13 problems faced by every tall Filipina
Being tall in the Philippines comes with disadvantages. I am a 5’8” woman in a country where the average height for females only skims five feet.
Filipinos are the second shortest Southeast Asians, surpassing Indonesians by merely two inches. The average Filipino male stands 5’3″. While Filipinos desire to be taller, as indicated by Star Margarine and Cherifer ads and our national obsession with basketball, it’s not always fun being taller than most of the population.
1| When people call you big instead of tall.
Err on the side of caution by never telling a girl “Ang laki mo naman!” For some tall girls, this is just a matter of semantics. Those of us who do bother about semantics know there’s a difference between big, which refers to size or body type, and tall, which refers to height and is the more preferred word to be described with. If you’re feeling extra nice, why don’t you call the tall girl in your life “statuesque”? She’d take that as a compliment.
2| Getting mommy roles.
Remember when you had to roleplay in high school? Your petite classmate wears pigtails and voila, she gets to play the daughter by virtue of being small and cute. But you, as a tall girl, are automatically given the mommy (or the tita!) role. Why is this? Do we look more authoritative? More womanly? More mature? Maybe. But getting asked to play an adult because you’re a tall teenager only reinforces stereotypes about age and appearance. Do not Renee Zellweger us. Or any woman. At all.
3| “Do you play basketball?”
Why do Filipinos assume that someone’s height is correlated to someone’s interest in balls? I mean, sports. It seems that the taller you are, it’s more likely that you’re part of the varsity team. You know, basketball, volleyball, tennis, golf, football. Yes, some of us excel in athletics, but some of us are deeply passionate about stuff that having nothing to do with balls. Like food blogging or playing the piano.
3| Being asked to stay at the back of pictures.
Several of my class pictures from school look like this: the teacher sits at the middle, on the front row, while I look miserably at the camera. I am standing behind her, so my face is partially obscured by her head. If I could redo those pictures, I would. I’d tell the photographer that I can stand in a picture anywhere I damn well please. Should someone complain about a tall girl blocking their view, all she has to say is “I’m not blocking your view. I AM the view.” Cue hairflip.
5| “Why are you so tall?”
This question merits no definite answer, but here are some reasons explaining our tallness: We are, in fact, descended from Bernardo Carpio, meaning we have giant blood and would totally hit it off with Hagrid if we ever meet in real life. Okay, that sounds unsavory. The thing is, us tall girls have been on a steady diet of food cooked in Star Margarine since we were infants. We douse our bodies with Cherifer every night. (We don’t just drink it.) Also, our shelves are stocked with Growee. We jump 56,932 times every New Year’s Eve. We are genetically mutated humans. How about, we are simply the product of tall parents? The short of it is—see what I did there—being asked why we’re “so tall” can make us feel freakish. So avoid asking it. We can choose to ask you, “Why are you so average?” But we don’t, because we have manners.
6| Commuting can be uncomfortable.
As a tall girl, sitting near the entrance of a jeepney can annoy fellow passengers. Your legs effortlessly obstruct the entrance, hence preventing people from quickly going in and out of the vehicle. Pro tip: choose a seat near the driver. This, however, comes with a huge disadvantage, and that’s no other than the act of exiting the jeepney itself. The farther you’re seated from the entrance, the longer it will take you to walk/duck between the seats. And you will also be more likely to bump your head on a light fixture. When riding a bus, a van, or a plane, expect legroom to be compromised. Tricycles aren’t very tall-friendly either: they were created with average-sized people in mind. Stepping out of a tiny tricycle can sometimes look like a scene from a slapstick comedy.
7| People who measure themselves against you. And use you as shade.
Obvious or discreet, this behavior has to stop. Quit tiptoeing around us, please. We are not scales or height charts. And if you don’t want to get sunburn, carry an umbrella and step away from our shadow.
8| Ironically, you are the default payong holder.
Sometimes you have to share your umbrella with people who still haven’t gotten the hang of living in a tropical country. As a tall girl, it’s your duty to hold the umbrella while your friends huddle around you like a tree. Either do it out of the goodness of your heart, or let everyone suffer because you’re tired of being the payong holder.
9| Dating, a.k.a. the considerable lack of tall gentlemen.
The average height of a Filipino male is 5’3″. The dearth of tall—let alone, dateable—males is a fact lamented by tall girls everywhere. Yes, height doesn’t matter yadda yadda, but some of us are just genuinely attracted to men we can literally look up to. When you tell us about a potential date, the first thing we ask is “Is he tall?” instead of “What does he look like?” or “Does he have a job?” We can’t help it. We cling on to the hope that this tall potential date likes tall girls, too. Seeing a tall guy dating a petite girl is tantamount to heartbreak. We want to be happy for you short pretty girls, but can you please avoid dipping into our shallow dating pool? Thanks.
10| We can’t help but look down on people. Literally.
We also get flustered in crowded places, like malls. We’re afraid that we might step on people’s toes. Or toddlers. Why are there so many toddlers running loose at the mall? And because we have a longer stride, it feels like everyone walks soooo slow.
11| People have strong opinions about your clothes.
“Is that a dress or a blouse?”
“The tag says it’s a dress. So technically, this is a dress.”
“But it looks like a blouse.”
“Wait, are you wearing heels?! You’re already tall. Stop wearing heels.”
Nobody likes being told what to wear. If we want to wear heels or hybrid dress/blouses, so be it.
12| Shopping is more expensive.
Because most local brands don’t carry our size. Shirts look like crop tops. Shoes don’t fit. (Well, there are big shoes, but how come the smaller sizes have cuter designs?) Pants barely reach our ankles. While not all of us buy clothes at local shops, it would be nice if Filipino boutiques and department stores actually have a tall girl section.
13| You stand out from the crowd.
On days when tall girls feel like being incognito, in a movie theater for instance, she hates the fact that she sticks out like the head of a rusty nail. A tall girl can slide down her seat, but doing that for the duration of a feature-length film can ruin her posture. Height easily commands attention. That’s why tall girls kept being called by teachers in class.
But standing out from the crowd isn’t always a bad thing, is it?