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By Elle Millar

I was taller than my first grade teacher – in the first grade.

One of the boys in my class asked if I was the teacher.

I was six.

Growing up as an über tall woman is a trial that very few experience. We are the gangly, uncoordinated kids who look like they should dominate in gym class, but are so self-conscious and awkward that we fumble or double-dribble or just collapse in a heap of limbs. We’re the ten-year-old girls whose legs are too long for regular length jeans, and have to shop in adult departments. We’re the kids who are seen as bullies, even if we’re shy and more interested in reading.

I topped out at 6’3” towards the end of the eighth grade. There was no traditional growth spurt in my case: I didn’t spurt up a foot in a single year. I started at an inch taller than my kindergarten classmates, and the gap simply grew.

The strangest thing about having a baby-face at that height is the bizarre attention you receive. I made a new friend in the beginning of seventh grade, and on our way to the mall I turned to her.

“So, um, a lot of people are going to talk to me.”

“Why?”

“…because I’m tall”.

“Hahaha… sure, right.”

She was astonished when she learned that I was right. Old ladies would ask me questions about my age and compliment my posture. Men would ask if I played basketball. Little kids would whisper, and I would feel the eyes of many follow me through the aisles of a store.

There is a strange, uncomfortable feeling of celebrity that accompanies being “different.” Why is it that the public feels compelled to touch, to ask, to invade?

My height was seen by most as an advantage, so there was no hesitation to interrupt my conversations or ask deeply personal questions – even though I was clearly a child.

Now that I am 26, I still get looks and whispers, but am less of an oddity. I’ve discovered that the people who would openly judge or comment on the appearance of an 11-year-old would not do the same to a tall woman at 26. And the few comments I do get are usually from other tall people who call me “shorty” as they pass, tossing me a knowing wink. We giants must stick together, after all.

Now that I’m an adult, I’m battling being a fetish. The majority of men who flirt with me in non-romantic places (not a nightclub, for instance) ask one of two things: how tall I am or what my heritage is. Apparently, I’m good breeding stock. And that is possibly the grossest way to approach a woman.

I was taller than my first grade teacher – in the first grade.

Only 0.4% of American women are above 5’11”.

I’ve got a few inches on them.

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