12 Tall Girl Pop Culture Moments That Mattered So Much To Women Of Above Average Height
"You're so tall." It's only three words, but it can inspire a whole lot of baggage. As a tall woman (5'10" to be exact), I know how frustrating it is to be constantly reminded of your own physical being and how it's different than that of the people around you. Being tall comes with expectations about what you do (mostly athletics, which never applied to my gangly existence), who you love ("I know a really tall guy you should meet!"), and how you dress (heels are usually a no-go). Of course, there are perks (a closer vicinity to higher shelves, for one), but overall, it can be a bit of a burden — which is why these pop culture moments featuring tall girls matter so much.
Representation for women of all colors, shapes, and sizes is crucial. Many female experiences held by women of color, plus size women, and other marginalized female groups get far too few images that speak to their truth. As such, it's a huge deal when pop culture includes moments that honor our differences and make us feel beautiful, whether in the form of famous women talking about their insecurities. beloved TV characters getting real about owning who they are, or rom-coms ignoring the traditional ideals of femininity.
Whatever your distance from the ground, everyone can relate to feeling discomfort about who they are or awkwardness about how to accept it. But the representations in media below, whether through intentional dialogue or those in the spotlight merely being themselves, have allowed women like myself to feel empowered and reach new heights.
1. C.J. Cregg Taking Charge On 'The West Wing'
At 6'0", Allison Janney is not only a hero to tall women everywhere, but so is her West Wing character, CJ Cregg. CJ uses her height to her advantage in a male-dominated political field, and while she has to endure the typical tall-person jokes (particularly when Big Bird visits the White House in Season 3), she also reveals a vulnerability about being a tall woman that rings true. During a scene with love interest Simon, CJ says, "I like that you’re tall. It makes me feel more feminine." While many tall women don't want to admit that this can feel true or that our femininity in any way should be tied to our relation to a man, I remember watching this scene and recognizing feelings of my own that I was having, within it.
Janney herself also recognized the baggage that can accompany height as a woman in an interview with NPR: “I say I'm 5 feet 12 inches. I'm definitely 6 feet. In my heels I'm 6 feet 3 inches. ... [As a kid], I was always sort of a late bloomer in a lot of things. I always felt that way. I felt like my career started late and I think it was because of my height — and maybe some of my confidence issues."
2. Mandy Moore Getting Real About Owning Who You Are
One thing virtually every tall girl can relate to is slumping your shoulders. Consciously or not, I have found myself on many occasions exhibiting bad posture in the name of fitting into an environment. But when Mandy Moore spoke to her journey to accepting her tallness, and finding a man who loves her for it, it was an inspiring moment.
“When I was 12 or 13, I grew four inches over the summer, and I developed terrible posture because I was taller than all the guys and uncomfortable in my skin," Moore told Shape. "Although I’ve become a lot more comfortable with myself — I’m 5'10" and a size 6 — everyone has their self-doubts and insecurities. But as I get older, I’m learning what it takes to love myself fully through exercise, healthy eating, and monitoring my inner voice in an effort to keep it positive. By self-prioritizing, I feel healthier, more centered, and therefore more confident. I’ve come to love my height. Taylor is a bit shorter than I am, but I’ll put on those four-inch heels and be 6'2"!”
3. Taylor Swift Strutting In Heels
Many taller women are resistant to wearing heels of any kind for fear of standing out even more from a crowd. But when Taylor Swift achieved superstardom, I felt inspired to follow her high-heeled lead. Never one to stray away from standing out, Swift wears high heels nearly everywhere she goes, whether performing with another artist onstage or presenting at an awards show like the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards pictured above. She never shies away from accentuating her height — and undeniably owns it.
4. Minnie Driver Speaking The Truth
Several memes and tweets have exposed how ridiculous it is that shorter male actors sometimes stand on apple boxes when next to taller women. This hints at a discomfort that men have with their own masculinity. (In short: we're all struggling.) But perhaps even more outlandish is the idea that a woman would have to stand in a hole just in order to appear shorter than her male counterpart. Minnie Driver revealed she had experienced just that (twice!) in a Hollywood Reporter roundtable, seen above.
