Fifteen years ago, before my second growth spurt, I was considered “normal” height for my age (whatever “normal” is supposed to mean!) I could buy clothes off the rack, I was rarely the first picked on a sporting team, and I didn’t stand out in crowds. Since then, I have shot up noticeably, and am now at least 1.5 standard deviations above median height for a male-identifying adult. Would I change it for the world? No. I love who I am, even when it makes my life more difficult or more complicated. My friends - my true friends, at least - also love me. Not in spite of my height, but not because of it either. It’s certainly a part of who I am, but I try not to let it define me. Having said that, there are certain things that I’ve definitely grown tired of hearing. I understand that people who say these things might have innocent intentions, but please, for the sake of all of us who are more than one and a half standard deviations above median height, please just STOP!
Stop. You don’t have the right to use that word. “Tall” is a word you use to distinguish yourself from the “other”. By calling me “tall”, you are constructing impassable symbolic boundaries to create a dichotomy, an us versus them situation where you are the “us” and I am the “them”. It’s a zero sum outcome in a binary thought matrix that fixes and naturalises the difference between belongingness and otherness.
How’s the weather up there?
Wow, really? This is an age old misunderstanding of meteorological science. While it is true that atmospheric conditions do change as altitude increases, the difference in altitude between a person of median height and a person of more than one and a half standard deviations above median height is statistically insignificant. Unless we are standing in a trench and my head is poking over the top and yours isn’t, the weather is exactly the same “up here” as it is for you.
Do you play basketball?
Oh boy. Am I wearing a basketball singlet, basketball shorts, and a pair of basketball shoes? No, doesn’t look like it. So why would you think that I -- oh, because of my height. Not my hand-eye coordination, competitive personality, or sense of fair play. Just my height.
What are you, six five? Six six?
How dare you! What is it that makes you feel the need to reduce me to a number? What is it about my lengthwise occupation of space that you feel is so worthy of comment, and so vital to your understanding of the cosmos that you would dare to ask me? What else do you want to know? My blood pressure? My sperm count?
Has anyone ever told you you look like [insert name of famous person who is more than one and a half standard deviations above median height]?
I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you over the sound of my blood boiling. Let me guess, it’s because we are both more than one and a half standard deviations above median height. Is that really all you see when you look at me? Do you not realise I am a complex human being with thoughts, dreams, and a multifaceted personality? Would you tell every black person they look like Eddie Murphy? Would you tell every Chinese person they look like Faye Wong? So don’t try it on me.
Watch your head!
I hope you haven’t eaten, because I have a fresh batch of outrage stew. Look, while you may have my best interests at heart (a bump to the head can be painful, regardless of your height), all you have succeeded in doing is remind me of the architectural oppression I face on a daily basis. Yes, I have to duck to fit through most doorways. How do you think that makes me feel? Buildings are designed to accommodate humans, yet am I not also a human? Thanks for rubbing it in, jerk.
You know, from this height I could quite easily punch you in the balls.
My balls are made of solid testosterone. You would break your wrist.
So, what should you say the next time you encounter someone who is more than one and a half standard deviations above median height? How about “hello”, or “how do you do?” It really isn’t that hard.