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Foot in Mouth Disease 4 September 2010

Posted by uggclogs in Height, Travelling.
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I sometimes forget that not everyone has a mental block, and some people just speak before they think. This is probably the weirdest, yet one of the funniest conversations I have had about my height.

Standing in line at the airport in Sydney, waiting to board my flight, I hear a female voice behind me go;

“You two would have really tall children!”

Choosing to ignore the comment, seeing that this is the last leg of a rather long journey, I smell and I am tired, so in no mood to engage, smile and nod, I don’t even turn around. Some days it’s just not on.

She awkwardly adds;

“Unless you are related!?”

This one being new, we both turn around and start laughing. The person the lady is with is cracking up, and sort of apologetically shakes his head. We laugh, and turn forward again. She, however is on a roll;

“Are you related?”

We laugh some more, and tell her no.

“So you would have tall babies! … Not that you have to have babies or anything…”

Laughingly, we go through to our seats, incredulous. Yet as she walks past to go to her seat, she yet again talks to us, saying;

“Sorry, I wasn’t trying to be rude, I just meant that you were both tall and if you were to have children, they would also be…”

At which stage the guy she was with, still laughing, coaxed her onwards down the aisle away from us.

I’ve never met anyone quite that insistent on telling me I am tall before.

Surprising cat-call 17 May 2010

Posted by uggclogs in Height, Vietnam.
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I recently told a friend of mine that I had had the pleasure of being cat called while back in the UK in March. And I say that completely without sarcasm, it was in fact a pleasure, because it never happens to me.

You see, being a 1m88 (6’2) tall woman in a country where the average height for women is 1m53 (5’0) and for men is 1m65 (5’5), and being told daily that I am so fat, I am not exactly the measurements that most men find attractive in Vietnam. Luckily, I am here with the most wonderful partner, so I am not in the market for male attention.

But imagine my surprise this Saturday.

I was walking along a main street in the French Quarter trying to hail a taxi, after having had a few drinks after the big performance at the Opera House.

I was probably looking quite dainty in my full length evening gown, which I was hitching up to prevent it from dragging along the dusty streets of Hanoi. It is elegant with a rather plunging neck line.

A truck driver passing by startis honking his horn, but if you’ve ever been to Hanoi, the sound of honking is part of the soundscape, and I did not even flinch. Then, he hangs our of his cab, starts whisteling, hooting, and generally making lots of noise towards me.

Which makes the entire street turn around.

And join in! I consequently had about ten men hooting and whisteling at me! It was a most surreal experience!

I did what I always do when nervous – hold my head up high, hurry on, and hail the next best taxi that comes along.

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.