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Posted by Lorraine Josey on 15th Feb 2014
It is amazing how often patients I see explain their slouching because they were “taller than the other kids at school”. They slouched toavoid standing out or being teased. This is such a common explanation that I decided to delve a little deeper…
i'm 5'5 and i'm always slouching around my friends because i don't want to seem tall around them.
it's embarrassing to me to be taller than all of them :(
boys never ask me out. and i think it's cause they think shorter girls are cuter.
taller girls barely get asked out where i live :(
and all the guys in my class are still short (like 5'0-5'3).
and even the taller ones still go for the shorter girls..
- exert from post on Yahoo Answers – “How to look less tall”
Breaks your heart doesn’t it?
My daughter Siobhan isn’t tall, but of her two best friends one was tall and the other was short. She’s a little closer to her teenage years then I, so I’ve asked her help in understanding the cause of the pressure.
Siobhan: The world can be a cruel place for a teenager. Kids will pick on anything that makes someone different, and girls can be prone to earlier growth spurts then the boys. This makes them prime targets right at the age they are starting to really care what the boys think.
And it’s certainly not just what their peers say. It is an age where you are constantly worried about how you are seen and how you stack up next to the ideals. How often do you see a girl portrayed as tall in the media? Every Disney princess is a head shorter than her prince, holes are dug for tall actresses to appear the “right” height next to their leading men, and super tall super models are photographed next to girls their own height, so as to not upset the natural order as to what is considered a girl should be.
On top of this incredibly underestimated factor there is what I suppose you would call “empathy slouching”. Because of who my Mum was I always paid more attention to my posture than the other kids at school, but when I hung out with just Michelle (my short friend who DIDN’T slouch) I repeatedly found myself slouching, but not when I hung out with my tall friend Genevieve. I guess in the same way you emulate your peers accents and vocabulary to fit in, I was involuntarily trying to match her height!
Lorraine: I’m sure I don’t need to go into how important it is to develop healthy postural habits and the negative impact of bad posture on growing bodies. Good posture is beautiful and not only portrays success and confidence, it boosts success and self esteem - the best thing your daughter can do to look and feel great is stand gracefully and proud.
1. Get in early. If tallness runs in the family, if you are tall yourself or start to notice your daughter is having a growth spurt perhaps before her peers jump onboard right away and start building a positive mentality around it.
2. Never tease her for her height. Ever. And do not allow other family members to do so. (Siobhan’s note: The men in the family have a big part to play in this. Talk to them about building her confidence about her height)
3.Concentrate on the positives. Tall girls often come with lovely long legs, less struggles with their weight and are better at sport. Clothes fit them well, and with the right posture they can be strikingly graceful.
4. Encourage your daughter to participate in activities where her tallness is an advantage. Sports like basketball and volleyball are not only full of girls her own height, but celebrate and champion it. Dancing also encourages grace and posture and is suited to longer limbed ladies. Note: Pilates and Yoga are great for posture. Get her excited about a class by showing her articles on their other more material benefits, like toning.
5. Be choosey with modelling agencies and classes. Some schools offer deportment and grooming or model training that aims to build confidence in young people, and can be great for a tall girl to recognise the beauty in her height. Some environments however can be quite dangerous and can be damaging. If your daughter is interested in this, ensure you meet with the school and the teacher she will be working with (by yourself) so you can gauge the organisation’s culture. You would be better off enrolling her in a class with confidence building outcomes like professional photos or a show than signing her up to an agency’s books.
6.Teach her how to dress for her height. Tall girls are lucky to have a lot more clothing options at their disposal, but there are things they should avoid if they are self conscious about their height. Casually research this with her without making it a big deal (perhaps by getting a book on dressing to flatter your figure that includes a chapter on tallness), then buy some magazines with her and flick through to find examples of outfits that would flatter her height. For young teenagers especially, it can be hard to get a handle on trends. If possible take her shopping for the outfits or something similar. New complete outfits will make her feel a million bucks. And make sure she has a nice pair of dressy flats!
7. Kids hate their Mum’s nagging them about their posture. If you notice she is starting to slouch the best way to make her understand how it affects her looks is with photos. Work out the most tactful way to do this, but taking one as she stands normally, and one where she is instructed to lift her breast bone up towards the sky and showing her the difference can be powerful.
8. Lead by example. Kids notice a hypocrite. Posture is a fluid thing that most people could improve on. Read other post on this site about how to change your posture for good. Your family is often the first to notice the improvement and it might inspire her.
9. Make sure you aren’t giving her the wrong instructions. “Pull your shoulders back” for example is definitely the wrong way to good posture. See below post on how to adopt good posture.
10. Don’t buy her a laptop. They are murder for posture. Instead try and set her up at a desktop computer that is arranged ergonomically.