'More Than My Height' Wants Tall Women To Know Their 'Different' Bodies Are Beautiful

"When you are made to feel so different and abnormal, you question the way your body was put together and how others perceive you."

Growing up in small town Iowa, sisters Alli Black and Amy Rosenthal didn't have access to abundant options when it came to shopping. As tall women — 5 foot 9 inches and 6 foot 4 inches respectively — they both felt there was a total void in the fashion industry, as the available brands didn't cater to those who exceeded the "average" height for women. Thus, the duo launched Amalli Talli at the end of 2014 in an effort to serve those women who shared the same struggles.

"As someone who is almost 6 foot 4 inches,, I've always struggled to find clothing that fit my style that was also the appropriate length and proportions I need," Rosenthal told A Plus. "There are over five inches of height difference between [Alli and I], but there's not a company that caters to tall on both ends of the spectrum. So the difference between us and any other company that sells 'tall' is that we don't consider tall to be one height or one length — we design and create clothing that can fit someone who is 5 foot 9 inches  or 6 foot 5 inches by cutting more than one length in our dresses and carrying a range of inseam lengths." 

However, at the end of 2017, Black and Rosenthal posted on Amalli Talli's social media platforms to ask customers what type of content they'd like to see on the brand's blog page in the coming year. 

While the sisters were expecting followers to suggest topics related to style or fashion, an overwhelming majority requested content on how to be confident in one's height and how to raise tall, confident daughters and granddaughters. 

Amy Rosenthal and Alli Black, co-founders of Amalli Talli
Amy Rosenthal and Alli Black, co-founders of Amalli Talli Courtesy of Amy Rosenthal and Alli Black

From this simple question, Black and Rosenthal decided to launch a separate platform — More Than My Height (MTMH) —specifically dedicated to body image issues, thereby giving said topics the space and attention they need and deserve.

"There is such an overwhelming need to touch on the insecurities and the body hatred that tall women face," Black told A Plus. "The biggest hurdle to jump over when it comes to being a young, tall girl is the number of unwelcome comments people (read: strangers) make towards you and your body, alienating you and making you feel so different from every other girl. Amy has heard a comment about her body almost every day of her life. For this reason, many tall women, even as they get older, tend to have body image, confidence and self-esteem issues." 

"Many tall women and girls often feel like what they are going through is a unique experience, when, in fact, there are many of us going through the same thing," Black added. "So we like to share relatable experiences or feelings we have had throughout the course of our life; topics such as how to overcome stereotypes, how to find your own confidence, and challenging society's view of what the ideal female body looks like. We also like to feature other women in our niche that can serve as inspiration for the whole community."

As Rosenthal notes, MTMH's mission is two-fold. While the sisters want to encourage and empower women to love their height, while also recognizing the many talents they also possess, they also hope to educate society on the negative impact comments and questions about height has for many tall girls and women to help influence healthier interactions. 

Alli Black, co-founder of Amalli Talli
Alli Black, co-founder of Amalli Talli Courtesy of Amy Rosenthal and Alli Black

"On an almost daily basis, I receive a ton of comments where people just feel the need to express to me that I am very tall, as if I somehow did not know this about myself," Rosenthal explained. "It's literally just part of my everyday life to hear things like, 'WOW, you are SO tall" or "I've never met a woman as tall as you" or "You make me feel short." It's not out of the norm for a tall girl to be questioned about her choice to wear heels for the day or how they can ever find a date."  

"The problem with all of these comments is that they serve as a constant reminder that people view us as "really different" and that can be a tough message to process over and over again," Rosenthal added. "When you are made to feel so different and abnormal, you question the way your body was put together and how others perceive you.  In some ways, I experienced body dysmorphia as a girl growing up because I always heard how big and tall I was, so I really thought I was this completely unfeminine and beastly creature." 

Amy Rosenthal, co-founder of Amalli Talli
Amy Rosenthal, co-founder of Amalli Talli Courtesy of Amy Rosenthal and Alli Black

Black emphasizes that, by creating this community, she and her sister have been able to help countless women improve their self-esteem by simply being themselves and showing readers that they're comfortable in their height. "We write very vulnerably about our experiences growing up, and even in adulthood, that made us feel insecure, but also write to how we mentally overcame those insecurities and learned to love our bodies. Even bigger than us, I think building a community where women can come together, relate to each other, and build each other up is so important. Wherever there's a sense of belonging, self-esteem is always positively impacted." 

MTMH's influence has already reached far and wide, as these reader comments indicate:

"I just wanted to say that I LOVE what you two are doing!   It's a great message that spans generations but especially for young girls who do not yet have a thick enough skin to weather the seemingly endless amount of stupid comments. There was a lack of encouragement and camaraderie growing up but I'm 55 now, embrace all 72 inches and wear heels regularly and rock it as best I can!  I still see my daughter struggle a bit with some insecurities (she's 6 feet as well and about to be 28).   But I think your new site will provide her with a fresh perspective." --Tina, Alabama

"When people have asked me in the past how tall I am, I would say 'I don't know'.  And that's the truth because to be honest I had never actually measured how tall I was because I was kind of ashamed of what the number might be.  Today, you will be pleased to know that with a straight back and happy tears in my eyes I have finally measured how tall I am.  No longer will I slouch and try to blend in with all the 'normal' heighted people out there.  From now on, I am going to stand proud with all 184 cm (just over 6 feet) of me and when people ask me how tall I am, I will say my height with a smile on my face.  After all, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes."  --Lexi, Australia

Alli Black and Amy Rosenthal, co-founders of Amalli Talli
Alli Black and Amy Rosenthal, co-founders of Amalli Talli Courtesy of Amy Rosenthal and Alli Black

Black and Rosenthal both believe that, when people comment on someone else's body, it's because they have an unresolved insecurity of their own. For example, tall women often hear comments from men that are shorter than them. People make such comments in order to minimize their own angst, which coincides with the notion that blowing out someone else's candle will make theirs burn brighter. As the sisters emphasize,  such behaviors are derived from the "perfectness" everyone's exposed to through the media and social media, which makes the majority of people feel insecure or inadequate. Subsequently, these people are then inspired to point out how other people fall short of the mark instead of acknowledging their personal flaws.

Ultimately, however, before commenting — no matter how benign the remark might seem — we must all take a step back to consider the fact that we're all insecure in some respect. "The most important part is to remember that and allow yourself to feel some compassion for people you may initially feel compelled to judge," Black said. "If you can 'catch yourself' in the moment and ask: 1. Is it a necessary comment or behavior? 2. Does their difference really affect me? 3. Is my behavior or thought kind? 4. What do I gain by putting a comment or behavior out there?"

If we can keep these questions in mind when we feel compelled to criticize or judge someone, we can approach those who are different from us with empathy instead of animus, thereby setting the stage for a kinder, more inclusive society.

Cover image via Kim Howell / Shutterstock

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