I married a nice medium guy. But when I stand next to him, I tend to slouch my hips, one up and one down, as to not appear freakish, like a giantess, like a side-show, like a man.
Once, in college, I got into an argument with a man at a swing dancing class. He told me there was no way I was only 5’10”. I said, “Yes, I am.” He said, “No, you’re not.” I pulled out my driver’s license and said, “Look!” He said, “You can still lie on your driver’s license. It’s not like they check.”
Another time in college, I danced with a man who was 6’7”. I felt what I imagine smaller women feel like every day. Normal? Comely? Petite? (Would Gloria Steinem think it’s a sin to want to feel petite? Would Judith Butler?) I did not love this man, though.
As a woman, it is better not to take up space. As a woman, it is good to be small. When I am with little men, this is my problem. When my husband says, “I wish I were taller,” I think, No. You are fine. I am the one out of the range that is considered normal.
When I see taller women walking through the world, I admire them. They are elegant. They are strong. They are not so easily overpowered. I also feel sorry for them. I know how hard it is to find pants that fit. Still, I know how hard it is to feel out of proportion. To feel like your own body is getting in your way.
I have gotten really good at altering the perspective in our selfies. The trick is to stand a little farther back than your husband. You will always look small. On our wedding day, I was worried we were going to spend four thousand dollars on photos that documented our disproportion.
Sometimes, I wonder if people look at the way we dress, the way we style our hair, and pick up on this. Does my husband pouf his hair to make up for that half-inch? Do I wear only the flattest of shoes to diminish our difference?
Would it be more subversive if I wore heels, even though I don’t like to wear heels?
The good things: My husband and I can share clothes. My husband and I can share some shoes. My husband and I only need slight adjustments to the driver’s seat in our shared Toyota. Sometimes, I can grab things that are only slightly out of reach of my husband. Sometimes, when we are walking together in malls or grocery stores or on the street, people will nod at us and say things like “Good for you.” We are subversive. We are subversive. We are subversive. At my best, I feel like a mermaid, long and fluid and draped around my husband in a fine and pleasing way. At my best, giantess sounds like a compliment. At my best, I remember the word “amazon.” At my best, I can practice the verb “to tower.” I can look down my nose at people and feel powerful in my skin. I try not to do this to my husband, though.
The bad things: Shower sex is out of the question. Some kinds of cuddling are out of the question. Once, I had a vision of myself as a voluptuous queen bee, and in a poorly planned joke, I called my husband my “little pollinator.” He did not like that. At my worst, I fear that if my husband loses any weight at all, the world will see me as what I fear that I am: large. At my worst, having more of a body makes me feel like less of a woman.
As a teenager I developed a crush on Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn. I liked the way he looked next to Natalie Portman--statuesque. Like a white Jesus, but taller. I told my friends I wanted a dream guy like Qui-Gon. Long-haired and long-limbed. Together, we would loom. But life gave me my medium husband, nothing like what I thought I wanted, but better.
The good things: Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy. Serena and Dan from Gossip Girl.
The good things: According to Cosmopolitan, “Research suggests that shorter men do a larger share of the housework.” According to Cosmopolitan, “Short men may also earn a larger share of the household income.” According to Cosmopolitan, “Short men are least likely to divorce.”
The good things: I am less likely to be crushed in my sleep. Childbirth may be easier.
The good things: My husband will always have a big personality.
The bad things: Sometimes a half-inch feels like way more than a half-inch.
The bad things: Too often, I forget the privilege of having a young, healthy, functioning body.
The bad things: It’s more like an inch. It’s more like my husband is 5’9 ½” and I’m 5’10 ½”. Turns out, you actually can lie on your driver’s license.
If we can pull this off:
If we can pull this off, our children may be of an average size.
If we can pull this off, our children may achieve my height and my husband’s athletic ability.
If we can pull this off, our children may make us a lot of money and allow for a comfortable retirement.
If we can pull this off, we will let our children subvert our expectations, just like we have done to our own parents, just like we continue to do.
If we can pull this off, we will feel good because we like ourselves, not because we consider ourselves likable.
If we can pull this off, we will not mind when our bellies start to droop, when our bones start to slump, when our skin grows spotted and papery.
If we can pull this off, we will walk through life confidently, another example of “Who cares who you love, so long as you are happy?”
If we can pull this off, we will make it a little easier for the next ones.
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Annie & Jack
Love. Marriage. Teamwork. Art. Offsetting the patriarchal footprint. These are some of the things we're thinking about.