footwear is hardly a high price to pay for that, is it?
My ex was a good 6ft 1”, which only meant that I felt talked down to during the emotionally-crippling arguments we had on an unrelenting basis. He was tall, and he was a jerk. Give me a shorter fella and overall happiness any day of the week, thanks.
Still, if I did wake up tomorrow an inch shorter, it wouldn't be the end of the world.