December 6, then and now.

This essay was mostly written yesterday, on the anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre that occurred in Montreal in 1989. It was modified and expanded today. 

The thing I remember the most about 27 years ago today is being confused about why I was seeing my sister on TV.

She was in CEGEP at the time, and they were showing young women in colleges near where the 24 women and four men were gunned down. 14 women didn’t survive.

I remember my mom holding me to her hip, tightly. I get that now.

For twenty-seven years the message has been to keep the victims’ memories at the forefront. That their bravery and conviction should be what’s remembered. It is important to remember the individuals injured and murdered. It is not long enough to heal those wounds.

Part of healing is being told not to make it about him. Don’t say his name. Don’t give him the satisfaction of infamy. Remember their light, not his shadow.

But we can’t have one without the other.


Tonight, for the first time, I read Marc Lepine’s suicide note.

There’s a dull, cynical, thudding pain of recognition. It is not different from what gets written and thrown at women every day online, at workplaces, in schools and gyms and churches and courthouses, by men and women, young and old.

The worst part is that women continue to be beaten, raped, murdered, sent to prison, kidnapped, bought and sold like property.

We don’t know where our missing and murdered indigenous women and girls are.

Or maybe I mean we all know where they are. Like the fourteen women who died on Mount Royal that afternoon twenty-seven years ago, they are present right here, right now.

They are in every hallway, every backseat, every bus stop, every supermarket, they are here: waiting. Waiting for their silence to become loud enough for us to hear it. Waiting for enough of us to finally start listening, and to act. Ring the alarms. Fill the chasm of their quiet.

They are here in those of us who are bound to join their ranks.

We are in trouble.

We are all in trouble because even though twenty-seven years ago is more than a lifetime away for many people, the sickness of Marc Lepine’s ideas continues.

What’s striking today is not the deplorable, hateful content of the note itself, it is the damned, casual, familiarity of the message. It continues. It has. Never. Stopped.

So keep fighting. Keep remembering, and mourning, and listening, but also keep fighting.




If a woman opens her mouth to speak, but isn’t supported by a man, does she still make a sound?

A very good essay on Beyonce’s Lemonade. It touches on this idea that’s in the air right now of reclaiming emotion and (I think) vulnerability as a legitimate response to the patriarchal relics of the age of enlightenment.
We never expect artists to be frank and upfront about their lives in their work, let alone frank about their pain. Acknowledging the autobiographical basis of the album is totally disarming and probably the most shocking part of it.
The public emphasis on Jay Z’s response, asking will he be mad or will she leave him and, inevitably, what about the children, just shows how we still see the rejection of a man as a shameful or dangerous thing for a woman. And, yes, it is dangerous when you consider domestic violence rates, but never shameful.
What’s happening is we are seeing the album as an emotional outburst, rather than carefully constructed piece of art and, implicitly, that emotional outbursts are a bad thing.
We assume she did this recklessly and that there will be unanticipated consequences to her act of speaking. We instantly looked for his response, instead of trusting her testimony, her truth. In doing that, we proved her point that society thinks women – especially black women – can’t be trusted, aren’t wise enough to anticipate the consequences of their actions, and aren’t able to speak without a man validating their words.
He shouldn’t get the last word.

Halifax Pride Festival and Parade

LGBTQ+ Pride is a necessary tool for increasing equality for all humans. It’s great for citizens to recognize all of our differences and understand that inclusion, love and difference are core strengths of a community.

It also performs a really important service for youth who are struggling to understand their own sexual orientation(s) and gender presentation(s): where the community confirms our support and love for all youth, and we can (re)educate everyone on fighting discrimination and valuing consent, safer sexual practices and the multitude of ways we form our relationships and families.

THAT SAID. I am uncomfortable with the apparent pink-washing of this year’s pride festival and parade. From the “Happy [insert your cause] Pride” posters we were encouraged to create and disseminate throughout the city by festival organizers to the minimizing of the equality issues facing LGBTQ+ people in Canada and around the world (particularly those facing inter-sectional marginalization) Halifax Pride has become increasingly commercialized and depoliticized.

Maybe it’s a bid to become more palatable to politicians and businesses who may not want to alienate their constituents/clientele, so that they can “safely” sponsor and participate in the festivities. Or maybe it’s some radical post-gay approach* and I’m just being a cynical, last-gen queer who thinks there’s still lots of work to do when it comes to our rights. Maybe both and more.

