If you’ve ever found yourself floundering on your tip-toes for a book or jar of Nutella, don’t worry, you’re not alone. We recently talked to short girl Jillian about what it was like shopping, dating, and just going to school as a five-foot teenager. Read on for a firsthand account of what little people can do. (You tell ‘em, Gavroche.)
SPARKLIFE: When did you stop growing at the same rate as your classmates?
JILLIAN: You mean when I shrunk? [Laughs] I think at the beginning of middle school eveyone’s kinda on the same level and then certain people start to sprout up. I would look around and I wasn’t the same. So I would say it’s gotta be when I was 12 or 13.
Did people ever have give you nicknames based on your height?
People always called me short, but it was never really a bullying thing. I’ve just always been the short one. I don’t really mind it, but it’s kind of annoying.
What assumptions did people make about your athletic abilities?
Well I’m not only short, I’m really petite. And I’ve danced since I was three years old—I’ve done ballet, I’ve done tap, I’ve done it all. I think that I had the right body type for a ballet dancer, so when I tell people that I dance, they’re like, “Oh, yeah, you look like you’d be perfect for that.” And sometimes I look back and think, “Did I have another choice really?” I couldn’t play basketball, I probably could’ve played soccer...but I think that your body type plays into what you end up doing in some respects.
Did you ever run into problems finding clothes that fit?
Definitely. In high school, I remember shopping with my friends who’d go to the most popular stores and it was easy for them to find jeans that were the right length, but they didn’t fit me. It took awhile to learn which stores I can go to where I can try on most of the clothes. It’s a learning game. And it happens to me all the time with shoes, because my feet are barely a women’s size five. That’s just a pain in the butt, especially after high school and college where you need nice, professional-looking shoes for work. Where do I find those in a size four-and-a-half? [Laughs] Like I’m shopping in the kids section for adult-looking shoes.
Did your height have any weird or annoying impacts on your dating life then?
I haven’t run into anything really, except for the fact that I look really young. And definitely being short doesn’t help me there. I think in high school it was easier for me because I went to a small school and everyone knew each other. But once I got to college where people didn’t know me, it was kinda like, “How old are you?” And, “Wait, you’re in college?” And that’s hard for dating and meeting people, when they look at you right away and think that you’re not even old enough to be in college.
Do you find that all these quirks of being a short teenager still hold true for you now?
They’ve changed since everyone’s matured a little. After high school and college, your height is your height. You are who you are. Everyone’s different, and you’re taught that when you’re five years old, but in middle and high school, people judge people based on the outside. It’s not until you get out into the real world that no one cares what you look like. At least in my experience.
Any advice for short girls in high school right now?
It’s all about being comfortable. You can buy new clothes or buy tall heels to try to fit in, but at the end of the day it’s about what you like and what you’re comfortable in. And for me, I learned through years of trying to fit in by what I wear and how I look that I’m just not comfortable in five inch heels, even if they make me look like more of a normal height. I’d rather wear flats and comfy clothes. It’s about being comfortable in your own body and not playing into what other people think you should look like.
Check out our Interview With a Tall Girl for the other side of this story.
What’s the best/worst part about being short?