• Lori Turner

I Was Tall Before Old Navy

I Was Tall Before Old Navy by Lori Turner

Years ago, before clothing retailers like Old Navy and Long Tall Sally existed in a land far away lived many tall girls who grew up in a world of ill-fitted clothing and literally standing out or should I say, UP above the rest. If you don’t know who I am talking about search around in that obscure drawer of old photos and find your elementary school class picture. Notice the girl standing in the center of the back row? You have spotted the “tall one”. Every classroom either remembers her or had a friend like her. Kids being kids probably used the word “giraffe” conveniently not during a field trip to the local zoo to describe such a classmate. To give you an idea what it is like being a human giraffe imagine a family member placing your dry clean only clothing into a washer and then drying them. Then, wear those clothes around school and the playground. Just a little embarrassing during those precious years. Tall women today are extremely lucky there are more sizing options for longer lengths in both pants, jeans, and shirts. However, most of these tall sizes sell out quickly or they just don’t fit because let’s face it, they are made in other countries where only the trees grow to such heights. It seems tall women are competing with average-sized women purchasing tall sizes because they as well, cannot find clothing that fits properly. They prefer to order longer inseams and then pay a tailor to alter them for the perfect fit. Unless you are starting a new fashion trend, it is much easier to cut the fabric away then it is to sew it onto the bottom of a pair of jeans. It is ridiculous in 2020 that people still cannot find properly fitted clothing. I have empathy for anyone of different sizes and stature that can’t find something to wear however, I’m pleading with average-sized women to stop buying long inseams! Believe me, us tall girls need them more than you do and my two pairs of jeans and my fifty pairs of shorts hanging in my closet prove it.

When roaming out and about in public tall women tend to notice one another. It is a rare occasion to run into another vertically gifted woman and feel reassured you are not the only one who has experienced wearing the “nerdy pant flood” out in public. Strangers have a tendency to look up at you, then look down to your feet, and then look up at you once again as if they just can’t believe a woman could be that tall. It is an unspoken bond we all share. Sometimes we will go as far as to stop and talk despite not knowing one another to get tips on the best places to shop. Shopping for clothes as a tall person can be very agitating because you can shop all day and not find one thing to buy. That is why many of us turn to shopping online but it also has its challenges.

Recently, while checking my Facebook page I read a post from one of my friend’s Elisa, who happens to be 6’ 2” tall. Her post, along with a picture of pants stacked one top of another read, “Well this is why I don't enjoy shopping. Due to my height, I have to order pants most of the time. It's even better when I order 3 different sizes to try on, yet they are all the same!” Apparently, Elisa ordered from two different clothing manufactures and like most of the time it ended up as an epic fail. This happens quite often and we are constantly “wasting” our time and money hoping clothing fits. Like most “tall one” closets they are full of tops but missing pants! Always on the hunt for the perfect pair of jeans just like trying to spot the elusive African Aardvark!

After reading and seeing Elisa’s post memories of my own tall challenges came to light again. My tween years of ages 11-13 were physically quite challenging because my hands and feet grew to an adult size in comparison to my lanky tween body. My mother told me she would watch me run and play outside as I tripped over my own legs and she prayed that I would one day grow into my hands and feet. Thanks mom it eventually happened! According to my friend Sanna who is also 6’ tall, she would hunch her back over so she could hear what others were saying below her. So many of my fellow “tallies” had trouble dating. Boys are supposed to be taller than girls. Not in Elisa’s, Sanna’s and my world. School dances didn’t happen for me because not only was I 3 inches taller than the majority of the boys I was painfully shy. Not a good mix for a high school teenager wearing those short nerdy flood pants. My average-sized friends would always say how lucky it is to be tall and thin but it never resonated with me. I do have to say the happiest day of my life is when capri type pants came into style. The gods must have been listening that day.

Thank goodness for Elisa and Sanna because life can be a lonely place if you don’t have an outlet to share with others in similar situations. I believed for many years I was the only tall person in my high school that felt awkward and out of place due to my clothing looking like it had been in the drier for several weeks. To add insult to injury I was painfully shy, my self-esteem was in the toilet during high school. According to Dr. Patricia Keith-Spiegel a social scientist who wrote a piece for the blog “The Tall Society” https://thetallsociety.com/awesome-advantages-of-being-a-tall-girl/ it isn’t uncommon that during the teenage years your height has a direct correlation to your well-being and happiness. Tall people, according to Dr. Keith-Spiegel are very powerful without making an effort because they receive immediate attention just for their stature. Maybe that is what I was feeling. All the eyes were on me when all I wanted to do was be like my average-sized friends who in turn, wanted to be just like me. It is a crazy world we live in where it seems like no matter what our size or height, we all want the same things. We want to be accepted for who we are and at least find some clothing that fits. I was tall before Old Navy made long inseams and I survived and you can too.

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