Now you know all those posts on social media about the #tallgirlproblems we all face; how would you feel if you not only had to face these yourself but help guide your tall children through them as well. Encouraging them to stand straight and tall because you know one day they will understand that they do want to stand out and not fit in.
As a mum of 2 young girls (age 7 and 2), I am often told by people how tall they are. And how they will be tall like me when they grow up. Now, I know that when people say this they are usually being genuine and trying to offer me a compliment. But it’s one of those back handed compliments. I couldn’t turn around and say in response how short their child is and how they will be short when they grow up. I’m pretty certain that wouldn’t be taken as a compliment!
I absolutely do want my children to grow up to be tall; I think it would be wonderful. It comes with so many benefits but it also comes with some hard lessons; which can be difficult to shoulder if they come into their height whilst still very young – don’t even get me started on where to shop for them!
When I was around 8 or 9 years old, I started to tower over my classmates, both male and female. I was far too young to comprehend that there were any benefits to this at all. The only thing I knew was that I didn’t fit in and my friends had noticed! Not only did my height make me self-conscious around my friends it also made me awkward in my own body; ungainly and clumsy.
Add to all this the problem of nothing ever fitting or looking right and you can imagine how long it took me to overcome these feelings and actually want to stand up straight to reach my full height. Even now I struggle with back problems and hunched shoulders due to years and years of trying to hide. Standing up to my full height is something I still have to make a very conscious effort to do.
My parents and sisters are average height. Only my brother could and can still top me so there wasn’t much understanding at home. In the age that I grew up, access to information and people was much more limited than it is for today’s generation of kids. I didn’t come across many other girls experiencing the same problems. Trying my best to ignore my differences and fit in with my friends was all I could really do. Until I reached my late 20’s I really had no idea that there were any other options.
I think through no fault of their own, my parents didn’t really notice that my height was causing me to lose my self-esteem. Hopefully for my children I will have the understanding, insight and empathy to be able to offer more support to them. But in the end the strength you need comes from within. When nature forces you to stand out, strength of character appears.
So like every parent on the planet, I look to instill a belief. I want them to believe in themselves, their own good judgement and opinions. My wish is that they face the world. Not shy away from it because of something which makes them different. I’ve always encouraged them to love the differences that they find in others and to support each other and their friends with open minds and hearts. I know I am not alone in either the problems I faced or the hopes that I have for my girls. I’m so glad that young women of the world are coming together to form these communities, to give themselves the opportunity of knowing what it feels like to fit in somewhere and have their difference celebrated. Just hearing that another person has had the same experience can mean the world and can often make all the difference.
Here are my 5 Top Tips for helping little ones who are not so little:
1. Talk to them about the good things and the not so good things that come with being tall. I know which list is longer!
2. Help them to find clothes that fit! I know it is hard when the waist is small and the legs are long. Even if it means finding a good seamstress think of how much difference this would have made to you.
3. Ask them what they like about their friends. The answer is unlikely to be a physical attribute. Point this out to them and remind them that their friends probably don’t even notice their height.
4. Share your own experience with them. Let them know they are not alone and point out tall role models that will appeal to them.
5. Lead by example! Make sure you show them how to stand tall and proud, it is the best way for them to learn. (Remember though, we all have bad days where we slouch or moan or feel defeated. After all, we’re only human).
At the end of it all and regardless of height, I hope that my girls, and their friends find acceptance and happiness for themselves. If you have any tips you’d like to share, my girls and I would be very grateful.