Tall Women in Fiction, do they exist?
I love reading, watching films, playing video games but I can’t help but feel they missed something out…
I’ve been reading a lot of the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, and I have to say it’s a compelling read, full of broken, but amazing characters, characters that have a lot of depth, the story is so well written I have read 5 of the books in the last 3 weeks! But one thing I noticed was that it seems all the females are below 5’6”. I maybe wrong and the males in the books might just be stupidly tall (I know Rowan is), but it got me thinking, where are all my fellow tall ladies at?
It also got me thinking if there were any women in fiction and media who were taller than 5’ 6”, so I asked around and did some research;
Celaena Sardothien, for example, the main character in the ToG novels stands about 5’6” (ish she's a fictional character so it varies from source to source) as do some of her fellow female court members.
Lisbeth Salander, from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a tiny 5 feet tall and even Katniss Everdeen of the popular Hunger Games franchise is 5' 5" (in the film she is 5'7"). Éowyn one of the few female characters in Lord of the Rings is described as “tall” but no where near as tall as the men of Rohan.
My point? Why am I even doing this? Surely having women as the main protagonist is enough. But I am 5’ 10”, my eldest daughter is towering 6 foot tall. I grew up in the 80s I was lucky I had awesome parents who encouraged me and my sister to actively take an interest in lots of things. Mine for example were 80s cartoons such as She-Ra and Jem and the Holograms (OMG the toys <3) But it all seemed to be very male dominated. And when my daughter was growing up in the 90s and early 00s, there was a distinct lack of taller than average women in fiction and media, and it got me thinking who could today’s taller-than-average girls look to for representation in fiction and media?
Now, I’m defining “tall” as above average for a young women, about five foot nine inches, the national average depends on the country but in the UK the average height of a woman is 5’4”, so 5’ 9” would be classed as tall for a UK woman. I looked online for sources, googled my way through a plethora of websites to look at height differences for women in the media and in fiction.
The first tall lady that comes to mind is Wonder Woman, standing at 6 foot (it’s increased over the decades) she is the epitome of Amazon height, and above that she is kind, empathic, generous, graceful, strong, and elegant. You see it’s ok to be tall and feminine, but for some reason tall women in media, films especially, tend to be portrayed as either the villain or on the masculine side. And that’s ok on occasion, but does it have to be ALL THE TIME?!
Kassandra, one of the main characters in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, is shown to be much taller than her other female counterparts, and yet she is strong, powerful beautiful, and I only wish she could be seen by younger women and girls to see that if you are tall you can be all of those things. (The game is rated an 18, and for good reason!),
I absolutely ADORE Gwendoline Christie, she is the epitome of grace and beauty, but her most well-known roles are where she has played a masculinised female character or as an antagonist with her face hidden! Which is amazing to see someone above the average height to be seen in fiction, but one of these roles isn’t exactly suitable for kids. Off screen Ms Christie owns her 6ft 3 height, she is incredible to watch (I was and still am a bumbling, clumsy idiot) and I hope she doesn’t become typecast.
Another character known for her height is Honey Lemon in Big Hero 6, tall, elegant, and extremely CLEVER. But she seems to be the only one that I could find that is accessible to children.
She-Ra from the current reboot of the popular tv series on Netflix, stands at EIGHT FOOT TALL!. That’s AMAZING.
And lets not forget Xena: Warrior Princess, she is the same as me at 5 ft 10 inches. Strong, and brave, she is amazing, and I won't hear anything else.
So what’s my point? My point is, there is little to no representation for those young girls who are taller than most. They maybe (and I’m talking from personal experience here) feel the need to slouch, curve their shoulders so they don’t seem as tall or even taller than their male peers. So they don’t get targeted by others for being lanky. But WHY should they be? They need to embrace their height, own it, work with it. Never have I been so in demand when needing something off a high shelf, or to stand taller than someone bugging my shorter friends. But for me, being taller than average means that I am different, and I don’t see that reflected in media and fiction.
I would love to see more positive role models who are tall, I want to see tall ladies doing normal things like sitting and their desks, sitting on the sofa with their legs sprawled over the arms, but also take note that being tall has it’s disadvantages too, banging your head on the bus ceiling, having to stoop to hug your friends.
Why can’t fiction reflect the real life of tall people rather than being personified as the bad guy or even being made into some male counterpart?
Am I wrong? Should we really be having a truer representation in media, should tall women characters be used only as villains or created to look more like a man?
I read an article recently on the struggles of being tall, yeah us lanky ladies might be classed as “striking” and “Amazonian” but, it can often have the opposite affect and can sometimes intimidate men.
Why can’t tall women own their heights? Why can’t we have clothes that fit us? Why does the “Tall” section in the high street clothes shop have to be 1 or 2 items whilst there’s nearly a whole floor dedicated to petite sizes?
What message does this send to girls and young women who are above average?
Should there be a story that shows that actually, yes, it is ok to have a partner that is shorter than you, that yes, it is ok to show a tall woman in a positive role? And yes, it is absolutely necessary to show that tall person leaning on their best friend’s head because that’s what they’re there for.