I appreciate all the progress we have fought for and accomplished. I also appreciate my cis/straight allies, near and far, who have fought alongside us. I just wish the festival could better-recognize the history and challenges that we still face.

I love donning a rainbow and dancing in the streets as much as the next guy. I love affirming my freedom to be proud of who I am after years of fear and shame. I just don’t want the message to get lost amidst the partying and marketing.




* For more information and far-better analysis on the post-gay movement and identity construction, see Amin Ghazani’s “Post-Gay Collective Identity Constructionhere.

Women and Looking Professional

Last year I returned to school in a professional program after years of working at a financial institution and then being a SAHM for my kid and lately I have been thinking about what it means for women to look “professional.” There are websites devoted to this theme and I guess that’s a good thing, but the feminist in me still feels a pang of regret/resignation about how much of our success as business professionals depends on our appearances. (Which is not to say that this isn’t the case for men, but women have a much tougher row to hoe in this regard.)

So let’s look at some of the unfair burdens placed primarily on women in professional settings:

Professional clothing costs more, and you need more of it.

Men, it has been shown, can get away with one to three suits in formal settings and this is simply not the case for women, who are scrutinized much more severely for either repeating outfits or missing the mark on what’s “appropriate.” This is in part because (average-sized) women have more sartorial choices, and consequently have a more nuanced set of expectations for their workplace. These expectations can and do vary greatly. Need proof? Google “business casual attire” for men and women. The variety of descriptions in womens’ attire will certainly dwarf that of men.

The news this week has brought us stories about mandatory high heels for female restaurant servers. Frankly, I feel like all workplace and school dress codes should be gender-non-specific, and to do otherwise presents a fertile opportunity for discrimination allegations.

Tall women have a particularly difficult time finding work appropriate clothes. Skirt suits that would be perfectly professional on medium or petite women become downright scandalous on those of us with longer inseams. Throw mandatory high heels into the mix and you run the risk of street and/or office harassment or receiving reprimands for dressing too provocatively.

Tall women’s suits are difficult to come by, but when you find them, they tend to be from more expensive brands. This is easier if you live in a large city, but for those of us not in major centers, finding suits in person is basically impossible. In my town I’ve never seen pantyhose come in long lengths and the “Queen” or “D” size seems to accommodate larger waists/behinds but not longer legs. All my tall sisters out there, who among us has not had to waddle to the ladies room to try to hitch up our tights that feel like they are around our knees?!  So almost all of my shopping occurs online. That usually means import fees, shipping costs and the risk that things will not fit. That adds to expense.

Shoes are, for me at least, slightly better. Payless has been so great about stocking up to women’s size 12 and their everyday comfort pumps are fantastic. I regularly get compliments when I wear them. Most IRL stores here on the East Coast will hesitate to stock formal footwear above a size 10. I was told by a saleswoman at one store that they have a policy to never order more than 2 pair of shoes beyond size 10 even if larger sizes are available. That particular store had a secret waiting list/calling list for those two pairs. They would email all the large-footed customers, who would then race to snatch up one lucky pair.

High heels can be hazardous for tall women, though. First off, the range of styles are minimal and usually verge on dowdy or drag-queeny (and there’s a loving time and place for both, but neither is really what I want to don at work). If I’m on my feet at work and in heels, I will inevitably get angry comments about my appearance and feel incredibly awkward in public washrooms where I can clearly see over the stalls. The worst is that, because I’m the Tallest Girl in the Room, I have more mass than my average or petite coworkers. For those unfamiliar with working in heels, so much of the technique to doing it gracefully involves momentum and shifting your weight. When you’re a bigger person, there’s a lot more effort that goes in to maintaining stability and balance. It’s the physics of levers: it just takes more work to move and stabilize a longer beam than a shorter one. And it sucks, especially if you’re a tall server that has to not only balance plates and trays while moving quickly, but achieve this in heels.

Hair and Makeup

Like I said, I’m in school. The last year I mostly got a pass with casual clothing, though I am aware that this impacted first impressions with my classmates and professors. This year there will be job interviews, networking events and other instances where school will be decidedly more business-attire oriented (apparently tuxedo snuggies are frowned upon.).

