I think I first noticed I was different when I was in the fifth grade. I have been tall my whole life. I was always the tallest in the class — proud to be standing on the back bleachers while taking our class photo. I was taller than all the boys, and I loved it. I was different. I stood out. My height was how people knew me. Kristin: the tall girl.
It was in the fifth grade when Lisa and I became friends, although looking back now, I would say she resembled nothing close to a friend. Among our group of friends, she was the Queen Bee. She was a tiny blonde with a mean face, and everyone was afraid of her. Her mother was really into Weight Watchers, and at 11 years old, so was she. Every day at lunch, she would criticize what our parents packed for us — my pizza Lunchables were not cutting it. She would say things like, “How could you eat that? It’s so many points. Don’t you want to be small?” All she would do is talk about how tiny she was. That’s when I started to feel insecure about my own size. This bully made me think that because I wasn’t small like her, I must be ugly.
I remember it was the end of the year and we were reading our “All About Me” assignments we wrote at the beginning of the year. I was so excited because I went from being 5’3” to 5’7” in a whole school year. I was bragging to everyone around me about how much I had grown when Lisa overheard. She said, “You’re ugly now, imagine how much uglier you were in the beginning of the year.” She was obviously lashing out because she was jealous of my height, but at the time I didn’t know.
It was this one mean girl who set me off into years of insecurities.
I would cry every morning, hoping to find something that would make me stand out less, something that would make me look smaller. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t look like the other girls; I thought I was a monster. The only other girls my height were models. And I looked nothing like those girls. I thought the rule was that if you were tall, you had to be skinny. You had to be 5’10″ and a size 2. Or you had to be good at basketball. If you didn’t play basketball, and you weren’t a model, then your height was just a waste. What was the point?
After struggling with so much self-doubt, when I was 15 years old, I met someone that changed my life. It was when my dad (6’5″) met his now second ex-wife (my dad loves marriage). Her name was Liz. She was beautiful, curvy, and most importantly, 6’ tall. She walked into a room and had a strong, commanding presence. You couldn’t help but notice her. I was proud of my dad; he finally found a good one. When I first met Liz, something within me was awakened. I finally found someone just like me. She made me realize that I didn’t have to be small to be beautiful. For the first time in my life, I had another female my own size that I could relate to. She changed what I thought about my life and myself. Why was I comparing myself to these small, frail girls? I am powerful. I am never going to be small. Nothing on my body is small. I even have long toes; my doctor calls them finger toes. Was that too far? The point is Liz came into my life at the perfect time. She showed me that it is okay to be different, and that you want to be confident in the thing that makes you different. Why be like everyone else? Being tall is awesome! Yes, sometimes dating is hard, and it’s even harder to find jeans, but we will save that for a different article.
Now at 28 years old, I’m 6’ tall, a size 10, and I’m happy. Yes, I don’t have a model’s body, and I still can’t shoot a basketball to save my life, but today I’m a stand-up comic living in New York City. I go on stage almost every night and I feel confident in my body. I feel that with my height, I can get on stage and demand respect.
Even though Liz and my father aren’t together, she is still very active in my life — we like to hang out and have beach days. Liz and my dad had a daughter together. She is now 12 years old and 5’8″. I don’t want my little sister to have the struggles with her body image like I did, and I just want to be for her what her mother was to me: someone to look up to.