joni

I want to tell you about my shins. They're nearly two feet long, extending my legs to forty-five inches, and my total height to six-foot-three. Most tall people are tall because of their shins. My femurs, trunk, head and other parts are all normal sized. Perhaps my other shin-like bones, in my forearms and fingers, are a bit lengthy as well — I have a nine-and-a-half-inch thumb-to-pinky span, and my six-foot-five wingspan is slightly freakish. But mostly, it's the shins.

Long shins alter your social universe. To begin with, to be extra-tall is to be somehow more public than the average woman. Everybody sees me. Strangers on the subway peer upward and tell me about their childhood neighbor who was tall. Fellow grocery shoppers sheepishly request my help procuring items from upper shelves. Male passers-by mutter, "That was one giant woman." Men seem particularly inclined to register one characteristic: tall. They put me in the "enormous" category and move on. I compensate by joking openly about my height — a maneuver that I've noticed fat girls use. It's a social trick, pulling the ball back into your court by letting all your wonderful traits shine through from the get-go. The message is, "There are other things besides my shape that I want you to register, such as the fact that I am not a he-man, and you need to re-categorize me pronto."

As with any unusual trait, tall women attract fetishists. Because we're public, we're easy targets.

But height does have its bonuses. I'm remembered by everyone I've ever met. I've never been mugged. I'm perceived as smarter. And short people seem to think that tall is synonymous with sexy. They'll point out that Olympic volleyball bombshell Gabrielle Reece is six-three, that Kimora Lee Simmons is just a smidge over six feet, that Brigitte Nielsen, six-one, starred in a rarely viewed romantic comedy called She's Too Tall. What these people are really noting, however, is that pop culture finds long legs on very thin bodies sexy. All of these women weigh at least seventy-five pounds less than I do. But it's nice that short acquaintances of mine think that hypothetical others think I'm sexy.

Last year, it was my height that got me hired by a glossy magazine to photograph the Tall Clubs International convention, an annual gathering of men over six-two and women over five-ten. My assignment: Shoot the convention's crowning event, the glittering Miss Tall International pageant, where one woman would be chosen by pageant judges to represent the beauty and virtue of tall women everywhere.

As with any unusual trait, tall women attract fetishists. Because we're public, we're easy targets. Men follow me with their eyes. They begin with a head-to-toe-to-head scan, then settle into a sustained invasive gaze. Others follow me digitally, repeatedly emailing my ariannecohen.com account. Sometimes I'll find myself being tailed down the sidewalk until I duck into a fancy building and flash a smile at the doorman. Would he mind if I stayed for a moment? There's a creepy guy following me. "Sure, miss, no problem." We stand in silence. He glances over at me. "So, how tall are you?" Thus the allure of hanging out with tall people in a hotel at their weeklong social convention for uncharacteristically tall people. I could finally kick on my heels and be among my people.

My flight into Charleston arrived late, and I entered the lobby of the Riverview Hotel at a sprint, camera bouncing across my chest. The concierge glanced at me and silently aimed a pinky toward a dimmed conference room. Inside, a hundred men and women, five-foot-ten to seven-foot-two, sat around tables. The door banged closed behind me. Half of the audience turned at the disruption, straining their specially ordered formalwear, before nodding and returning their eyes to the stage, a set of cheap two-foot platforms on a beige rug, in front of a puce wall divider on tracks.

On the stage, spotlights followed five gowned pageant contestants in the formalwear competition, teetering through a holding pattern of steps, turns and pauses. The crowd hooted in support, and I began clicking away at the women, ages thirty-one to sixty-eight, trying to ignore the haze of fluorescent hotel lights.

The contestants disappeared, and the lights rose to blinding brightness. Intermission. I dashed backstage, behind the fake wall into the same beige conference room, to find out who, exactly, I was photographing. They immediately invited me to join the pageant, while squeezing into custom costumes, slathering themselves in skin-care products and experimenting with duct tape. "For tonight," announced the six-foot-two rosy-cheeked brunette who would later become the pageant's runner-up, "our make-up standard is, 'Can you see it from a galloping horse?'"

