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Tall reflections 4 June 2009

Posted by uggclogs in Height, Life, Philosophy.
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Something I read last Friday struck a personal chord with me.  In a recent edition of VOGUE (made somewhat less recent by its travels across the world from the printers in America to the casual reading stand in a small hairdressing shop in Hanoi) a young woman was musing on her life as a tall person.  At 6 foot 3, there were both similarities in our experiences growing up (never finding a cocktail dress, shoes or a dancing partner) and significant differences (having a mother who was highly uncomfortable with her own height, and seriously considering estrogen treatment to stunt her growth).

She also recalled something her mother had told her when she was younger; you can be whatever you want to be.  Something a lot of parents find themselves saying to their children.  However, her musings over this was what now merits this blog entry (and I paraphrase due to my significant lack of photographic memory):

For a tall person, there is one thing you never can be, and that is unseen.

Unseen.  The word struck something in me.  I never really stopped to think about this before.  I have personally never (at least not since after puberty had finished raging) really wanted to be unseen.  That is, unseen in terms of being Invisible.  Miss Cellophane, so to speak.  Why would anyone want to be unseen?  Wouldn’t being unseen make you insignificant?  Unnecessary?  Unremarkable?  A nobody?

And of course I have sometimes wished to be less visible (in the sense of not being the tallest person around), less talked about, and I certainly have never sought out publicity in the sense of getting up to speak or theatre.  But all of that is perfectly different from being unseen.

There have been moments where I have lamented the extra inches, but I have come to terms with being tall.  In fact, I rather like it. 

Even objectively speaking, when push comes to shove, being taller than average can be of benefit (figuratively and literally).  Apart from the obvious advantages when playing certain sports such as basketball, netball and volleyball (if one is lucky enough to be able to coordinate the long limbs), there are more obscure benefits, as well.

In a recent research paper, Andrew Leigh, an economic professor at the Australian National University, found that people that are taller earn more.  Unfortunately, this ‘income premium’ is more pronounced for tall men than for tall women.

How random. 

So do not aim for being unseen, but revel in the premiums your height may bring your way.

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