Most kids have been bullied when they were young; I am no exception. In a predominantly “short” Filipino population, I was called a rather unique alias during my childhood. Not a day went by in which I did not hear the terms “dambuhala” or “higante”. Not only was I tall, I was also extremely big-boned, which meant that even when I got thinner, the lankiness remained. In fact, the I thinner got, the taller I seemed.
Mind you, I was never the model-type kind of tall. In as much as I would have wanted to claim this, I knew from the start that I was not cut out for modeling or becoming a beauty queen- two seemingly common career paths for towering girls such as me. As the years went by, many people especially men, would do a double look and say right to my face “Wow, ang laki!” Or I would hear two men talking, “Pare, lalaki ba yan?” to whom someone will reply “Pare, bakla ata”.
All of this might seem amusing to others, even funny. But if you were the one who got weird stares all the time, trust me- you’d rather have the earth swallow you and totally disappear.
It was not until college when I encountered friends who loved and adored my height that I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, my height was an asset. Could it be possible? That after all these years, the very thing that I have tried so hard for people not to notice is in fact, my greatest weapon? Self-esteem issues ensued and heartbreaks happened. Being a single mom forced me to face many truths, and here is one truth I have come to realize:
The first thing that people will always notice about me is my height. And that is not a bad thing. My height allowed me to carry my young daughter with strength and power, even when I was alone. It is a great reminder of my father, who was as tall as I am. He may be gone, but he is forever in my heart and I see him everyday in me, especially when someone comments that I walk funny because of how tall I am. I have excelled in school and all the companies I worked for because if you are as tall as I am, excellence is not an option but an actual requirement, a sort of a burning emblem that says yes, I have been defeated, but I am standing tall and my height will always be a reminder that I, too can achieve things of great heights. And just like the Amazonian women, my height will always serve as an asset that reminds me that I am just as close to any dream that other people can dream of. Even closer. And that I will soar as high as I can for as long as I can. After all, it comes naturally for me.
P.S: When I met someone 6 years ago, the first thing he did was look into me weirdly. And I thought “Oh no, not again! I really like this guy!” Then he suddenly blurted out “I have always dreamt that one day I will marry someone who was taller than me.” His wife is now definitely 1- inches taller than him – 3 inches, if you count the heels. He proposed to me after two years.