It was recess on a warm Wyoming fall afternoon in third grade. I giggled freely with one of my classmates, whom I had spent countless sleepovers and play-dates. Another girl in my grade came around the corner and declared “Josie, you are so short!!” To my shock I looked at my childhood friend bewildered and said honestly “No, I’m not.” My friend let out a laugh and said “Of course you are, Josie.” Now in-line to go back into school, two other classmates chimed in and began to make jokes about my shortness. I felt the lump exploding in my throat as I broke through the school line, running into my classroom to find my teacher. Obviously startled by my tears and frantic face, he asked what was wrong. I explained my experience and he too let out a deep belly laugh to confirm “Yes, Josie you are short.” It was from these experiences that I have always ‘heightened’ my sense of inclusion and acceptance of others.
But seriously though, I am short. 4’10. There is no denying it. It took me about ten years since that day in third grade to fully accept and embrace I am ‘vertically challenged.’ I really shouldn’t have been surprised. Most of my family is on the smaller side: with a mother at 5’2, father at 5’6 and grandmother at 5’0 (but getting smaller each day). Starting in high school and most of college I dated tall men. Like football big and tall. But it was literally a stretch, as I found when I married a man who comes in at 5’5.
Now my life includes step stools in each room, inability to touch the ground while sitting, hemming everything, standing on my tiptoes at counters and struggling at concerts with only standing room.
I dedicate this post to all my fellow other short girls and women out there. On twitter there even are a handful of hashtags dedicated to our ‘problems’ like #shortgirlproblems. But to all of my average to tall folks reading, let me give a few pieces of advice when you encounter a short girl:
- Remind us how short we are (see below)
- Ask us why we are short
- Pat us on our heads
- Use our shoulder as an armrest
- Point out how elementary kids (or your kids) are taller than us
That being said, in writing this post I couldn’t help but think of all the great things that come with being on the smaller side:
- You’ll always look younger
- Hitting your head is a rare occurrence
- On airplanes there is no need for extra leg room
- Beds are always long enough
- Guaranteed front row of pictures
To all my shorties out there, keep your heads high. In a world where everyone is trying to be unique, you were born with the genes to set yourself apart.