They returned to the stage for the pageant's Q&A and talent competition. Photographing normal-weight tall people is tricky, because on film they generally appear fat rather than tall. Shin height doesn't show on film, particularly when hidden under a gown, so the subject looks normally proportioned, but wide. The enormous breasts of six-foot-plus women only add to the illusion. I sat near the stage and quickly moved to the floor, keeping the camera low to accentuate the contestants' heights rather than girth, ignoring the fact that my black-denim rear was on view for the crowd.

I nervously anticipated the crowning of the winner, a blond-banged six-foot-tall special-education teacher in four-inch heels who later told me she'd entered because she wanted to meet people. Her strategy paid off. "When you're wearing a sash and crown," she later confided to me, "people talk to you." I dug my left shoulder into the rug, contorted the lower half of my body toward the crowd and nailed the crowning shot.

After the pageant, I circulated through the crowd of cocktail drinkers, who seemed to be mingling with no purpose. Weeklong conventions have a lot of that. It soon became apparent that tall clubs serve different purposes for different members. The women tend to be exceedingly friendly, a common trait among those with unusual physical characteristics. They are there to meet tall men who appreciate them, and to gush amongst themselves about how nice it is to rest a cheek against a male chest rather than a forehead. The men, on the other hand, are either incredibly tall and sick of bending down to normal-size women all the time, or they're tall fetishists who've squeaked in just over the six-foot-two minimum. Men, I've learned, will travel anywhere for a fetish. I once worked for a newspaper in Cambodia and met men who'd relocated from Manhattan instead of just hanging out in Chinatown.

"You must come on our trip through historical Charleston tomorrow," I was told repeatedly by women. "We recruit on the go! And after that is the pajama party." That was the closest anyone came to broaching the subject of height directly. Like a bar that caters mainly to alcoholics, talking about the thing that had brought us all together seemed strictly taboo.

Commentarium (31 Comments)

Nov 21 06 - 3:03pm
BHL

I have to say, she is so right. I myself am over 6 feet tall and I agree with everything she says. I think she wrote another article on here too. She's a really funny author. More, more!

Nov 21 06 - 10:17pm
kk

Unfortunately rare, refreshingly good writing. Pleased.

Nov 22 06 - 10:49am
kgs

I agree, this was a great piece. I'd like to see more in-depth dating/sex stories from people with unique perspectives.

Nov 22 06 - 9:33pm
dcf

i enjoyed reading this. it flows well with the conversation i had with my ex girlfriend yesterday (she's only six foot tall, but the boys she meets are five nine, so whatever) about her experiences. i'm emailing her the link to this.

Nov 23 06 - 12:21pm
gs

Well, I think that the entire article was more or less devoted at how anying men are who like taller waomen and pegs everyone who likes taller womes are creeps.I think that is pretty bigoted narrow minded. As somone who has had a 13 year mariage with a taller woman and 2 children I can asure you I Am not a creep. Maybe is the writer were cool and not suich a bore she would find somebody.

Nov 24 06 - 8:02am
HH

"LOVED IT." Im a 6ft 2 amazionian goddess (in my mind) and would never admit to such vulnerabilities. fair paly to you for doing so

Nov 24 06 - 11:25pm
SI

I thought this "As a girl who regularly spends thirty minutes in the lotion aisle debating the merits of "nourishing" versus "softening," I felt rushed." was gold. Laughed out loud because, oh, so true.
I can't help wanting to tell you that, geez, why would you feel you had to get involved with such a loser in the first place? No ties-sex is no replacement for good sex. I think the dealbreaker was when a guy who doesn't even know you requests that you wear a particular item (high heels, in this case). That's your cue.

Nov 26 06 - 4:48pm
SPif

Funny stuff! I'm about 5'8" but I like my girlfriends to be taller than me. Not for any particular fetish. I think my first serious girlfriend in college was a gorgeous 6' tall model-type, so that sort of set the stage. Sex with tall women is fabulous. It's great to be wrapped up in those long legs... ;^) Most guys are afraid to approach tall women because, even if they are very attractive, many guys are intimidated. Tall women usually end up being very approachable and friendly, maybe they like the attention they might not normally get or deserve as people. Anyhow, enjoyed the article...

Nov 28 06 - 5:51am
roc

have you gotten many offers to take you out from this article?

I'm 6'8" and quite honestly, I'd jump at the chance.

I thought about joining the tall club in NYC once. but it seemed a bit skeevy and I had an impression that there would be ten guys to every female in the room.

drop me a line if you will: thatswhatitis@mac.com

Apr 01 07 - 8:10pm
MM

This was wonderful!

