Warning: This article is real and might totally ruffle some feathers.
Warning #2: Seriously, I’m going to let it all out in this one and, whether you agree or disagree, what I’m sharing has been experienced by many tall women (including myself) and needs to be talked about.
Warning #3: Ok, I warned you!
In all seriousness, I actually hesitated a bit writing this article because I’m sharing something very personal. While I knew what happened to me happens to other women, I was nervous — fearful even — to talk about it. When I started working with other tall women who experienced the exact same thing, I decided it was time to speak out.
I was sexually harassed in the workplace.
Let me start off by saying that ANY comments that make you feel uncomfortable should be reported. At the time, my own emotional processing was so all over the place that I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. Everything from “Was it my fault?” to “Why the heck would someone think that was ok to say?!” went through my brain and, ultimately, my confidence suffered.
As tall women, we’re so used to people making unwanted comments about our bodies. We’re taught to brush it off, ignore, and accept the reality that we’re different, but we’re rarely taught how a strong, empowered woman would handle it when it goes too far. If we’re being honest, responding to every single comment about our height, in and out of work, would be exhausting, so often we resort to acceptance. For me, I learned to “accept” when coworkers made comments about my body, just as I learned to “accept” the fact that random strangers in the grocery store would always mention how “big” or “huge” I am.
There is a time and place for acceptance. Doing so to the point of feeling uncomfortable at work is not one of them.
Pretty please don’t take on my view or experience if it is not your own. If you’ve had nothing but positive experiences with your height at work, that’s great! But what I’ve found in both my life and the lives of several tall women I’ve worked with is that height, especially when increased with heels, makes some coworkers uncomfortable.
It’s easier to tear others down than it is to build yourself up. It’s been my experience that this statement is the motivation behind why so many “intimidating” women (aka tall women) have negative interactions at work. Your height naturally makes a beautiful, strong statement, and it can be hard for others to appreciate their own worth when, in their minds, they are stuck in comparison mode. It’s easier to make a comment here or throw a jab there than it is to find ways in which they can contribute to the team.
So, if this has happened or is happening to you, I want you to know that you never have to let situations like this slide. As the strong, empowered woman you are, I encourage you to evaluate what’s been done or said and report it to a supervisor if it’s on that level.
Next (and this goes for ALL women, not just those facing this particular issue), set boundaries for those people in your life as to what goes and what absolutely does not. If you feel uncomfortable when someone makes a comment about your height, speak up! Tell that person how you feel. If a statement has been made that hurts your feelings, makes you angry, or violates your personal space then you have every right to stand up for yourself.
Dr. Brené Brown, American scholar and human connection researcher, once said, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” You are deserving of love and that love first starts with you.
Confidence is an inside job. If you’re looking to feel more confident in your skin, I encourage you to check out my Tall Girl’s Guide to Confidence! It’s every tool I used to help ditch insecurity and start loving the skin I’m in. Enjoy!