Advice for a 15-year-old; plus, how can I get taller?

Dear Aunt Gabby,

Hi, I am 20 years old and I am so short. I am 5’7” and want to be tall. I hate being short. What should I do?

Stuck Here

Dear Stuck,

Five-two here. (I was 5’3 ½” all my adult life and now I’ve shrunk). I am absolutely short. And dang-it, I want to be taller, too! I have tried walking on tippy toes, wearing high-heeled house slippers, and even standing on the table, but NOTHING works.

What shall I do? Whine, complain, pout, and jump off a bridge? Obsess? Or put my big girl panties on and exercise, wear nice clothing, and stand up tall and be proud of who I really am?

Sounds like a no-brainer. Maybe I will do that.

On a serious note, the average woman in the United States is 5’3.7” and weighs 170 pounds, so truthfully, you are above average in height. Tall!! The average clothing size is a 16-18. (Seventy-five percent of the adult population of the US is overweight.)

Now, it is also true that if you are thin, you will look taller (and generally be healthier). So acquire over time better eating habits and exercise a bit more. Nothing drastic.

There are also tricks that short women like me use to look taller, like wearing one color from top to toe, not cutting yourself in half at the waist. Another thing to do is wear a little heel, not necessarily spikes, but an inch or two, to make you walk taller.  Great posture helps, too.

Now for the commercial break: I know that young adults have all sorts of body image problems, like growing too fast, not having perfect breasts, being awkward or clumsy, or just hating their bodies in general, hair in particular.

Our society as a whole teaches girls that they need products to achieve perfection and because others are perfect and you are not. Don’t buy it. It is a commercial. Girls have been taught (in the past) that their bodies, face, and femininity are all they have to offer the world. You know this is not true. You are not just your body, but your mind, passion, interests, problems, and weaknesses. No one is perfect. Sometimes, something you think of as a weakness ends up being your best asset.

Do some work thinking about how valuable you are as a friend, how you are an artist or math whiz, think about how unique you are as a person, a whole person.

If you can’t get there, talk to a minister or counselor who specializes in body image or young people’s issues.

Dear Aunt Gabby,

What advice do you have for a 15-year-old girl?       

Rosa the Sophomore

Dear Rosa,

Thank you for this opportunity to write what I wish someone had told me at that age.

First, know that you are a unique in the world that needs your gifts to make the world a better place.

Appreciate that someone loves you.

Think of a person you love. Do what you can to make that person proud of you.

Treat other people the way you would like to be treated, even if they don’t.

Find something in high school you enjoy and do your best. Study to pass the rest.

You are so much more valuable than your body. Don’t give your mind, will, or body away for popularity, spite, or love.

Don’t break the law, no matter what.

Become a great reader.

Stay sober.

A successful life is not just endless kicks. It is also a chance to make real changes, to discover your talents, to be strengthened by adversity and loss, to love and be loved.

Remember what you wanted to be when you grew up? If you still want that, work toward it.

Don’t even think about marriage until you are at least 25.

Travel before you marry or have kids.

Don’t have any children you cannot support by yourself before you have them.

(Understand that it’s your parents’ job to keep track of you for now.)

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