One day I noticed my son walking with his shoulders hunched forward and his head hanging down. I asked him what was wrong. He told me, "Nothing". I knew what it was, though, because that was me once upon a time.
When I was much younger, I used to stick out like a sore thumb. Most of the other kids in school were smaller in stature and then there was me: the one giraffe in a room full of penguins.
My mother noticed that I was starting to feel bad about myself as early as the age of seven. She wasn't having any of that, so she enrolled me in dance class. My teacher was Ms. Judy and she was a task master in that dance studio. If she so much as thought you weren't going to stand up straight, she'd reem you a new one in front of the entire class. Even though Ms. Judy was tough on us, she helped build my confidence. Because of that class, I felt a little better about my long neck and legs and stopped trying to hide them so much. To this day, I receive compliments on my posture and the way I carry myself. Ultimately, I have to thank my mom for that. She saw her little girl trying to be like everyone else and she knew I was meant to stand out.
As I got older, and kids got meaner, I was still teased about being so tall. It didn't help that I had a weight problem through most of middle school so I felt like I was just huge all around. I was the butt of many jokes and relentlessly made fun of by the boys in school. What does that do to a young girl's confidence? It shatters it. I'll tell you something, though. I never hung my shoulders or tried to pretend to be someone I wasn't. That, too, earned ridicule, but guess what? The opinions of other people don't matter. Don't get me wrong, it took me a long time to learn and accept that. At the time, I developed a bit of an obsession with food and exercise which took me into a rather unhealthy period of my life because I was focused on how I looked to other people. Now that I'm in my forties and have a wealth of life experience behind me, I eat well and exercise for myself because I like how it makes me feel. The guy who likes or dislikes my height and muscles is not important because, at the end of the day, I'm alone with me and guess what? I like who I am.
I've been asked before if my height affects my dating life. Well, I'm recently divorced, so I can't speak to dating as a 42-year-old single woman. It obviously didn't affect my ability to meet someone, get married, and start a family, though. Prior to getting married, every single man I met (including my ex-husband) was shorter than me, at least by an inch or two. The men that I ended up dating for any significant length of time embraced my height, encouraged me to wear heels, and walked proudly next to me. It wasn't only my height that drew past partners in, though. I'm funny, I'm compassionate, I'm intelligent, I'm independent, I'm honest, and I'm loyal. So, assuming men who are attracted to tall, independent, amazing women who could kick their ass if necessary still exist, I'm sure I'll be fine.
So, if you or your daughter or your son is self conscious about an outward appearance, here's your reminder that being "attractive" doesn't just come from how you look. Of course, I encourage you to stand up straight, put your shoulders back, be healthy, and take care of your body because we only get one in this life time.
Just remember that true beauty comes from who you are and the love you give. Not your height or your weight.
To quote John Mayer: "If you're pretty, you're pretty, but the only way to be beautiful is to be loving. Otherwise, it's just 'congratulations about your face'."