Apr 20 07 - 10:08am

Yes i am looking for tall women to love she must be over 6'0" talll

Dec 29 07 - 11:17pm
FXC

Great article. I guess I could comment more but the term "Great" says it all. Good Insight!

Dec 29 07 - 11:56pm
FXC

PS: You might enjoy reading a Fictional Biography By Susan Swan, reputed to be the "Tallest Woman Freelance Writer in Canada. Possibly the Tallest of either sex." The book is titled "The Biggest Modern Woman in the World". It is penned as an auto-biography of the nineteenth century giantess Anna Swan and attempts to accurately detail her life as close to historical fact as possible. It's good easy reading.

If you can't find a copy, I will send you one. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered an extra.

My email address is fxciv1@comcast.net

Frank

Jan 27 08 - 1:52am

can you send your pictures to my email... thommiami@yahoo.com
good discription, but I cant really imagine... thanks

Dec 16 08 - 12:35am
CR

Wow, this is great! You hit everything right on the head...I've experienced it all myself! I feel like you took all the situations I've gotten myself into and made them hilarious. It's great knowing I'm not alone. Thanks!

Jul 22 10 - 1:59am
Anna

This was fantastic to read! I'm only 17, but I've been 6'0" since I was 13, and already I know of the tall woman curse. And, like every other tall person out there, the first question asked when I meet someone is one of three things: "how tall are you," "do you play volleyball," or "do you play basketball?"

Always.

I have only met a few people who haven't, at some point, asked those questions.

I refuse to date a guy shorter than me--it's one of those things that just bug me in a relationship. I want a tall, strong man. Not some weakling that I have to get on my knees to kiss. And, since most guys haven't finished growing by the end of high school, only two guys are taller than I am.

Anyway, I'm done ranting about my life. It was really interesting to read this, I wasn't aware that they had tall people conventions.

Sep 28 10 - 6:41pm
grimbo

im 6ft5 but a tall persons convention seems a little needy, i may of course be wrong.

Oct 01 10 - 2:13pm
serialcrack

Your writing is simple great, Especially for beginners!

Oct 22 10 - 4:27pm
Wes

As a short guy, I get very annoyed when taller women pass me off as a fetish enthusiast and nothing more. You ladies frown on being objectified as tall women but it's OK for you to objectify me as the short man with a crazy fetish? All just because I'm attracted to you? It's bad enough already that short women thumb their noses at short guys for being too short. At the same time, all this stuff about taller women being more approachable is totally false and misleading. They're often the ones annoyed and insulted when a shorter man approaches. What's wrong with a short man dating a taller woman? Am I wrong for being attracted to taller women? Are we that backwards a society that caveman rules still dominate the mate selection process? I could list a bunch of physical requirements I have in a woman but I'd be called a sexist, male chauvinist, egotistical pig. Why is it still OK for women to pass negative judgement on smaller men? Why is it that when a taller woman dates a shorter man, society says she's lowering her standards? I honestly don't understand all the hatred towards short men. I haven't given up on finding a quality woman but my search for happiness can only be described as a long road paved with constant rejection. I'm 5'5 by the way.

Feb 18 11 - 3:01am
halie

How much visitors agreed with you?

May 04 11 - 2:49pm
steven

well said wes, im a short guy too and taller women dont take to us too kindly.
having a height requirement for someone is only going to make your dating pool smaller, such shallowness is going to lessen your chances of finding someone special.
but i dont care, its their loss not ours.
in fact, with me being a short guy i have the advantage of knowing which women (both short and tall) are shallow bitches and which women dont care so much about a mans height and focus on things of more importance such as their personality.
just remember this tall women - why would you want to go and require your man to always be taller than you when you can take this criteria off your list and make it more likely to meet a comitted, funny, entertaining and caring man by being more open? just because we are shorter than you doesnt mean that we are going to be any less of a man.
also a lot of taller women/shorter men couples say they dont care about their height difference and it was other things that attracted them to each other. so height is not such an issue as long as YOU dont make it an issue, its all in your heads.
Good Luck

