This tall woman certainly wasn’t winning over at the BBC last week
Following the recent launch of Spielberg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s, BFG (Big Friendly Giant), the BBC were looking for tall people and shorter girls called Sophie to go down to one of their live shows for a fun BFG feature. Although my natural reaction was to shy away, I plucked up the courage and put my name forward and this is why;
I’m going to rewind to the New Year, a time which marked yet another phase of reinvention for me. Following a particularly low-point, I was struggling to identify with my old ‘self’ and with my self-esteem running on reserves, I felt lost with the task of creating a new version of me.
I was known for be able to work with the most challenging of clients and yet after nearly a decade of demanding projects as a business & brand troubleshooter (to High Net Worth Individuals and owner-managed businesses), I couldn’t seem to connect with the essence of who I was. I could not give a confident answer to this one simple question — Who are you?
I went back to basics and after several hours, I’d come up with three things that I felt comfortable answering with absolute confidence — “My name is Sallee, I’m over 6 ft tall and I am a woman” OK, so I know this wasn’t my finest brainstorming session but it was a start and at this point, it was all I had so I simply ran with it!
Knowing that with all reinvention comes challenge and with troubleshooting in my DNA, I was conscious of needing an entirely different support system for this one! As Christmas approached, I signed up to one of escape the city’s startup tribes and made a promise to myself; 2016 was going to be My Tall Year, a year where I finally embraced inner confidence and life up here.
One idea linked to another and I started work, creating TALL GUIDES, an empowering global community of tall women. As the only thing connecting us is our height, we all have very different things to offer each other and it quickly gained momentum, attracting an online following of over 5000 women and hundreds of members in our private group, Team Tall. It feels like a positive movement is forming and I’m proud to witness the growing sense of solidarity and the impact a like-heighted community was making in people’s lives (mine included) in such a short space of time.
At first I was unsure but having been shown that this is something tall women want, I’m happy to bring it into reality! Fulfilling my promise and embracing My Tall Year has seen me saying YES to all sorts of random experiences, including a tall person convention in Germany, the National Tall People Day in Holland and now prime time TV. On that timely note, let’s head back to my recent experience at the BBC.
The production team were sent my name, height and social media profiles. I spoke to one of them on the phone; she gave me permission to share on social media and confirmed I was on the show. Later that day, I turned up at their offices in London with three other chaps and headed outside for rehearsals. We rehearsed the pieces to camera and figured out our lines, aside from overhearing a mumbled and uninvited height comment from a guest presenter, I’d temporarily forgotten about my nerves and was having a good time.
Rehearsals were quickly over, the production people had what they needed on camera and we were still milling about when I noticed that the presenters seemed to be uncomfortable with something. From where I was standing, that ‘something’ began to look a lot like me! A reluctant looking woman headed our way, claiming that she was really sorry but they were now only going to use three of us and it was time for me to step down. Shortly after that, one of the guys was also asked to step out and the remaining two were left with the task of ‘letting the girls win’.
Well I’m a girl and I wasn’t winning that day. I saw what I saw and was left with a horrible feeling that the presenters weren’t comfortable standing next to a 6’5 woman (in heels). It didn’t sit well me nor did it sit well with my passion for women empowering women.
I didn’t make the other women look bad, I’m 6’2 and unable to do much about that, apart from maybe adding another 3" or so with heels. If people don’t feel comfortable around me, I believe it says more about them than it does about me and on that day, it was their actions which made them look bad, not me. These were the actions of individuals, the BBC simply facilitated it and by not having a tall woman on prime time television, I reckon they missed an opportunity in the forward thinking department!
Hey, maybe it’s not only the mainstream sized girls who get to win over at the beeb but the society norm ‘short girl / tall guy combo’ that ended up on people’s screens certainly made it feel more like 1956 than 2016!
If you’re not a tall woman, you may not realize the ridiculous volume of uninvited comments we’re subjected to on a daily basis and this isn’t just in the UK, it’s the world over. It can often feel like you’re public property, you’re on display and anything goes. We’re generally horrified when we hear unfiltered comments about another person’s skin colour or their weight, and rightly so, but their height… well that’s still a free for all!
Last week didn’t leaving me feeling good and it has raised this important question — when is the media going to start portraying reality? A reality that we’re living on a planet with billions of human beings of all different shapes & sizes. There’s no right or wrong, we’re all unique and that in itself is a beautiful thing worth watching!
Alright, so influencing mainstream media may take a little time but my recent experience has made me more determined to continue on my tall quest. It’s also worth celebrating the fact that I had the courage to put my name forward, I’ve come a long way in six months and I can now confidently answer that damn question — Who are you?
I’m glad you asked, I’m Sallee and I’m on a mission to change the way the world sees tall women. I’m the Founder of TALL GUIDES — an empowering global community of tall women who encourage each other to have the confidence to stand tall, the courage to stand out and the freedom to choose… and this is only the beginning.
If you have a tall friend, please send her our way and help us to grow!
Twitter & Instagram: @TALLGUIDES