Monday, August 9, 2010

Height is a state of mind

For all of my adult life, I have believed I was 5 feet, 6 and 1/2 inches tall. This week, I found out I've been living a lie.

I signed up for the Atlantic Path cancer research study, donating my body measurements and toenails to science. I'd forgotten to measure my height at home - besides, what was the need? Surely it hadn't changed in the past 15-ish years. I was asked to take off my shoes and socks and stand against the wall. "Breathe in and then let it out," I was instructed. I did as I was told, and remarkably, felt taller. I was convinced she was going to pronounce me 5 foot 7. "5 feet, 5-and-1/2 inches," she said without hesitation, and wrote the numbers down, immortalizing my reduced height forever.

I said nothing, but remained convinced it was a mistake. After all, my identity was that of a 5 foot, 6.5 inch person. With that one inch, I had gone from tall-ish to average. My BMI, having teetered on the edge of overweight at 5 feet, 6.5 inches (OK, so I may even have entered 5'7" in those online calculators) tipped decidedly in that unfavourable direction (and while I might claim it's all muscle, the printout Atlantic Path provided me with my body composition tells me otherwise). "Their measurements must be off," I said, and several Facebook friends confirmed they'd had the same experience. There was only one way to settle this. I asked my mom to measure me. Three times. On the third try, I hit 5 feet, 5-and-3/4 inches. I may have been stretching. Still, even 5 foot 6 remained beyond my grasp. How could I have been so wrong?

One can only lie to oneself about one's weight for so long before the snugness of our clothing calls our bluff. But our height - there's a delusion we can hold onto for a while (at least if we're only deluded by an inch or two). Alas, it would appear all delusions must come to an end. Thanks for setting me straight, Atlantic Path.

I have spent the past several days adjusting to my new height. The top shelf of the cupboard seems harder to reach. The ceiling seems higher. High-heeled shoes hold more appeal. On the bright side, I'm standing up straighter. I can't afford to get any shorter.

1 comment:

  1. If it makes you feel any better, anything over 5'5" is tall to me - but I do totally get the business of not wanting to shrink.
    M at 5'1.5"
    (and I didn't know you over 5-5ers used half inches)