I like to dress up. I peruse fashion magazines for the latest styles, tearing out pages so I can recreate the outfits. When I shop, I pace through boutiques with a discerning eye; I instantly know whether I want something or not. There’s no hesitation. I only need to try it on for size and fit. I wear dresses accented with a cinched belt. I layer on necklaces and accessorize with matching earrings or bracelets. But I wear high heels to be normal. I jam my French-pedicured toes into a pair of size 5, three-inch heels, stand up straight and posture, “There, I am now over five feet tall.”
I find it shocking what women do for beauty. I castigate brunettes who dye their hair blonde. “Don’t cave into society’s ideal of beauty!” I think as I see their roots growing out. Or my friends with natural curls who straight-iron their hair daily—strand after strand. With the burnt smell lingering in the bathroom, I plead, “I love your beautiful curly hair. Let your hair be!” I’ve dutifully taken on the honorary spokesperson role for abused hair.
I like to think of myself as a naturalist, someone who revels in natural beauty. I shun the idea of implants or plastic surgery even though a friend—a dermatologist—pleads with me to consider her free botox injections. I believe in aging fearlessly and letting nature take its course. I’ll consider getting my teeth whitened, but that’s as far as I’ll go.
Everyone has their distinct beauty regimen, the way they dress, the way they present themselves. They want to look better, they want to be groomed. I’m guilty of the same. I, too, have sat for hours at a time for manicures and pedicures. That’s relaxing, that’s fun. I’ll even lie down for a Brazilian wax—not relaxing, not fun.
But while I do those things for beauty, I actually wear high heels, not to look better, but to be normal. I think of myself as a dwarf. I’m not technically one, but I am really short. I think the PC term is ‘short statured.’ Everyone is taller. Even kids are taller than me. I try to stay away from big kids as much as possible—because their height at a young age accentuates how short I am at a big age. It sucks being 4’10″ in a crowded movie theater or a jam-packed concert. In amusement parks, I cross my fingers that I make it over the height hurdles for roller coasters. People will look at me and call me petite, but that’s just a nice way of saying I look like a midget. Aside from barely being able to see above the dashboard of my car, there are some perks to being this small, but I can’t think of any right now.
I’m particularly self-conscious at work where everyone on my team is at least one foot taller than me. Standing around with my team, our management, or a group of investors, I am completely out of their line of vision. During post-meeting banters, I feel like I need to jump up to get someone’s attention. I’m down here! I sometimes wonder if others get enough air up there in that stratosphere. Maybe that is the one perk to being short statured. I’m surrounded by the bulk of the air molecules; I breathe better.
This trait brings out the worst in me because I lie. I don’t tell people my actual height. I simply say I’m five feet. I figure I wear high heels all the time that I probably am always at least five feet when people are asking me. They simply ask, “How tall are you?” I interpret that to mean at that very moment. At precisely that very moment, yes, I’m more than likely wearing heels and am five feet tall. Now if they qualified the query, “How tall are you without shoes, without your heels…” Then I might have to lie and still say five feet. 4’10″ is just so un-normal and substandard.
When walking hand in hand with my first boyfriend, a big guy at 6’3,” a homeless man on the street looked up and commented, “tall…short.” The disparity between me and my boyfriend at the time could not have been more apparent. I was self-conscious and even more self-conscious with random people pointing it out. So I did what I could, stepping it up with heels—anything to reduce the height difference. I’ve become so used to heels, I feel awkward wearing slippers at home. On weekends, I’ll forget and continue to walk around in heels. No big deal.
I feel like one of Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters. I can jam my toes into that glass slipper, but it’s never going to work out in the end. I’ll never be normal in a crowd. But even Cinderella had to work hard to get her happily ever after. And so I continue…painting my nails, shaving my legs, wearing my favorite pair of bright red patent leather stilettos. I’ll keep doing what it takes to look good, feel good about myself, walk a little taller, and be that much closer to normal.