When I was 12 my mom took me shopping for pantyhose at Younkers department store in my Iowa hometown. I had a piano recital coming up, and a recent growth spurt meant the tights in the children’s section no longer fit. On the back of the hosiery packaging there was a matrix chart: height on one side and weight on the other. You were supposed to find the box where your height and weight intersected, and the color code would tell you which size to purchase. As I dragged my finger along the package to find my size, I felt a wave of panic. At 6’2”, I was off the matrix. A total freak.
It was an objective confirmation of how I already felt. I was the tallest person in my junior high school — bigger than all the other girls, all the pre-growth-spurt boys, even all the teachers. And there was nothing I wouldn’t have given to be just an inch or two shorter. I try to remember that feeling now, when women I don’t know approach me and say things like “What I wouldn’t give to be your height.” I’ve spent my entire life hovering almost a foot taller than most women. And while it’s often been a source of insecurity, the older I get, the more comfortable I am with myself. I’m far less comfortable with the feelings my body seems to bring out in other women.