Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Laurel Graham, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sara C. Green, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Friedman, Ph.D.


Embodiment, Size, Bodies, Height, Gender, Femininity


In the United States today, there is a dominant cultural narrative telling us that tallness is desirable and enjoyed by those who experience it. Much of the existing research on height correlates tallness with promotions, higher salaries, and general happiness. However, this research does not take into account the limitations of some of the previous research which tends to accept tall people’s vocabulary of motives at face value as the totality of their experience as a tall person. In particular, tall women tend to have much more to say about their lives as tall women than simply that it has afforded them many advantages. Drawing from interviews with ten women who were of a height 5’11” or taller, I utilize feminist standpoint epistemology to investigate how the experiences of tall women can often differ from the dominant cultural narrative of tallness. My findings indicate that tall women are frequently the subject of unwanted height-related comments that draw attention to their tallness, creating and reproducing a state of self-consciousness related to their height. This self-consciousness is reinforced by social infrastructure, heteronormative gender expectations, and othering in the form of harassment and bullying. The tall women in my study learned to negotiate and avoid their height in situations that caused them discomfort, yet eventually accepted their height as a part of their identity after overcoming adversity in their childhood and youth. My research shows that the experiences of tall women are significantly broader than contemporary research discusses, and that height has a much deeper impact on self-perception than has previously been acknowledged.