Opinion | Confessions of a tall girl

tall girl
Natalie van Winden
Web Editor
@natvanwinden

On Saturday, I wore two-inch heels to work. I don’t even know if these measly two inches can even count as heels, but for the three strangers who commented on my height that day, it clearly made a difference to them. With those shoes, I am easily 6 feet 1 inch tall. That’s the infamous height of the so-called tall girl from “Tall Girl,” the new Netflix original film.

I have some thoughts.

Many people on the internet are upset about Netflix making a movie revolving around the struggles of a girl who is tall, yes, but also white, pretty, blonde, young and from an upper-middle-class household. When the trailer was released in August 2019, several tweets crafted in response went viral, making fun of “Tall Girl” and criticizing the audacity of Netflix to give representation to tall people everywhere, instead of making films about those who desperately need representation in the entertainment industry.

I like to consider myself “woke,” although admittedly, I have many of the same privileges that Jodi – the tall girl from “Tall Girl” – has, if not all of them. The only difference between Jodi and myself is that she wears “size 13 Nikes” and I wear the conventionally average 8.5.

I can admit that in a world currently marked by an administration that fuels hatred, discrimination and further marginalizes so many groups of people, Jodi and I don’t need a movie about how hard it is to have to sit at an angle on an airplane.

With that being said, I don’t think “Tall Girl” was made to tackle the big issues our country is facing. It was made so that we could all be distracted for an hour and 41 minutes by a mediocre-at-best movie that comes with a happy ending. And with a talented woman of color, Nzingha Stewart, directing, I think we can all agree that there are more important things to get offended about.

I actually could relate to “Tall Girl” in the way I assume Netflix was aiming for. I used to be extremely insecure about my height. It might seem silly to some of you and it does for me too. This is taking into account that I am still below the 6-foot threshold and I know plenty of taller-than-me women who are beautiful, confident and rock their height. But I never felt like that.

When you are young, getting taller is pretty much the best thing in the world. It’s a game fueled by childhood wonder and the overwhelming desire to grow up. My twin sister and I would compete over who was taller than the other one. One month it would be her, then me and vice versa. I eventually won that game by a whole two inches.

It was around the sixth grade when my height started becoming a “thing.” I tried out for volleyball and basketball and made both teams since my height made me an ideal candidate. I was awarded most valuable player and averaged 16 points a game. For sixth grade girl’s basketball, that’s baller status. I was the LeBron James of John B. Riebli Elementary School in Santa Rosa, California.

From left to right: van Winden, teammate Brenda Soundara and sister Angela van Winden, age 11

From there, I got taller and more insecure. Being tall isn’t about how the “weather is up there,” being tall for me was about not feeling feminine. I wanted to feel small and girly like my friends, but instead I had to wear bigger sizes and be taller than all boyfriends in middle school and high school.

I wish I could end this article by accepting my height and saying that I’m so confident now, I would date someone shorter than me or wear heels that I know would make me taller than my date. But those things aren’t true.

I do love my height. I do love myself for who I am. Those things are true. My height brought me so much. It brought me my passion for sports, lifelong friends, a competitive spirit. It brought me my Dutch family, all tall, all amazing people who I met when I studied abroad in the Netherlands – partially because the Dutch are on average the tallest people in the world.

For all the things my height brought me, I love it. For all the times I felt big, unlovable, uncomfortable, I love it for teaching me how to be strong. I’m not all the way there yet. Maybe my husband will be shorter than me – who knows. But right now, I’m focused on loving myself and my height more and more every day, all 71 inches.