My boyfriend is an inch shorter than me. That is a declaration. He is six feet. I am six one. He is an inch shorter than me. Okay? Okay.
We’ve been dating a few months, but I only confirmed this fact three days ago. You’re wondering how I didn’t know for sure. I was afraid to ask. I knew he was close to my height, close enough that I wasn’t entirely sure which one of us is taller. I knew I didn’t feel like a giant next to him. I knew those things, and I think a little part of me was scared to find out the facts.
I’ve been over six feet tall for more than a decade now. I’ve been hanging out with friends who were shorter and much shorter than me for most of my life. Strangers tell me I’m tall. Friends joke about my height. I joke about my height. Hugs are a little weird sometimes. And my mom thinks I should stop leaning down in photos… she’s totally right and is possibly the only person who loves me enough to point it out.
Tuesday night my boyrfriend and I were downtown when we asked a stranger to take a photo of the two of us on the Liberty Bridge. I thought, like any other time, it was a standard couple photo. You know the type, side by side with arms around each other. We posed, the stranger clicked a few photos, then we took the phone back to survey the shots.
I hated them. I’m not usually one to hold back on stupid pictures of myself. There are photos of me in ridiculous outfits and making disgusting faces all over the internet. I don’t care about how I look in photos, but this time I did. I cared because I was standing in a really strange posture, sort of leaning down. I commented on the posture and that “my shoulder looks weird”. Russ made a joke about me leaning down to his height.
There it was. The conversation I’d been avoiding.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had the conversation, but not with Russ. In fact, it came up once before with someone else who knows both of us. That person joked about Russ being shorter than me. I was uncomfortable. I was insecure. My feelings were hurt. He didn’t understand why. He said it shouldn’t matter. I couldn’t let it go that day. I asked, earnestly, if I should ask Russ how tall he is. He said no, and something like there’s no point in bringing it up if you’re happy.
He was right. There was no point in bringing it up and I was happy. I let it go. For months, I let it go.
But there I was on Tuesday night, leaning over an iphone with Russ beside me and the perfect opportunity to JUST BRING IT UP. So I asked. I asked how tall he is. He answered, “an inch shorter than you”. Finally, an answer. I launched into the whole explanation of why I asked, because I’m not a person who holds anything in. If something’s on my mind, you’re going to know it, you’re going to know more than you’d like to know. I spilled my guts, about the stupid conversation I’d had before, about the insecurity, about how I really hadn’t thought about it again since that conversation with a friend and for me that is huge. I told him how I’d realized, for the first time in my life, I cared about someone entirely too much to give a damn about height difference. It was just some stupid girl standard that was honestly kind of arbitrary anyway.
That’s when he responded with this: “What, is the guy supposed to be taller or something?”
Honest to god, that was his genuine response to my superficial freakout. A very chill “oh, that’s a thing?” I mean, really. There I was walking down Main Street Greenville, blabbering on about how I’d always felt like I had to only consider men who were taller than me, and this guy was just like… “who cares? I just love you and that’s good enough for me.”
He’s right. Who cares?
Who cares is the immature girl who got so used to people talking about her height that she somehow let it control too much of her life.
Who cares is the girl who saw some sort of societal standard as a hard and fast rule.
Who cares is the girl who’d maybe just never met the right guy, the one who loved her too well to even let her give a damn about silly things like being a little bit taller than him.
And she’s kind of an idiot anyway.