I like to bike to school. It’s faster than driving or taking the bus, cheaper than parking and also helps me wake up and be alert for classes. When I bike, I try to go slowly but there is pressure to keep up with traffic. If you don’t you are more likely to be passed or hit, or yelled at from drivers. (We aren’t the most bike-friendly city.) Hills are guaranteed as well.

Helmets are the law, even though their safety remains controversial among cyclists, particularly women cyclists. There is evidence that wearing a long-haired wig gives you more overall protection than a helmet, since cars give you a wider berth and slow down when you’re near.

So I sweat. I get to school sweaty. Sometimes it isn’t even sweat, it’s condensation from our foggy, maritime climate. My hair is a mess from the helmet and the condensation/sweat. Makeup is long gone. At least I have a healthy glow from the fresh air and exercise!

Unfortunately, my school is only beginning to retrofit shower facilities into their buildings and none of the women’s bathrooms have outlets for hairdryers. It remains to be seen whether students will have access to the one shower in our building. Interestingly, the universal bathrooms (read: gender-neutral, accessible) do usually have an outlet for a hairdryer or, I guess, a razor if you’re a guy?

I guess my point is that women are still expected to be presentable when they show up at work. This often means hair that is coiffed or at least brushed and dry, makeup that is in place and no sweat on your brow, and unwrinkled suits/blouses. When I bike in heels, I get cat-calls and countless comments like “how on earth do you do that?!” when they should really be asking “why on earth do we as a society require that?!” Even with facilities, the expectations for women are really high and disproportionately affect their perceived performance.

Tips for Commuting to Work for Femme Women

If you have storage or a locker available at work, here are some must-haves to keep on hand:

  • Formal shoes. I kept some tasteful ballet flats (in caramel), a pair of black pumps and a pair of yellow pumps (which I had to order online). I also found it helpful to keep a satchel of potpourri to place in my cycling shoes, because yeah, smells.
  • Spare pantyhose. I found a size that sort of mostly worked. I kept two or three spare pairs in my locker in case of runs or holes or to change into after getting out of my cycling clothes.
  • A black blazer. Key for the forgotten meeting, impromptu networking lunch, or unexpected stain on your blouse/sweater.
  • Dry shampoo. Because I’m fairly active, running up and down stairs, cycling, lugging books around, this magical stuff has saved my behind. So far my favourite is this one from Lush. It has a vaguely citrus smell that passes the building’s no-scent policy, removes excess grease like magic and is reasonably priced. Nobody pays me for reviews or promotion and this is one of my game-changing favourite products of all time.
  • Waterproof mascara. I know it’s bad to use it every day, but when you’re sweating or crying, nothing beats a great waterproof mascara.
  • Travel hairdryer. My hair is fine, so it doesn’t take too long to dry it, but the flip side is that even the tiniest amount of moisture makes it look like a stringy, hot mess. I was really embarrassed about using it at first, but people kept saying how smart I was for bringing it, and how they wished they’d thought of it. A little conspicuous, but what can you do?
  • Spare deoderant/antipersperant. Just to, y’know, top up halfway through the day.

Okay that’s enough for today. Good luck on your shopping, commuting, wonderful lives!

I will post soon about the US finally legalizing same-sex marriage across the country. This is a placeholder for that post.


This Proportion: on “Serious Question: How Tall Is Kit Harrington?”

via Serious Question: How Tall Is Kit Harrington?.

Well. First off, let’s just get it out of the way: people on TV are beautiful. Kit Harrington is Beautiful. So are Sophie Turner and Gwendolyn Christie.

Now, let’s talk about fictions. It’s genuinely amusing to me when I read unsubstantiated (read: self-reported/wkipedia) reports about height. It really brings home how much we, as a society, marginalize when it comes to deviations from the norm.

Because if you read any male actor’s wikipedia page or bio, it will likely say one of two heights: 6’1 or 5’9. Sometimes, if they are undeniably or marketably extreme, it will vary by an inch or two. Like in Mr. Harrington’s case.

Women, on the other hand, have two different settings: those where height is not mentioned and those where it is. My completely unscientific estimate is that those who are actually about 5’7 and under… their height is just not talked about. 4’8? “Diminuitive” or “cute” but not quantified.