May 11 11 - 8:20pm
Wes

You know something Steven, the more foreign women I meet, the more I believe this obsession with tall men is a total product of American culture. Canada too. It's the way these women are socialized and I don't get annoyed or frustrated as much anymore. It's a waste of energy and I really could care less. When you stop and think about it, you can't fault these women for the way they've been programmed. For most of them, a mans height is THEIR issue and they can't change what they've been taught to be attracted to. Add the elements of peer and parental pressure and what you get is a losing battle not worth fighting for. American culture idealizes tall men and they associate height with success. Women from other parts of the world have a broader understanding of the importance of character and personality. They focus way less on the visual and this is why I tend to appreciate them more than the ladies on this continent. I know it's kinda mean for me to say that but this doesn't mean there aren't good women here. I've met some great women in both the US and Canada who were absolutely dynamite people. Bad thing is there's still too few of these good women and more ladies with awful personalities that see nothing but height. These types live to disrespect any man who isn't tall enough and are more often single than they'd want to be. You couldn't have put it any better though. We short guys DO have the advantage in knowing the girls to avoid and the girls to pursue. Peace.

Jun 26 11 - 8:29am
Wardie

I dont understand why everyone is so bothered about height in terms of relationships, if you like someone then height doesn't matter. E.G. Im 5'8 but if I loved a woman who was like 7 foot Id still love her even if she was a giant to me.

Sep 08 11 - 6:42am
victor uno

I don't see anything wrong with tall women may cus I am six foot four its nice to have some who you can say we see eye to eye on things.

Sep 24 11 - 11:16am
Madeline

I'm about 6ft 1.... haven't measured myself in a while though, and I always try to dress to to flatter my height and shape (I'm also very slim). I'm often given jealous looks by woman who see me, they seem to look straight at my feet first to see if I'm wearing heels (which I never am). The fact that I'm not wearing heels and I'm still tall AND I'm slim results in a sly smile that reeks of I HATE YOU! I often find this quite hurtful, they don't know me and yet they are judging me. I know its no the worse kind of hate, but jealously from other woman makes me feel alienated and non relate-able. Just because I'm tall and slim doesn't mean I have a perfect life. Its almost comically that people assume I do. They should not judge a book by its cover. Woman are the most judgemental, men just use me as fleeting eye candy and assume I'm unattainable. How wrong.
I feel like I'm just having a rant really, but I have to deal with peoples stupid rude remarks and blatant jealous stares on a day to day basis and its gets boring and chips away at my confidence. Having said all this, I wouldn't change anything about my body, nothing at all, I'm confident with the way I look. I LOVE BEING TALL, SO DON'T BRING ME DOWN!

Feb 28 12 - 2:57pm
terry sindar

I am a man who is 5'8" with very long, thick blonde hair with a bachelor degree in Wildlife Biology. I am a musician playing the mediterranean/gypsy fiddle, percussion, and the accoustic bass. I would love to find a taller woman who is interested in dating a shorter man. Maybe somebody who likes to wrap her long legs around a smaller guy and squeeze. I would love to give such a woman a full body massage with oil, and wrap up.
I think it is terrible when people make rude comments about women being too tall. Get in touch with me. I have my own place in Cleveland on the lake.

Dec 29 11 - 4:06pm
Jamesize

I would love to meet and have wife that is over 6 foot tall even if she was 10 foot tall would be good also. let me know any one!

Jan 28 12 - 4:44pm
jamesize

Still looking for that lady who is over 6 foot tall if you are out there write mn1254@yahoo.com

Aug 09 12 - 5:59pm
katie

Hey everyone. I am 17 & 6 ft tall ; & im very self conscious .. & it is hard for me in school and stuff. So does anyone have advice for me ?

Aug 30 12 - 10:09am
Kendall

much love for tall women. Im 5 foot 10, single, professional man in New Jersey USA, hoping to meet a 6 foot tall woman to love and cherish.

Sep 10 12 - 6:30pm
Ron

I met the finest, most wonderfully special woman of my dreams online here about 3 months ago. She currently lives in London U.K. and I , in the USA. We have fallen deeply "in love" with each other and have spent literally thousands of hours messaging each other on Instant Messenger! We already know each other than most couples ever will! Anyways, she is 6' -3" and beautiful. I am 5'-9" man. I have always LOVED very long legs on a woman and she is the woman of my dreams!! She is coming to the states here very soon, and we are getting married! She loves my presonality and who I am....I love her for the same reasons and...her very long preciously sexy legs!! mmmm!!!