Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tall girl on...shoes

Most girls love shoes - some have even diagnosed themselves addicts or declare their devotion a “fetish” - but I am not one of those girls.

For me, going shoe shopping blends the pain of extracting an in-growing toenail with the esteem pummelling of a session with Anne Robinson. I dread it and prefer to go alone.

Being a size 8 (or continental 41) my feet are not freakishly huge and are within the standard size 4-8 range proffered by most stores, but do they stock size 8s? Barely ever.

If I force myself into a shoe shop I normally grab a fistful of possible styles in the hope that one in five might be stocked in my size. The amount of times I’ve sent the assistant off with a batch of bar codes only to be told “We’ve got two pairs in a size 7 but all the others are 5s, would you like to try them?”
Unfortunately no, I learnt when I was 15 that no matter how much you shove and squeeze, an 8 fundamentally won’t fit in a 7. At times I have been tempted to trim my big toe to the same size as my littlest, but have heard toe trauma can affect your balance and I need as much of that as I can get.

New Look and Primark, however, have done wonders for shoe shopping. As every pair is sufficiently cheap to be put on a rack, in pairs, with its arms wide open to shop-lifters, I can avoid the embarrassment of dealing with a small-hoofed assistant.

But that’s just the shopping process. Trying to find a style that doesn’t make you a) 6ft 5” or b) look like you’re wearing a pair of kayaks is a mission in itself.

Pumps are wonderful – petite and pretty and gloriously flat, but they do have a tendency to make bigger feet resemble a bow-wrapped baguette. Heels on the other hand make you feel wonderful (for half an hour until they chew through your epidermis) and legs look fabulous but that stretching thing isn’t an optical illusion. Most glamourous party heels will add 3-4” to 5ft 11” making me see eyeball-to-eyeball with the average basketball player - of which there are sadly few in the UK.

Pointy toes, thank god seem to be "off trend" at the moment because they can turn the longer foot bloody nearly ski-shaped. I can't help thinking I resemble Rosa Klebb, Bond's evil villain in From Russia With Love. She used the extra inch of her pointy toe to conceal a poisoned dagger. I see mine as a handy air pocket that could prevent athlete's foot. Hygienic but not flattering.

So to conclude my rant against the sorrowful shoe, I would like to pay homage to the Ugg boot. When God dropped these soft, stumpy, foot-bears on earth he showed his wondrous power in banishing the blister, improving circulation and making happiness shine all around.

Hugh Jackman wasn't the best thing to come out of Australia after all.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tall girl...on dating

I have lost count of the number of times blokes have told me I'm the tallest girl they've ever kissed. Once or twice it's been the biggest girl they've ever kissed...and they've ended up with a black eye.

Being tall, there is always a fear of appearing "big", "bulky" or, horror of all horrors, "butch". These words can haunt you when you're taller than a lot of men, can share shoes with your male friends and are always handed somebody's dad's wellies when you go for a walk.

Tall for a man is sexy and capable. Tall for a girl can appear bulky and awkward. Fine if you're blessed with natural grace and elegance but if, like most girls (myself included), 1950s deportment classes would have been better left on the school curriculum, it's not easy to pull off.

A fear of appearing masculine is coupled with a fear of all reasonably-sized masculinity having disappeared from the planet. Why is it that tiny girls so inconsiderately go out with the tallest men? My mum is one of them. At 5ft 3", my dad is nearly a foot taller than her which, as I have pointed out, is grossly unfair.

The fact is huge height gaps don't make sense, practically speaking. One boyfriend - who always blundered when it came to thoughtful compliments - once said it was nice not to get a stiff neck from bending down to kiss me. He seemed chuffed not to be needing physio at the time...but the novelty soon wore off and he's now dating someone at least a foot smaller.

I think I could fairly say I've tried various dimensions - smaller, taller, the same height - but nothing beats being made to feel small. Having been tall even as a baby, I've never been described as cute - curling myself in my dad's lap as a child looked dangerously like he was hugging an octopus. So finding a bloke who can comfortably tuck me under his arm or pick me up without slipping a disc has turned into the hunt for the Holy Grail. Walking into a bar of 50 single men I reckon I could filter out 45 of them on height alone - and that's before they've opened their mouth.

The stats are not good, but this isn't a case of outrageous snobbery and unbridled heightism, it is just plain fact. Look at Sophie Dahl and Jamie Cullum - I have ultimate respect for the pair of them enduring endless jokes about their height gap, but I'm not sure I'd have the strength. My 5ft 6" cousin has just married his 6ft wife and I have to admit the wedding photos looked all wrong. Modern, professional, emancipated women should be oblivious to such archaic perceptions but I, clearly, am not. He needed at least four copies of the Yellow Pages to be able to kiss the bride but the wonderful thing is, neither of them are in the least bit perturbed by the height inversion. I envy them.

So, in the meantime, should you happen to stumble upon Michaelangelo's David, dusted off, warmed up and softened a little, registering between 6ft 2" and 6ft 6" (so that I can comfortably wear heels) and in the 25-35 age bracket, please do put him in touch.