Dutch people and being tall belong together as Austria and skiing, and Spain and tapas. But where do you walk into (pun intended :) ) when you're so tall? What are the most common situations, problems or events you have to deal with? The 10 most common problems of being tall are mentioned here.
10 most common problems tall people have
PROBLEM 1: being tall and buying clothes
When having a 'normal' length, buying clothes is most of the time a party. The best shops and trendiest hotspots are filled with the latest fashion. But really, for tall men and tall women, shopping is a challenge. Because, where do you buy a jeans with length 38"? Or what if your arms are so long that normal shirts don't even reach your wrists?
With trousers, length 36" is most of the time the longest size. One model jeans can be longer than the other, but even long size 36" can be too short when you're 6ft 7 tall, or even taller. Then you will have to wear high or half high shoes, so that at least the trousers fall a little on your shoe. And what if the jeans shrink after washing? Now I know from personal experience that the G-Star jeans are quite long. But what if you don't want to walk in jeans every day? A nice pants or casual trousers?
Luckily, there are nowadays specialized clothing stores in that offer clothing for tall men and women. "Tallsome" is a convenient website where all stores for tall people are listed in an address-guide.
Trousers are a problem, but what about shirts when you're taller than 6ft7?
Most shops have a broad and modern range of shirts for tall men. In Holland, that is called sleeve size 7 (mouwlengte7 in Dutch). Normal shirts for 'normal' people have a sleeve size 6, when the sleeves are up to 70 cm long. But believe me, when you're taller than 1.80 meters (5'8''), and there are really a lot of us, that just looks ridiculous. The sleeves end just below your elbow. But don't worry! There's a specialist in shirts with extra long sleeves. The brand 'Sleeve 7' has now the largest collection shirts with extra long sleeves in Europe. They ship worldwide, so Sleeve7 is available for every long person. No matter where you live.
And where do you buy socks when you have shoe size 49 (or shoe size 14)?
Are you familiar with this? Those trendy sock brands like Happy Socks? They are really high fashion these days. And of course, these cheerful socks make you very happy. Happy Socks is a Swedish brand, and in Sweden there are a lot of tall people, as you can see in the graph. And apparently, the Swedish will only get taller in the future. How is it that the largest size of these funny Happy Socks only goes to shoe size 11.5? You might think that this is quite acceptable, but size 11.5 is not always size 11.5. No, it is actually size 8.0-11.5. Happy Socks are available in the sizes 4.0 - 7.0 and 8.0-11.5. So to make things easy, they put all men sizes 8.0 up to 11.5 on one heap. Well, I can tell you that my 13 year old son has size 8.0. So I'm supposed to wear the same size socks as my 13 year old...
Not even speaking about the products that are on sale. For most clothing brands, this is the best way to get rid of the old stock. But really, where do you find a sale in shoes size 13.5, shirts with extra long sleeves and trousers that are longer than size 36"?
PROBLEM 2: who doesn't want to be in a picture with you when you're on holiday?
When you are tall yourself, you will recognize this. You've been looking forward to this beautiful trip to an exotic island or continent. After a long time of saving money and hard work, you are going to make the trip of a lifetime. Often being in an airplane for many hours (I'll get back to this later on :) ) and finally you arrive at the destination. With a Lonely Planet guide in your hand, you are ready to start exploring the touristic sites. But guess what? That touristic site is you. Because, everywhere you go, even in the far reaches of the world, a 6'7" meter tall guy is a sight to see. The Giant so to speak. So, soon you will be touched, talked to and in most cases laughed at (or smiled at?). People want to take a picture with you. Of course that's no problem, in the beginning it's even flattering. But with a tour of 4 weeks still to go...
PROBLEM 3: a good long sit, all folded up
All great, those low budget airlines, but have you ever sat on an airplane for 6 hours, all folded up? Because of the limited spaces near the exits (there's always more leg space), the chances are slim that you can get a place on one of these seats. And if you have small children, you know that these seats can't be reserved when you check-in online. There you are, row 12. Hopefully, you were able to get an aisle-seat. At least you can give your legs a little bit more space. But dozing off for a bit or a powernap? No chance... When you just closed your eyes, the crew comes by with the trolley full of beverages and snacks. Chances are that everyone that needs to go to the toilet trips over your stretched out legs which you put in the aisle.