Now, this is something I noticed a few years ago – okay, like ten years ago – people on TV have weird proportions. Their heads are huge in relation to their shoulders/bodies/hips (for women esp.). Why? This makes their features stand out.

Did you know everyone’s eyeballs are roughly the same size? Don’t think about that too much or you’ll get grossed out. But think about this: the cultural (and maybe universal?) aesthetic values all tend to align with big eyes. Since eyes are actually all the same size, if the rest of you is smaller you are gaining in that physio-cultural currency. Your eyes are bigger compared to the rest of you. This also enforces social ideals for weight: the leaner you are, the greater the effect.

The fetish of large eyes applies to men and women on-screen  (though it’s only women who are pushed to endure smearing toxic chemicals around their eyes and hours-long eyelash weaves to keep up the illusion). Men with bigger eyes are seen as sensitive, brooding, soulful. They also need a strong jaw to be leading man material, which means that skinny and slight – but muscular – is the recipe for success. High contrast features amplify the effect, as well, which of course has implications for the overabundance of pale leading men and white leading men.

The effects of all this proportion-worship?

  • Smaller leading men are cast when the man has to appeal to female audiences. (Comedies, as an aside, get a pass because a comic lead is not meant to draw in the viewer in the same way a dramatic lead is. Thus, Will Farrell.)
  • So smaller leading women must be cast to adhere to gender expectations – don’t get me started.
  • Taller or heavier-set women are usually cast as threats to the male lead or desexualized.

Another effect is that there is huge pressure in show business to lie about your height. We have a narrative that Men can’t be shorter than 5’8 or 5’9. So men who are shorter than that simply round up, changing the definition of 5’9 rather than changing their height. This is one of the benefits of being the top rung of patriarchy.

For women it’s more insidious. Women in show business don’t (can’t) really talk about their height, and no one else does unless it threatens the construct of Hollywood-5’9. It’s possible that they’re silenced because accusing coworkers of lying doesn’t get you very far in business. If a woman lies about her height, she is openly, loudly rebuffed: “You can’t be 5’8 because I’m 5’9 dammit!”

But in the end, the effect is that women’s height is externally invoked, both in Hollywood and everyday life that learns from it; If you are taller than average you will be asked to name your height or openly speculated upon. If you are 5’7 or lower, you make the shorter leading man look just right. You affirm a petite world where heads/eyes/features are maximized. You benefit from it. And you never have to declare or justify your size.

Of course, you want to point out, there are many successful tall actresses out there. Petite people are often quick to point out that tall women gain many benefits and are revered by men.

Well, I respectfully disagree on that last part.

But because of gender stereotype, these women have fewer roles because, and this is repeating myself, casting directors want men who have some feminine/attraction attributes like giant eyes which means they are typically shorter which means that short women get the opposing roles. And all other roles. They aren’t excluded.

How tall is Kit Harrington? It is a serious question for me, because its implications are significant for how women are represented and normalized in our culture.

Weighty Matters

TW: Discussion of eating disorders. 

For me there seem to be two types of tall people. To use running terminology, they are either gazelles or amazons.

In my teens I was lithe. The lightest I got to was 132 at 5’11. It was very skinny and happened on a trip where I would walk four or five hours a day and barely eat anything. Not the healthiest I’ve ever been, I’ll tell you.

At about 25 women’s bodies change. I’m around people of this age group all the time, and it wasn’t long ago that I was there (I swear). I remember being 27, not understanding why my hips were widening, my breasts getting larger, my muscles getting stronger… I thought I was done growing when I was done adolescence.

The girls younger than me had no clue. I remember during a particularly rough time in my self-esteem, I was at a photoshoot and these 23-year-olds were talking about how OMG they couldn’t imagine having what they so bitingly called “pregnancy hips.” I looked at their slender, youthful bodies, and mine, changing and decidedly “pregnancy hips” leaning. I felt awful about myself and tried to give myself an eating disorder. It didn’t work, and I’m damn lucky for that.


Please if you have or suspect you might have an eating disorder seek help from a trusted health professional. For the love of G-d don’t try to get one. You are stronger than you know and more beautiful than you could imagine.


Anyway, if you’re reading this and you’re young, please note that bodies don’t stop changing shape once your boobs stop growing or once you hit your twenties. There is a lot of change left to go.

