I first realized I was short when I was in middle school. In my small Catholic school, our teachers used to line us up by height every day. I was always in the front, tied for first position with my equally tiny friend Damary. Whether we were walking into the cafeteria for lunch, filing into church, or going outside for recess, I was almost always leading the group. The boys would giggle as we took our position and say things like, “Are you guys ever going to grow?” Whatever, they had cooties anyway.
At first, I assumed I would grow to be tall. I thought that by eighth-grade graduation, I would have taken my place in the back of the line with the other long-legged kids in my class. But then, during a weekly visit to my very Italian great-grandma, I realized that she was 4’10, and I started to get worried. Later, I noticed that one of my older cousins, at 5’7, stood towering over the majority of my family. I heard a 19-year-old cousin talking about how she had finally realized she was done growing. She was 5’0. Things started to look bleak.
One day, I came home and complained to my mom about my height. “Will I ever grow?” I wailed to her. “Will I always be in the front of the line of everything?” My mom just smiled and told me the truth: my family is tiny (like a lot of Italian families), and there was no getting around that.
I was devastated at first (my dreams of being a supermodel suddenly seemed ridiculous), but I got over it pretty quickly. For one thing, I enjoyed being called petite. To my younger self, it sounded like “princess” (I have no idea why), and obviously, being a princess was my ultimate goal in life, so there was that. For another thing, I noticed that all of my older cousins who I looked up to were short – and that made it much more cool.
At 14-years-old, I had reached 5’0, and I knew in my heart I was done growing (and I really was). I embraced being short. Not only could I squeeze through crowds better than anyone I knew, but boys were always calling me “cute” and “adorable” and resting their arms on my shoulders. Okay, that last part got seriously annoying after a while, but it was fun when I was younger.
Honestly, I can’t tell you the main reason why I started loving my height – I just accepted that I was always going to be short, and I decided to own my vertically challenged genes instead of resent them. I remember complaining about my height to one of my best friends, who was nearing 6’0. She groaned and said, “Don’t even start. You’re so lucky that you’re tiny. I wish I could shrink to your height.” That day, I realized that the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side” was true. Maybe I was jealous of the tall girls, but maybe those tall girls were jealous of me, too. It was silly to me. Why obsess over something you can’t change?
Don’t get me wrong–there are definitely some annoying things about being short. It’s a little bit embarrassing when eight-year-old kids are towering over me. I always have to ask for help when trying to get something on a high shelf, and for some reason, people always find that really amusing. I also have a baby face, so I’m almost always mistaken for being at least five years younger than I actually am (but I’m told I’ll appreciate that one day).
Oh, and I’m never thrilled when new people I meet feel the need to tell me I’m petite. Example: “Wow, you’re so short! How tall are you?” Thanks for the (rude) reminder, guys, but I do own a mirror. I’m fully aware of my height.
But in the end, I would never trade my height with anyone (and if I really want to add a few inches, I know how to rock a pair of heels). Being short is just a part of who I am–and that might sound corny, but I like to think of it as one of my defining features. It makes me stand out. I’d rather embrace it than hate it any day.
Are you short? Or are you tall? Do you wish you were a different height? Tell us about it in the comments.