June 10, 2016
I am medium. Brown hair, brown eyes, medium height, weight, and shoe-size. My brother is tall, and by tall I mean outside the bell curve. He says he’s six-foot-nine, but my mother thinks he’s closer to six-foot-seven. All I know is that if I stretch my hand as high as it can go, I can just reach the top of his head. Like telling a fish story, when someone asks how tall my brother is, I just say, “he’s this big.”
My sister is short. At four-foot-nine, she is legally a dwarf. People tell me that a legal-dwarf isn’t a real thing, but if you google “dwarf”, they have height maximums. Maybe “legal” isn’t the right word, but I need something to explain that I am not exaggerating.
My siblings have rendered me height-blind: if you aren’t as tall as my brother or as short as my sister, you are just “people-sized.” This has led to a lot of arguments with friends who insist they are tall or short, when clearly they are within normal distribution. It may also explain why my three LTRs were with men who are five-foot-seven, the same height I am. You’re either people-sized, or you're not.
My brother wasn’t always tall—I mean, he was tall-ish, but not the tallest kid in class. He just refused to stop growing. He grew well into his twenties. I always think it was somehow intentional—he outgrew his bullies, he grew so big our parents couldn’t ignore him, he grew until people started looking at him as the one in charge. And my sister wasn’t always short. She just stopped growing one day when her thyroid went on strike and she never fulfilled the potential her foot- and hand-size promised. It was like she just decided not to be a bother and just stopped requiring larger-sized clothing. Me? I was always just medium, but I also didn’t want to stand out. I spent all of high school trying to be Just Like Everyone Else, so maybe my height was also intentional.
My medium-ness is actually height-privilege. Neither my brother nor my sister can help standing out. I always have the option to blend in, to hide out in the back row, to just be another nameless, faceless, fortyish mom-type. I can always find jeans in the proper length. I never hit my head on ceiling fans and I don’t need a booster seat when I drive. No one IDs me when I buy alcohol and no one asks me, “how’s the weather up there.”
It was only recently that I decided that average wasn’t something worth aspiring to. When I realized that maybe blending into the crowd wasn’t some higher calling, I had to work a little harder. Stand up a little straighter. Color my hair and learn to be funny. Maybe if I hadn’t been given the option of being just like everyone else, I would have chosen a more interesting existence.
original cover photo © Kym Parry