When I was born, I was a very long baby. My mum, who is of average height and quite slim told me that she could wrap me around her tummy and have my feet and hands meet at each end. It wasn’t just a cool party trick, it was an early indication that the little baby who could be wrapped around any torso would be incredibly tall.
Sure enough, as the years progressed, I reached the ripe old age of five and the first thing my Kindergarten teacher said was, “My, you are very tall Jessica.” Those words, said in a loud-enough-to-humiliate Canadian accent, have rung in my ears ever since.
When I say tall, I’m not talking about Miranda Hart tall, where people actually mistake you for a man. But I am talking about a body that looks like it has been stretched using some kind of torture device.
People think it is a blessing to be tall and skinny. The trouble is, those who don’t go on to become super-models generally end up looking like The Hunchback of Notre-Dame in an attempt to fit in. The other problem with being a human pencil is that you think you will never get fat.
I know this because I did what every walking bookmark does: I stuffed myself with whatever I chose, be it cakes, candy, ice cream or biscuits and as a consequence my insides suffered. My outside suffered too. Where once I was able to walk the beach without my thighs touching, they soon began to grate together like bits of sandpaper. After years of happily frolicking in the water in just a bikini, I was forced to start wearing men’s extra-long board shorts to hide the hip extensions and jiggling thighs.
If you can imagine a two-metre long stick insect with zero body tone and a drooping stomach: that was me.
And then one day I discovered that my friend had what was known as a calf muscle. It was as if she had just shown me some fancy new brand of shoe – I wanted in. So I started to do something that I had managed to put off for most of my life: I started to exercise.
The calves didn’t come overnight but eventually I was able to wear my legs out in public. And after a few more years of daily jogs I actually developed what is known as self-respect.
But the best part of all was that I could stop dressing like a pre-pubescent male and just enjoy being a girl. A very tall girl, but a girl nonetheless.
Text © Jessica Rosman 2015