Height stereotypes are not just tall tales

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I was born a straight white male into a middle-class family. I am well-versed, healthy, sane, musically gifted and my crosses to bear are few. I shouldn’t complain. I really shouldn’t.

When looking at the personal characteristics that make me, Landon Defever, a person, I should be relatively happy with who I am from a statistical standpoint.

On a daily basis, I am surrounded by people that experience emotional torment or at the very least, be treated differently based on their race, gender or sexual orientation.

For all intents and purposes, I am an average human being. There is one attribute about me, however, that most should probably be aware of.

My height. 6’ 7” (79 inches off the ground without shoes), as a matter of fact. With the average male height in the United States at 5’ 10” (70 inches), I don’t just beat this statistic – I shatter it.

Now, I know what you may be thinking: Why is this something that needs to be discussed? Why would anybody care what someone who’s tall has to go through? Some of you may have already decided to stop reading.

For those of you who are still with me, however, when looking at the prejudices and annoyances that my height entails, you may be surprised. While none of these are as severe as what someone of a minority might experience, they still exist, but are not frequently addressed.

One of the biggest things I deal with on an almost daily basis are random comments or questions regarding my height. And when I say a daily basis, that’s not a hyperbole: The remarks are consistent and of the same general nature.

Some are common, such as  asking what my height is. When I proceed to tell them 6’7”, they usually look surprised, despite the fact that I do appear to be that tall. Others, however, completely neglect asking me and instead just give the obvious remark, “Wow, you’re tall!”

To this type of response, I have no other way of communicating my thoughts than just agreeing. I know I’m tall – I have eyes to see and mirrors to look at when I’m at home. I don’t need to be reminded.

The other kind of response I get, which is probably the most annoying, is “Do you play basketball?” To this, I reply “no”, as it had never been something that had interested me. This shocks them as well, exclaiming things like, “WHAT?! But you’re so tall! How can this be?”

Believe it or not, just because some people are taller than others doesn’t mean they all conform to the same type of activities. Not to mention, if your impression of most tall people is that they play sports such as basketball, then why would you comment in the first place – to reaffirm your ill-informed beliefs?

That would be the equivalent of me going up to an extremely short person and saying, “Wow, you’re so short! You must be a jockey!”

Okay, maybe it’s not THAT extreme, but that’s how it feels when someone tries convincing me  that not following a stereotypical path is wrong. Not only is that an unfair assumption to make about a person, but it also makes you seem uninformed.

I understand why people find it acceptable to do this, however. Many people believe that being tall is automatically a positive attribute, making it acceptable to comment and ask strange questions.

That’s not to say being this tall has its advantages. As someone who goes to concerts on an almost weekly basis, being able to get a perfect view of the band is fantastic.

This reminds me, if you’re behind me at a concert, I don’t want to hear you complain about my height. We both paid the same amount for a ticket and it’s more than likely a general admission venue. There are plenty of other places you can stand.

Just as with any type of personal characteristic, there are obvious downsides. Because I’m so tall, I’m often the butt of ridicule when standing in line behind someone. They turn around, see me, pretend to be frightened by my size and then laugh it off.

Furthermore, I could fill up a book’s worth of incidents when I’ve almost tripped and accidentally made a scene due to my height and how off balance I am because of it. Yet, I digress.

I’m not saying this is a huge, ongoing problem where tall people of the world need to unite and march into the streets for a height pride parade – though I would absolutely love to see those slogans (“We’re here! Don’t jeer! We’re tall, get used to it!”).

I’m sure most people assume they’re being complementary when they make comments about my height. Regardless, it’s something I’ve bottled up since preschool that I felt needed addressing. Just remember, the next time you pass by someone of greater height than you, a comment, even with good intentions, can still have a negative impact.