By: Genny Boots ’18
“Wow, you are SO tall.”
“Thanks. I know.”
It seems like every time I decide to wear heels my already tall, 6-foot frame becomes a walking target for conversation and catcalls or shy, intimidated glances. When I worked at a shoe store, I ran into women who would actively avoid the heels for fear of being “too tall.” I couldn’t understand why.
In this country, height is directly related to power, and as we know power has long been in the hands of men. Tall women wearing heels threatens the social and beauty norms of our culture.
Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink surveyed half of the companies from the Fortune 500 list, and found that “on average CEO’s were just a shade under six feet,” which is three inches taller than the average U.S. male height. According to Gladwell, these CEO’s were also abundantly white men.
For tall women, who were simply dealt a genetic threat to the patriarchy, it is no wonder we have been conditioned to avoid the stiletto. Men are supposed to be strong and tall, and we take notice when, in heterosexual relationships, the woman is obviously taller than her male partner. This social phenomenon was measured in the UK and results confirmed that we more often choose mates taller than us, than random chance would predict.
So: height is associated with power, men are supposed to be powerful and in most relationships the woman is far shorter. How easy is it then, we grow up thinking tall women are not beautiful, rather weird and mannish?
This tall tale is really about body acceptance. We live in a society with harsh beauty ideals for all women. Growing up in a culture that places so much value on what you look like haunts women of all ages.
So love your body and love it because you are tall, short and just right. Make that your daily feminist action. And for the tall women at the shoe store, don’t shy away from the high heels.
Imani Cezanne’s wonderful spoken word performance of “Heels”