This is the first in the series of interviews we will have with fellow tall women. There’s always the question of “Do you play Basketball?” With these interviews we’ll be shooting down that question with a pleasant no. Now you’re asking, “If we don’t play basketball, what do we do?”Well, I’m glad you asked (even if you didn’t.)
Read on for the first Junoesque Interview with our mother, Mrs. Candy Speight.
Elayna: How tall are you?
Candy: I am 6’1”
Elayna: And what do you do?
Candy: I am currently the Founder and CEO of Order Your Steps which is a professional organizing company.
Myiesha: And what did you do before then?
C: Before then I was a Field Service Manager for Xerox.
M: And how long were you there?
C: I was with Xerox for 32 years.
E: What was it like growing up? Did you experience any bullying or teasing?
C: Well my nickname was Slim. Everyone just found the need to call me Slim. I can’t say that there was really any bullying. There was a lot of teasing about my height. [Names like] treetop. But I never took it as bullying.
E: Yeah those are kinda cool nicknames. How did you become comfortable in your own skin?
C: Well I always tell people that [I grew up] with a mother that is 5’0″. She used to rap me in between my shoulder blades to make me stand up straight. She would take her fist and rap me in between my shoulder blades. And what’s interesting too is that since my father was 6’4″ she was always very comfortable around tall people. Besides the fact that she would make me stand up, she didn’t find tall strange. She didn’t dwell on my height. It wasn’t a matter of sitting down and discussing with me how I should handle myself being so tall, it was just more or less this is what you are. It’s not anything out of the ordinary. She didn’t make it appear weird or strange although I was a foot taller than her. But it wasn’t anything that she dwelled on.
E: Do you think that if she took another approach like sitting you down would you have taken her seriously since she was so short?
C: That’s a very good question. I probably wouldn’t have because it was like how can you relate? You have no idea what it’s like. So that’s a good point. I guess I probably wouldn’t have.
E: Did you play any sports and was it by choice?
C: No and yes (laughs)
E: Why didn’t you play sports?
C: Because I wasn’t good at it! I had to play basketball for gym in school. I was never crazy about sports anyway but I had to pass gym. Everyone would say, “Why don’t you play basketball?” and I would always tell them I’m not good at it. “Well you don’t have to be you’re tall!” That’s not true. Just being tall does not make you a successful basketball player. I learned very early on that I was a LOUSY basketball player and the fact that I was tall just did not help me at all. It made it worse because people would assume that just because I was tall I would be a good basketball player. It was nothing further from the truth because I was a lousy basketball player.
E: Any funny tall-related anecdotes you want to share?
C: I worked for Xerox and back in the olden days in our commercials, there was Father Dominic who was a monk. And he (the actor who played him) came to the office one day just to socialize with the employees and so on and so forth. And he looked at me and of course I was almost looking him in the eye as I was sitting down and he insisted that I stand up. Then he insisted that we take a picture.
M: Have you ever dated a short guy?
C: I did date a short guy. A real short guy. He had to have been abut 5’6″. Don’t ask me how it happened. He was a friend of a friend of my mom’s. But it’s weird, it never bothered him but it really bothered me. I can see the folks looking at [us]. It was totally different than someone seeing me in the mall. Me being tall and them looking at me. But it was actually embarrassing to me; people looking at me and this guy. I didn’t feel as self conscious with people watching me by myself as I did with them watching me with him. It never bothered him. It wasn’t that he wasn’t nice. But it wasn’t something that I could have overcome.
M: So I guess that’s the problem with dating a short guy you have to be comfortable…
C: Exactly I was not comfortable in my own mind but there was nothing he could have done that would have gotten me over that. It’s unfair. But I know for a fact that I would not have been able to overcome that.
E: Any advice you would give to any up and coming Junoesque ladies and what would you tell your 16 year old self and the mothers of tall girls.
C: I think this is for women everywhere. Females all over the world. You have got to feel good in your own skin. It is a must. We are emotionally driven people and people feed into our spirits. And if you are not comfortable first there is a lot of negativity that could be taken in by the comments that people make about the way you look. So you’ve gotta have that self esteem. You’ve got to have that. And I can’t say that I was totally comfortable in my skin at 16 so it comes over time. You have to make it happen, no one can make it happen for you. You have to convince yourself that you are what God created you to be and be comfortable with that and no one can take that away from you but no one can give it to you either. You can’t wait for someone else to tell you you’re beautiful, you have to believe it first.
E: So you were saying that Tall mothers need to instill that self esteem in their children first.
C:Mothers, because we are females, are not always comfortable in our skin. But irrespective of that, you have to instill in your children—your girls that. Sometimes that is not easy if you don’t have it. Now luckily I made my journey and because I made my journey I was in a position to help you all make your journey. Some women have not made that journey and it is hard to convince someone to have self esteem when you don’t. And it’s never too late. So I would suggest to mothers to take that journey or make it with your daughter but make it because that journey has to be made.
E:Anything else you’d like to add?
C: I’m just very proud that we have an opportunity to help other tall girls and girls of every size, shape, and color because the key is to be comfortable in your own skin.