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Offensively Tall

January 25, 2008

So, one of my favorite parts of walking around in a big city like this one is inadvertently listening to other people’s conversations while you are just trying to walk somewhere.  Last night as I pushed through the revolving doors into Ogilve station I heard two guys having the following conversation:

“You remember her, she played Basketball?”

“Basketball?  Wash she offensively tall?”

At this I perk up, curious as to what actually constitutes offensively tall.  Is 5’9″ mearly in poor taste?

The first guy goes on. “Well I’m about five-eight. I think she was probably five ten-eleven ish, maybe six foot.”

“So, yeah.”

At this I want to look over at the guys (who were standing not even a foot away from me as it was rush hour) and say “Uhm, was she about as offensively tall as I am?  Because that would make her six foot.”  But I restrained myself long enough to learn that she also had brown hair and brown eyes just like me.  If it weren’t for the fact that I suck so much at basketball my university considered paying me NOT to play the sport I would have been really creeped out.

Anyway, I just found the phrase “Offensively Tall” really interesting, because I do think that some guys are personally offended by the tallness of women.  As though these women were tall just to make them feel inadequate. These women are  breaking the rule Man=Tall Woman=Short.  How RUDE!  And though most guys seem to take tall chicks in stride at work, that doesn’t mean they would date them.  (Caveat to this, really short guys do not seem to care either way.)

Interestingly enough men who feel really threatened seem to lie about how tall they are.  Though perhaps they just did this in college when they were young and impressionable.  During that time I had several conversations where I had to dispute the claim that I was “at least 6’4″ made typically by guys who said they were 6′ tall and were actually about 5’8.”  Sadly, lying does not make you taller OR manlier.

But it is not just men who are insecure about Man=Tall scenario.  As part of my numerous wedding related experiences I have spoken with brides who went to great lengths NOT to be taller, or even as tall as their Fiance on their wedding day.  (I guess by great lengths I mean forgoing amazing shoes, but imho amazing shoes are key.)  I often get comments from other women when I wear heels about my “confidence” in being a tall girl wearing heels.  I don’t really see what’s so confident about it, if I don’t wear heels I look like a shlub, but if I do I am well beyond the offensively tall cutoff it seems.  It’s sortof an impossible situation.

I confess that I would be lying if I said that I didn’t buy into these pre-assigned height values as well.  I like to think it is because in my romantic life I do not want to feel like a giantess like I do every other moment of the day.  For a change I would like to feel normal sized  (small is just unrealistic).

Anyway I just think it is interesting how deeply ingrained the idea of men being tall and women being short is in our society.  Just one more thing for people to feel insecure about.


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  1. I’m 5’10”, so I guess I’m merely in poor taste, unless I’m wearing my stacked up boots so I can be WAY offensively tall. I have totally run into the guys lying about height phenomenon.

  2. Might as well go for the boots, if you’re gonna be offensive go all the way! I’m glad I’m not the only one who has witnessed the lying. They must really think we can’t tell the difference between 3″ and 6″ *wink wink*

  3. Maybe they meant offense as in the opposite of defense. Since they were talking about basket ball and defense players would be shorter…

  4. Well… there are only 5 players on a basketball team, are they really divided between offense and defense? Plus, the tone of his voice definetly indicated the other meaning of the word offensive.

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