“Most actors are short, certainly the ones I’ve worked with… (and) they would dig me a ditch to do a kissing scene in,” said Driver. “So, you’d be in there down with the mud and the dirt. And I remember just voicing early on, ‘Wouldn’t it be just a bit easier if maybe he stood on a half apple or a whole apple (carton) than dig me a ditch?'"
Tall women can feel this irony on a visceral level.
5. Vivian Wearing The Red Dress In 'Pretty Woman'
One of the most memorable rom-coms of all time gives a little shoutout to tall ladies everywhere. When Edward (Richard Gere) and an iconically-clad Vivian (Julia Roberts) head to the opera, he remarks that she looks very beautiful and very tall. What might feel like a throwaway line for some carries weight for women with some height of their own.
6. Tall Barbie Arriving In Stores
Barbie has a history of being problematic in terms of not representing the full spectrum of races, body types, and lived experiences. But in 2016, a small stride towards equality was made when Barbie released a line of curvy, tall, and petite dolls. Jury is out on the tall doll's proportions in accordance to Ken's, but it does make a statement about including women of more shapes and sizes.
And for this tall woman, it was nice to see that younger girls who might have some more height would get the chance to buy a doll they could relate to.
7. Nicole Kidman & Keith Urban Owning The Red Carpet
Being a tall woman in a patriarchal society comes with a set of unique challenges: learning to dance in gym class when you’re a foot taller than every boy in your grade; wearing flats and slouching in homecoming photos to avoid looking taller than your date; dying a little inside each and every time you spot a tall guy with a short girl.
However, all preconceived notions of how tall a girl should be in proportion to her man go out the window each time Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban hit a red carpet together. No stranger to multi-height romances after her marriage to Tom Cruise, 5’11" Nicole Kidman is living proof that when you’re in love, who cares how tall you stand compared to your significant other? Any of us would be lucky to find someone who looks at us the way Keith Urban does.
8. Zendaya Encouraging Tall Women To Wear What They Want
In a tall-girl call-to-action, Zendaya emboldened fans to wear what they want and embrace who they are — no matter their height. "I always tell my fans that people are going to comment on your height regardless, so you might as well be as tall as possible and look good doing it!," Zendaya said when asked about her penchant for heels by People. Though the actor had previously expressed fear about her height, including the thought that she might lose out on her role in Spider Man: Homecoming because of it, she's leading by example and encouraging others to be positive about their appearances.
9. Jane Trying On Bridesmaid Dresses In '27 Dresses'
Another thrilling, albeit small moment for tall women came during a key scene in 27 Dresses. When perennial bridesmaid Jane tries on her 27 past gowns for reporter Kevin, he guesses that she's been subjected to so many undesirable dresses because the bride doesn't want to stand next to someone so tall and gorgeous. Yet another reason to love James Marsden.
10. Skeeter Giving This Speech In 'The Help'
In the best-selling book and 2011 film of the same name, Skeeter (Emma Stone) expresses insecurities about her curly, unruly hair and above-average height. A passage from the book sees Skeeter discussing the possibility of finding a person who loves her just as she is, with the journalist saying, "It was having someone look at you after your mother has nearly fretted herself to death because you are freakishly tall and frizzy and odd. Someone whose eyes simply said, without words, You are fine with me.”
No matter your stature, we all want to feel acceptance on that level.
11. 'Double Teamed' Making Teen Girls Feel Accepted
Any taller girl who grew up in the DCOM era remembers the 2002 movie Double Teamed, which tells the story of too tall, blonde twins who take over their high school's basketball team. The film shows the hilarious awkwardness that can accompany being inches above a crowd, and when it was released, it likely made some young viewers feel less weird about their own differences.
12. Aisha Tyler Telling All In Her Book
Comedian, actor, and host Aisha Tyler spoke to the intersectionality between height and race that affected her upbringing in her 2013 book, Self-Inflicted Wounds. When detailing her childhood in Oakland, California she wrote: "For one thing, I was extraordinarily tall. In third grade I was almost twice as tall as some of the other kids. My parents were hippie progressives, vegetarians and poor, though they managed to send me to a private school. I was the only black kid there. I stuck out like a big, black thumb."
So, for tall girls and anyone else out there insecure about their appearances: take note of these uber-successful people who overcame obstacles and proudly strut their stuff.