What Does it Feel Like Being Tall? Is it Annoying or Just Right?

Surgery | Written by Joshua Leaf | Updated on January 28, 2022

If you ask a hundred people, “What does it feel like to be tall?” you’ll get a hundred different answers. Though many think being taller is always better, people’s perceptions surrounding their differentiating height differ – some think it’s great, while others believe it’s more of a pain!

Here are some common points we’ve gathered from tall people’s personal experiences that should paint a picture of how being tall really feels.

The Difficulties of Being Tall

Not fitting into everyday things and getting tired of people’s repetitive questions encompass most of the hardships of great height. Some might have other problems, too – especially if they’re incredibly tall!

Can’t Fit Comfortably Into Vehicles

Because of their larger stature, tall people often have trouble fitting into things like clothes, cars, airplanes, or people!

Do your legs get cramped on a plane from the lack of legroom? This problem compounds for tall people since someone who’s 6’2″ will need considerably more legroom than a person who’s 5’9″. This lack of room leads to tall people getting squished and unable to sleep from the discomfort on long flights.

The same goes for cars – most car manufacturers don’t build cars to fit a very tall person comfortably. Most have to push the seat back to its limit, and some can still not sit correctly, especially in smaller cars.

For very tall people, their heads might touch the roof of the car, too, which means they’d have to lean the whole ride!

Hard to Find Clothes and Shoes

Anyone who doesn’t fall around average height, which is 5’9″ for men in the US,[1] will have trouble finding clothes. For very tall people, pants never reach their ankles, and most shirts turn into crop tops.

Even shirts that are long enough are so broad that they fit like tents. Many people above 6 feet have to get custom-made clothes, which can get very expensive.

Since tall people also tend to have larger feet, they have a lot more difficulty finding shoes that fit and often have to settle for a pair they don’t like or risk going barefoot.

Heightism – People’s Biases

Heightism isn’t exclusive to short people. Though tall people might not get bullied for it, people ask them the same questions all the time (like the title of this article!), which can get tiring.

Imagine people interrupting every conversation you have with questions like “Are you a basketball player?” or “Are you a model?” While it might be flattering at first, you’d be exhausted pretty fast. 

Unfunny jokes like “How’s the weather up there?” quickly get old as well, especially when they’re made for the 10th time that day. These are much more common in school when tall kids are likely to tower over other kids, leading to them not enjoying school.

Which goes to say, being tall can feel like a burden to some. 

Everything’s Built for the Average Person

Many tall people have to duck under doors which tend to be 6’6″. [2] The same goes for showerheads – those who are very tall must bend down just to shower and sometimes can’t see their faces in bathroom mirrors.

Most beds and blankets aren’t built for them either, so their legs stay dangling and uncovered. Even using gym machines can be a chore as they have to adjust exercises to fit the device. If you were really tall, you’d be hitting your head on almost everything!

Besides this, people frequently ask taller folks to reach the top shelf, so tall people end up doing more heavy lifting even though it’s a minor nuisance. 

The Upsides of Being Tall

For all its hardships, being tall can be quite the confidence booster and comes with many benefits.

Bird’s Eye View at Concerts and Outings

Tall people never have to worry about standing or sitting behind a tall person and not being able to watch a concert or a show. They are the tall ones shorter people complain about since they can’t see over them! Imagine the feeling of being tall and watching a concert with 0 obstructions or people blocking your view…now that’s what we call premium entertainment and almost counts as a VIP section! 

Sports

Height gives players a definite advantage in sports like basketball, volleyball, swimming, and sprinting.[3] Since longer legs generally means longer arms, longer limbs allow taller players to maneuver around others, reach a ball faster, and cover any distance in a shorter time.

In sports like bodybuilding, being shorter is better because compact bodies fill out more with muscle than larger bodies at the same weight. The same goes for horse racing and motorsports, as a shorter height lowers the body’s center of gravity and helps with balance.

In this regard, being tall can feel like a real competitive advantage, but it all depends on the sport.

Trust and Respect

People generally see taller stature as more authoritative and dominant in social situations, so they command more respect.[4]

This bias is also evident because more tall people are in authoritative positions than short people,[5] and tall men are assumed to have a higher status based on their height.[6] Taller height breeds trust and respect even without any supporting qualities.

Confidence

Women generally find taller men more attractive – on average, they prefer a man 21 cm taller than them. [7] Besides, tall people earn 10-13% more than their shorter counterparts with every extra centimeter of height.[8] So it’s easy for taller individuals to not understand the disadvantages or how it feels to be short in a height-centric western world. 

Feeling more attractive and financially secure leads to a more confidence, which means a 6’3″ man is much more likely to have good self-esteem than a man who’s 5’5″. On the contrary, there’s many short men like Lil Wayne standing at 5’5 and have all the confidence in the world so there’s surely outliers. 

And rappers aren’t the only ones, even Wee Man or Jason Acuna from Jackass stands at 4’4 tall and seems to have a fair amount of belief in himself. To see other short and tall celebrities’ alike, check out our height comparer tool to see what you, or they look like next to each other.

So is Being Tall All That Great?

It depends on a person’s individual experience! Some might hate the troubles of finding clothes, fitting into vehicles and people’s pointless questions. But others might enjoy the flattery and have the upper hand in some sports like basketball.

Many minors don’t like being tall because most of their peers are much shorter than them, but they’ll likely grow to love it as their classmates catch up with them.

In the end, being tall can feel like a blessing or a curse depending on the individual. Being around average seems to be the key to avoiding most discrimination and annoyance. Some tall people may even wish they were shorter, and many short people want to be taller. Surgery is an option for getting taller or shorter, but consult a healthcare professional before seeking such a solution.

References

[1] Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). FastStats – Body Measurements. CDC.  https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/body-measurements.htm 

[2] Rustica. (2019, December 27). Standard Door Size | Standard Door Height and Width. Rustica. https://rustica.com/standard-door-sizes/

[3] Sachare, A., & Frazier, W. (1998). The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Basketball. Alpha Books.

[4] Stulp, G., Buunk, A. P., Verhulst, S., & Pollet, T. V. (2015). Human height is positively related to interpersonal dominance in dyadic interactions. PloS one, 10(2), e0117860. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4342156/ 

[5] Zaccaro, S. J., Gilbert, J. A., Thor, K. K., & Mumford, M. D. (1991). Leadership and social intelligence: Linking social perspectiveness and behavioral flexibility to leader effectiveness. The Leadership Quarterly, 2(4), 317–342. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/104898439190018W?via%3Dihub 

[6]   Blaker, N. M., Rompa, I., Dessing, I. H., Vriend, A. F., Herschberg, C., & van Vugt, M. (2013). The height leadership advantage in men and women: Testing evolutionary psychology predictions about the perceptions of tall leaders. Psychological Science, 16(1), 1358–1369. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1368430212437211 

[7] Stulp, G., Buunk, A. P., & Pollet, T. V. (2013, June). Women want taller men more than men want shorter women. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(8), 877-883. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886913000020

[8] Wang, J., Chen, Q., Chen, G., Li, Y., Kong, G., & Zhu, C. (2020, April 10). What is creating the height premium? New evidence from a Mendelian randomization analysis in China. PloS ONE, 15(4). https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0230555 

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