Height Matters

 (Originally published 5/10/07) 

The average female height in the UK is 5″4, the average male height is 5″9. This leaves a healthy 5 inches of alpha masculine protectiveness between the sexes. I, however, am 5″8. Now, by no means does this make me exceptionally tall. It’s not one of the first things people notice about me, nor do people whisper ‘gosh, look how tall she is’ in my wake. I am one of the few women that suffer from ‘awkwardus verticalis‘. Yeah, I just made that up, but the point is, I’m not tall enough to be exceptional, but I am tall enough for it to cause problems.

The other night I went out with some female friends. They’re all shorter than me, and this is something I’ve gotten used to. With the exception of my sister and possibly one girl on my course (who is super tall), I’m the tallest girl I know. Anyway, when we got to the restaurant, my friend pulled a pair of heels out of her bag, slipped them on and said ‘so this must be what it’s like for you all the time, Rach‘.

Well, my vertically challenged mascot, the allure wears off after a while, I tell you.

Mother nature/God/Evolution has dictated that men are taller than women for a reason. They’re the hunters, the ‘stronger’ sex, the protectors; whatever. So when you’re out and some drunken random staggers up to you with beer breath, spluttering incomprehensible gibberish, your alpha male can step in, swoop the offending moron out of your path and subsequently scoop you up in his arms and carry you home. Yet for some reason, it’s assumed that if you’re a tall lady, you have some kind of super power making you more adept to dealing with such things, and thus on evenings when I’ve been accosted by said randoms my male friends have laughed and playfully punched me on the arm and made hilarious quips and it’s all been very jolly indeed. Yet substitute me for one of my female Pygmy friends and it’s a different matter altogether.

‘Oi mate, leave it out eh?’

‘Yeah, in your dreams geezer’


And then there’s comforting arms round shoulders and ‘don’t worry, we’ll get you home safe and sound’ and me lagging behind with leery piss artists hanging on to my legs and my friends shouting ‘Just tell them to piss off, Rach‘ as they stampede on ahead.

Of course, then there’s the issue of shoes. Girls love heels. Fact. They make you feel sexy. They do wonders for your legs and they’re just basically fabulous. But me in a pair of 3 inches = 5″11. That’s nearly 6ft tall. That’s at least two inches taller than MOST men in the UK. So men don’t look at me and have their masculine ‘Me man, you woman’ instincts kick in, they think ‘if she’s taller than me then she’s probably a bloke’ or some such. As a result I’ve resorted to flats or trainers on an almost permanent basis. Which is rubbish because I have chunky calves and quite often feel dumpy, despite my height.

Without wanting to dwell on this too much (for his sake and mine), my current beau is shorter than me. A LOT SHORTER. He’s quite a lot shorter than the national average. I’m quite a bit taller than the national average. This does not a well matched couple make. Just look at Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. I don’t care if he is one of the most successful actors of our generation, or if she starred in a smash hit teen drama as the sought after girl next door, they look weird together. End of. And they’re the ‘beautiful people’, so God only knows what me and my similarily non rich, non vogue significant other must look like side by side. Ridiculous, probably.

The other day I had to suffer the indignity of running for the bus in front of him. I later got a text which bizarrely said ‘you run like a tiny gazelle’. Now, he knows I’m a bit sensitive about my height so I can only imagine that he’d found my flailing, lumbering sprint down the road so amusing that he felt compelled to comment on it, and where he’d written ‘tiny’ he originally meant ‘clumsy’, and where he’d written gazelle, he meant ‘hippo’. Or if he did mean gazelle, he meant the one that ends up being eaten by the lion.

So, next time you see a tall girl bending down awkwardly to hear what her friends are saying, or see a lass shuffling along in flats next to her averagely sized boyfriend, or wonder what the hell’s going on with her jeans because they’re either flapping around her ankles or dragging along under her shoes, spare a thought for us ‘in-betweenies‘, because for us, size really does matter.


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