These Women Are Embracing Their Stature In the "More Than My Height" Movement
Sisters Amy Rosenthal and Alli Black share why tall women need a place in the body-positive movement.
Amy Rosenthal and Alli Black are two sisters who understand all the caveats that can come with being a "tall" woman. Alli is 5 feet 10 inches and has always struggled to find fashionable, well-fitting clothing. She's also never been able to shop at tall specialty stores because those options tended to be too long.
Amy, on the other hand, has her own set of struggles. "I'm just shy of 6 feet 4 inches, so shopping has always been difficult for me," she tells Shape. "Honestly, my whole life growing up was full of painful memories that made me feel very self-conscious about my height, like the time in middle school when I found out I had to wear men's khakis to my band's concert because nothing else would fit. I had a complete meltdown in the dressing room and remember feeling so uncomfortable in my own skin."
Their personal experiences, along with the realization that the fashion world wasn't catering to tall women of different proportions, led the sisters to launch their own boutique called Amalli Talli in 2014. "We strongly believe that 'tall' isn't solely defined by height and comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and proportions," says Alli. "So we wanted to work together to bridge the gap between tall sizes available at everyday retail stores and what's brought to the table by tall specialty stores." (Related: Why Body-Positive Advertising Isn't Always What It Seems)
Over the past four years, Alli and Amy's business has flourished, but while they've tried to be more inclusive of tall women in the realm of clothing, they felt the urge to do more after a specifically frustrating body-shaming experience. "Last year, while working in New York, a man approached Amy and me at a professional meeting and said, 'What are you like seven feet tall?' loud enough for everyone to hear while simultaneously laughing at us," says Alli. "It's something he did multiple times, making us feel extremely uncomfortable and embarrassed."
So, the sisters decided to write a blog post about the experience on Amalli Talli's website to share how even though they are comfortable and confident with their height, instances like that can still really take a toll on your self-esteem.
"There are so many stereotypes associated with tall women," Amy says. "For starters, it's thought to be a very masculine feature. Boys are raised to be big and strong, while girls are supposed to be cute and petite. That's one of the reasons why tall women find themselves getting looks, stares, and comments. Being super tall as a woman is often thought of as abnormal."
Surprisingly, women from all over the world started reaching out to the sisters, sharing how they related to their experience and hoped that they'd talk more about these issues that tall women face. That's how the More Than My Height movement was born.
"Given the incredible feedback we received, we felt like this was something that needed to become its own thing," says Alli. "So many tall women struggle to feel feminine and we felt that starting a movement that helped them feel supported could help them overcome that feeling."
Even though big noses, armpit fat, and loose skin have all been recognized as part of the self-love, body-positive push, Alli and Amy realized that height hasn't really had its rightful place in the spotlight. "There are so many blogs out there that are geared toward tall fashion," says Amy. "But there really wasn't anything out there about how height can be a source of self-consciousness for women and how some people don't think twice before commenting on it or pointing it out, which can be detrimental for body image."
Alli mirrored these sentiments. "Most of the things I read about when it comes to body positivity are very focused on weight-which is absolutely important and is something so many women relate to-but your height is something you can never change," she says. "No matter what you do, you will always be tall. So for the women who are uncomfortable with being tall, we wanted to create a space that lets them know they're not alone and that there is so much more to them than their height." (Related: I'm Not Body Positive or Negative, I'm Just Me)
Along with creating a supportive community for tall women, Alli and Amy also want to educate people about how, like weight, someone's height isn't something you should comment on. "It's important that we learn to be mindful with our words," says Amy. "You just can't know what someone is insecure about. By calling them out and drawing attention to them, you can make them feel even more self-conscious than they already do."
At the end of the day, More Than My Height is about helping women realize that they're so much more than what they see in the mirror. "While we definitely want to help women embrace their height and feel confident, we also want to help them to realize that they have so much more to give," says Alli. "There are so many physical attributes that make us who we are, but it's the skills that you have to offer the world that truly define you-and that's what you should use to measure your value."