Stereotypes loom over tall teen

For Randa Guthrie, her height can lead to awkward conversations

Randa Guthrie, Opinion writer




GUTHRIEI’m 13 years old and 5 feet, 6 inches tall.  I understand that I probably look older than 13 and that I’m pretty tall for a girl my age. But I don’t need anyone to tell me that.

My little sister is 1. The fact that I’m tall and good with kids doesn’t automatically make me her mom.

Almost every time I’m at the store, I keep my sister entertained for my mom. Sometimes we walk off a little ways from my mom. Inevitably, someone comes up and says, “Oh, you’re such a good mom!” or “Your baby is so cute!”.I know it was just meant as a compliment, but it makes me feel awkward that people just assume I’m her mom.

Not only is it an awkward situation for me, but it’s awkward for my mom, too. My mom is not, and does not, look old enough to be a grandparent.

Other times, I’ll be talking or playing with my sister, and someone shoots me a dirty look. I know what they’re thinking, but what does it matter to them? Even if I was her mom, it’s not like they’re affected by that.


I’m glad that people can see me as a good guardian to my sister, and I’ll claim her as mine because I love her, but don’t be so quick to assume that.

And then there’s the basketball question. People who see me in public always ask me if I play basketball because I’m tall.

No, I don’t play basketball. I play tennis.

“Oh, well have you ever tried basketball?” they ask. “You should because you’re so tall.”

I know that I’m tall, but that doesn’t mean that I have to do things that tall people stereotypically do.

One day I was at a restaurant with some of my family when a woman started telling me how pretty I was and how she loved my hair.

After I said “thank you,” she proceeded to say, “You’re really tall, but you’re slim for a girl as tall as you. How much do you weigh?”

Wow. I couldn’t believe a woman her age could be rude enough to ask a stranger, especially a teenage girl, how much they weigh.

Luckily, I don’t have a problem with how much I weigh, and I’m pretty healthy.

Not a mom, not a basketball player, just a healthy teenage girl.