So all this to say that my weight really crept up this past winter. Going back to school brought a fresh “freshman fifteen”. There’s no question alcohol and stress-eating were a big part of it. And the absolute nightmare winter where I wouldn’t leave the house for days.

So it’s time to lose some weight! A lot of weight. I’m going to do it in a healthy way, and it will take a long time to get to my ideal weight which I’ve measured to be approx. at the mid-way mark of my New BMI normal range. Realistically, I doubt I’ll ever see that number. If I can get close I’ll be much healthier and that’s what matters.

Did you know that typical BMI calculators are often inaccurate for taller than average people? So this mathematician designed a new BMI calculation that uses exponents (arts student – don’t ask me any details about anything mathey) to take into account the fact that people aren’t – GASP! – two dimensional. Taller people tend to be bigger in all three of our glorious known physical dimensions.

Here’s the link to this new and slightly-more accurate – but still deeply flawed – BMI Calculator.

Flawed because it doesn’t account for bone density, muscle mass, hydration, etc. and because BMI was originally intended only for population averages, not individuals.

So starting I guess tonight I’ll be using the livestrong myplate meal tracker and exercising in a safe manner.


Before starting a weight-loss program, always always always talk to your Health Professional.


In other news, I did a bit of online shopping. Here’s what I found:

Tall compression running pants at have great length now. They used to be dismally short (unless I received the wrong type) but now there’s plenty of room for cuffs or hems. Which is a foreign concept to me. Also their tall “Perfect Tanks” are actually blissfully long-waisted and very reasonably priced. They are actually such a staple in my wardrobe that I buy them by the half-dozen.

Ricki’s blouses run short. Their size large is large only in latitude, not longitude – a classic size fallacy! This breaks my heart. So many fun tops, and not a one of them actually fit my body properly. I think I can fix it somewhat by taking them to a tailor, though.

And to end on a positive note, I’m just having a few *great* hair days and that is always a very nice boost.

Love and peace,


Hello, I am the tallest girl in the room and I’ve got a blog about it now.

An Introduction of Sorts
I am not the tallest girl to exist. In fact, by Tall Girl standards, I’m a shrimp at 5’11. But I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t the tallest girl in the room.

If you happen to be reading this (and happen to be not me) you’re probably aware of the different frame of reference used for tall girls, the language that suggests we’re some sort of different species. We’re sometimes fetishized but often just jealously excluded in explicit and/or implicit ways. This blog is pretty much just a place for venting, whining, reflections and hopefully a little inspiration.

My Short BFFs
As I mentioned, I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t the tallest girl in the room. I’m definitely taller than the average man in my region, too. As it turns out I have a lot of amazing friends who all happen to be 5’3 or less.

Small people in the world can’t be painted with the same brush, just like tall or large people. That said, perhaps there’s a little bit of pop-psychology grass-is-greener friend attraction going on there. Maybe it’s evolutionary: I can get my pal’s magic bullet blender from the top shelf, and she can climb in my window when I’ve locked myself out of my house. But sometimes – actually, many times, our height difference is a source of alienation for us both.

Example 1: Activities. We wouldn’t be friends if we didn’t enjoy doing some of the same things. For most of the time, that’s not a problem – pouring a glass of wine doesn’t require a minimum height, other seated endeavors are great. One of my friends loves to run. That is where height becomes a real factor. I love her, and we do a good job encouraging one another. But we cannot run together. The sheer numbers make it impossible: She is technically just a little over half my weight: 55% to be precise. As a result it only takes her half the energy to move the same distance. She’s fast. Like, prize-winning fast. I’m barely considered a runner and often wonder whether I should be timed as a runner or a walker, since the speeds aren’t actually that different between the two.

So we can’t run together. Similarly, we can’t do yoga together. She’s never had a problem doing push-ups. She can balance her entire body on her forearms. Her tree pose is more like a bonsai-pose (and never, ever waivers). I am a human lever: my extremities are further from my center and take much more energy to lift, bend, prop, etc. So we accept that physical activities just aren’t something we can do together.

