‘Oi look it’s the BFG!’ ‘God, she’s fucking grim.’ Thus the insults thrown at my friend in Cellar by two polite gentlemen. And you think heightism’s not a thing…
Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dumber weren’t exactly being comedic geniuses here (surprising, I know); ‘fucking grim’ might have been a new insult, but at 6’2″, she is no stranger to comparisons with Roald Dahl’s fictional giant.
These were not the only comments about her height she received that night – two girls ogled at her and made brainless ‘You’re so tall’ remarks. While their comments weren’t malicious, it’s exhausting for your height to always be the distinguishing factor. Even to my friends at home who have never met her, she’s ‘the really tall girl you’re always tagged in photos with’.
In everyday life, her struggle as a tall lass is real: she is forever occupied with the largely unsuccessful quest for a man taller than her; her Topshop jeans never reach beyond the mid-calf region (an unintended Capri pant you might say); she suffers a cricked neck any time she braves the low-beamed ceilings of the Turf Tavern; she’s charged a tenner extra for a leg wax (‘You’ve got more surface area, love’).
Every day she is plagued with constant reminders about her height, so she could do without random (often drunken) remarks from complete strangers, especially ones comparing her to a big-eared, bald, lumbering, albeit friendly, oaf.
My mate was by no means passive in the altercation with the two idiots in Cellar. My Big (now not so) Friendly Giant got sassy, put down her snozzcumber for one moment, and marched over to the men in question. The confrontation admittedly didn’t achieve much: one of the men, upon seeing her approaching, immediately scampered off, and the rabbit-in-headlights left behind could only muster up a ‘Oh yeah… oops… sorry…’. The contrast between the loud and confident ‘Oi look it’s the BFG!’ and the quiet and timid apology, it’s telling. The men didn’t expect the BFG to react, hence their pitiful and cowardly response.
My friend could confront the man who made the rude BFG remark, but to answer back to the daily, inane, but not ill-intended, ‘Wow, you’re so tall’ comments, would risk sounding over-sensitive. The remarks are an expression of surprise at the sight of a woman 10 inches above the average, rather than examples of discrimination. Prejudice based on her height is fortunately rare. That doesn’t mean comments about it don’t make her insecure, whatever the intention. The ease with which people make jokes about height without any qualms proves this is an ‘ism’ that needs to be taken seriously.
All this chat about isms at Oxford and yet we’re still missing the one that truly stands out from the crowd…