Opinions, Column

The Plight of Being Tall

Many consider being vertically gifted a benefit. Tall people can see over various obstacles, they can reach objects on top of things, and generally speaking, have a strong presence. The advantages of being tall are fairly obvious, and are observed by those of all heights. While these pros are undisguised, the various cons of being tall aren’t as blatant. The negative aspects of being tall are subtle, and usually overlooked by those who don’t experience them. That being said, being the tall, whiny, and hopefully slightly humorous person that I am, I am excited to present to all of Boston College the difficulties of being tall.

The health hazard intrinsic with being tall is clearer than other possible cons, especially threats to the head. With being tall comes a multitude of imminent head injuries. Off campus basement parties with low ceilings and even lower pipes provide a source of endless weekend pain. Bunk beds may give you space for “so many activities,” but for tall people, bunk beds also give less space for more headaches. A BC-related peril is found at Corcoran Commons. The conveyor belt that takes dirty plates is a frequent perpetrator of head damage. The low metal bar means that while leaning forward to place plates on the sliding trays, a tall person is simultaneously putting their head in harm’s way.

Head injuries aren’t the only inconvenience to those with great height. Another major difficulty for us involves merely sitting down. Many situations in which tall people are sitting are incredibly uncomfortable. Taking large lectures provides us with a painful dichotomy. On one hand, we can sit comfortably and place the fold-out surfaces on our laps. Naturally, due to our long legs, the surface rests at an angle and forces us to take notes on a slant. The other option is to position our legs so that the desk can rest parallel to the ground. So in these lectures, a tall student is forced to either write on a 45-degree incline, or bust out a split in order to write on a flat surface.

Along with taking notes, we have to deal with the social convention of calling “shotgun” for car rides. Whatever higher power invented “shotgun” probably wasn’t tall, because sitting in the back is a major bummer. Airplanes serve another medium through which tall people are punished via the act of sitting. Unless we’re given the fortune of an aisle seat, we are in for a painful ride. The inside seats don’t provide enough space for our legs, especially when the passenger in front is intent on rocking back and forth, incessantly smashing our knees in. For whatever reason, this is a surprisingly common occurrence.

Being too tall provides plenty of unobserved problems. I’m sure many have been to amusement parks when they were young, and couldn’t get on a ride because they weren’t tall enough. This isn’t that bad, because chances are in a couple of years you’ll grow and be able to ride that coaster. For those of us that pass the “too tall” line, we’re doomed to a life void of the adrenaline rush courtesy of roller coasters. We may shrink a couple inches in old age, but by then the thrill of a roller coaster isn’t nearly as appealing.

Showering also proves a challenge, especially when you’re taller than the shower head, and for whatever reason that shower head can only point downward. As a result, we’re forced to crouch down to clean our hair, and with standing up comes the risk of yet another head injury.

A final proportion-related hindrance comes with shopping for clothing. For whatever reason, clothing designers seem to be under the impression that a prerequisite for having long legs is having a wide waist. And with shopping for shirts, there are even more variables that cause problems. It seems that when browsing shirts, we must choose between accurate sleeve length, correct width, or good shirt length. Never can the trifecta be achieved.

The imposed responsibility that comes with being tall is overwhelming. A lot of people have certain expectations of tall people. I know it’s hard to believe, but not everyone above six feet tall is the next LeBron. I’m awful at basketball. I know nothing about the sport. I’m not even sure if LeBron is a basketball player, to be completely honest. And I definitely cannot dunk. There’s the responsibility of locating friends in crowded situations. Just because we are on a higher visual plane doesn’t mean that we can locate a friend that is lost in a group of thousands of people. The only thing I see from my vantage point, is the stressed out faces of other tall people, looking for other shorter people, in the same herd.

A final expectation of tall people is that they enjoy having others on their shoulders. This specific instance is most common at concerts, or sports games. If you can’t see over the tall person in front of you, why not climb on top of them? That’s a reasonable line of logic. Unfortunately, some of us tall folk can barely support our own weight, let alone the weight of another human being jumping up and down on top of us.

I’m not saying that every tall person dislikes being tall. There are plenty advantages being tall. I just wanted to highlight some of the burdens tall folk carry, whether it be the constant threat to our skulls, how difficult sitting down can be at times, or the literal burden of another human on our shoulders. A lot of people are envious of those that are tall. But being tall isn’t all it’s cut out to be. So for everyone who desires height, just remember it’s not all positives.


Featured Image by Francisco Ruela / Heights Graphics


Daniel Gazzola is an op-ed contributor for The Heights. He can be reached at opinions@bcheights.com


September 9, 2015