Example 2: Attraction. One of the cruellest realities of being the tallest girl in the room is that – heteronormativity alert – short men like short women. And tall men… like short women. The idea of being small is so closely bound to the idea of being a woman that they may as well be identical. Yes, patriarchy, yes, beauty standards, and yes, the fetishizing of youth feed into this. I know that. Intellectually I can rationalize it very well.

The trouble is, that doesn’t dull the sting of being overlooked (so to speak) or masculinized. I no longer go dancing because on the dancefloor all my girlfriends can make eye contact, laugh, chat — I never hear a word — and I am head and shoulders above them. Buzzfeed will tell you that it’s great to be able to survey the whole dance floor. So great. I just love looking at all the men in the room, looking past or even through me to see my size 1 or 0 friends.

Example 3: Clothing. The guys look at them in part because they dress better than I do. Because they can. They walk into stores designed for young women and find things in their size. Most stores are either designed for “petite” women or have “petite” sections. Some stores have “plus size” — at the back, to hide the larger women from passers-by — but no physical stores have a “tall” section. Jeans, thanks to the gap, are starting to offer tall lengths that aren’t “plus sized.”

I tried to go to a store for plus-sized women – and nothing fit because while I’m tall, I’m in the no-woman’s-land of not big enough for plus sized clothing, and not small (skinny?) enough for most stores. I am left with guesses on internet specialty sites.

Let’s not even talk about the fact that high heels are sexy and essentially verboten for me. Sure, I still wear them, but I need my game face on, my psychic armour up on high and my retorts for the following comments rehearsed:

  • How tall are you?
  • Are you wearing heels or something?
  • How dare you wear heels?
  • How’s the weather up there?

In many ways I’ve learned cheats on how to cope with being the tallest girl/person in the room.

Ballet slippers (not flats, even those have a centimeter that can make all the difference) whenever I’m standing in choir or can be sure I’ll be indoors.

I’ve learned to cross my legs to minimize or disguise the width I take up when seated, with sheer power of muscle and will I can even contort my crossed legs so they don’t trip people on the bus or at the movie theatre.

I slouch to one side of my seat – praying for armrests – so that I can angle my legs out away from the dinner tables, diner booths, conference tables. When that’s not an option, I perch on my chair and “lean in”, literally painfully aware of my feet folding back under my chair, leaning my elbows on the table for stability.

Body language is almost everything. I can’t stand tall or proud, I can’t stretch in front of people, and when I’m in the presence of men I must angle myself toward them, tilt my head, give all the signals that I’m smaller or weaker than I am. Otherwise I am accused of being intimidating (yes, explicitly), or privy to inappropriate jokes (because I’m one of the guys/masculinized) or informed that I’m probably a lesbian — I was once told that I was the subject of a bet at the office I worked for, whether I was a lesbian or not, because none of the men were attracted to me. Perhaps it’s a subject for another blog, but I’m bisexual and, once again, I’m in the no-man’s land of too femme for the LGBT community to believe I like women and too tall for the straight community to believe I like men. But I digress.

I buy all my shoes, boots and clothes online. It means that sometimes I get the sizing wrong, and I’ve come to know which “tall” inseams are simply not tall enough. I’m learning how to hide my body more — cardigans to hide my arms and post-baby love handles, blazers upon blazers to disguise my bulk. A-line skirts. These things you learn.

Since gaining some weight after my son was born, I’m also learning that bigness in one direction amplifies bigness in the other. I’ve had to learn how to be “the funny one,” the confident-out-of-necessity one, the one who “should be flattered” when, in the off-chance, someone cat-calls me or hits on me or thinks I’m younger or weigh less than I do. I’m no longer seen as willowy, I’m seen as “sturdy” “strong” or just “big.” Anyone else thinking about lumberjacks now?

So there you have it. The first sprawling, simpering post of the tallest girl in the room. I’ll come back to these themes, I’ll openly struggle – and maybe have some pointers – about my wardrobe, my weight, my relationships. I’ll relate stories of alienation. I’ll tackle the “but models are all tall!” myth of attraction and value in society. I’ll probably talk a bit more about being a very tall LGBT woman and some of my struggles in that area. I probably won’t talk about work issues – since I don’t currently have a job and I’m in school full time.

If you’ve read this far, I guess I hope you either gained some insight into your taller friends’ potential experiences (from what I can tell, there’s a lot of shared experience) or felt a little less alone as a tallest girl in your situation.

All the love,