Should women fear being too tall? A study examining the experiences of very tall women
Farman, Tanya Canak
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The purpose of the study was to understand and describe the essential experiences of very tall women. The experiences of tall women were directly and thoroughly examined using qualitative methods. The study was a heuristic inquiry, which is a form of phenomenological research that utilized the personal experiences of the researcher. The procedure involved interviewing 9 women who were 6'0" tall or taller and incorporating the experiences of the researcher who was also a very tall woman. The two major sources of data in the study were transcriptions derived from interviews and a written log of the investigator's experiences and reflections. These sources of data were further supplemented by a text document analysis of a nonfictional book where the 6'3" female author shared her own experiences as a tall woman, as well as the experiences of other tall people she interviewed from around the world. The data were interpreted using the following six phases of heuristic research and analysis identified by Moustakas (1990): initial engagement, immersion, incubation, illumination, explication, and creative synthesis. In the final stages of analysis, information from all data sources was integrated to form a depiction of very tall women. Results of the present study suggested that there was a transition in general feelings about tall height from negative to positive when looking at development across the lifespan for most tall women. The majority of the women in this study related disliking their height during adolescence, which was the time their height was most awkward and uncomfortable. They also indicated they have had to contend with difficulty finding clothes, limited options in taller romantic partners, stereotypes regarding their athletic ability, and frequent attention from others whether they wanted it or not. Although facing these challenges was a part of their experiences as tall women, the women in this study also conveyed that they liked their height as adults. They consistently related that they would choose to be tall if given a choice of any height, and they perceived their height as an advantageous and generally positive physical attribute.