Hoping also that the person in front of you doesn't put the seat in the sleeping position, because then you are pretty much stuck for the whole flight and you will not be able to move. And what do you think, that you will be able to sit in the crash position when you're 6'7" tall? Tests with dummies have concluded that, in case of a crash, tall people will be beheaded right away. That's the reason the 'Tall People Club in Holland' lobbies for more leg space in airplanes. Seriously, there's a real lobby is launched by the "Klub Tall People" and the subject is even discussed in parliament. Where a small country can be great!
But not only in an airplane you have a problem when you're tall. What about busses, subways, trams and waiting rooms. For tall people, it's basically impossible to get a nice window seat in a bus. Because, where do you put your legs? You could maneuver them towards the aisle. Not so bad when a nice gentlemen of lady comes to sit next to you, but usually that's not the case...
PROBLEM 4: cycling and riding when you're tall
And cycling. Holland is of course cycling country number one. Nowhere in the world are there as many bicycles per capita as in Holland. There are 18 million bicycles in Holland, so basically, every Dutch person (from 4 years old) has a bicycle. There's 35,000 kilometers of cycling path in Holland and therefore we are a cycling-loving society. But a tall and cycling-loving society. For bicycles apply the same rules as for clothing. Bicycles for tall people are not sold in all the shops. This makes you feel that there's something wrong with you, you are left behind. It's a challenge to Google a (web) store that is specialized in bicycles with larger frames. Maybe you know a specialist?
The fact is that most tall people use a bicycle for 'normal sized' people. I know from experience that taking a sharp corner with a regular bicylce is pretty dangerous. Your knees will hit the steeringwheel all the time, so you must spread your legs when you turn a corner. This is the same for men and women who would like to ride a motorcycle.
PROBLEM 5: great to have a town car when you're tall?
I'm almost 6'7" tall myself and especially in Holland (kind of crowded and densely populated) it is easy to have a small town car available. A little one, easy to park and doesn't cost too much in taxes. But a small car and a tall man are quite a challenge. Virtually impossible. I have taken a test drive in a Mazda MX5 before, one of those small cars, convertible and close to the ground. I barely fit inside. The seat is pushed all the way back and your legs are fumbled up under the steering wheel. Everything is smaller in that car. So the brake and the accelerator are so close together that when someone with shoe size 11.5 tries to give more gas, he will automatically push the brake as well.
Also for Rob Bruintjes, officially the tallest man in Holland with 7'3", a town car is not an option.
PROBLEM 6: sleeping in beds when you're tall
Have you ever been amazed by the length of a hotel bed abroad? A bed with a length of 5'8" is often encountered. When you are stretched out completely, you won't fit in it. Not even when you have a regular length and come from Holland. Let alone if you're longer than average and more close to 6'6" tall. Often they also have a railing or board at the end, meaning that you have to lie in a fetal position all night.
PROBLEM 7: camping and sleeping in a tent
And what about camping? The Dutch are quite the traveling folk. Everywhere in the world you bump into Dutch people when you're on holiday, and camping is in the number 1 national sport for the summer. We all tend to draw each year to France for a couple of weeks for instance. Nicely settled on a campsite at the Cote d'Azur or in the Provence. In a luxury tent which is already completely furnished (we call that 'glamping') or simply with your own tent or caravan. But sleeping in a tent when you're taller than 6'2"? The best of luck to you.
But there is hope. Several companies have made camping for taller people possible, with caravans that are higher than average for example.
PROBLEM 8: the heigth of the shower head
From experience I can say that the bathrooms in most hotels or apartments abroad are not designed for (or by) tall people. In many cases, you have to shower in a bathtub, there's no separate shower cubicle. You are already standing about 0'6" higher, but the ceiling is of course not raised. So, when you are able to fit yourself in position and you don't hit your head against the ceiling, this means of course that the shower head is not attached to the ceiling. Your hair will not get wet anyway, with a little luck your shoulders will.
Or nicely stretched out in a warm bath, relaxing and chilling out after a busy day? Sounds amazing, but really, for taller people this is just not possible.
PROBLEM 9: looking in the mirror during shaving
The bathroom is often a source of annoyance for tall people. You've already read about taking a bath or an invigorating shower.
But there's another discomfort, mostly in the bathroom: the position of the bathroom mirror. In most bathrooms you can find a small mirror, at least in hotel rooms. These are often positioned for, and by, someone with an average length, like the person who hung the mirror or the architect. But to see if your hair looks a bit ok, or during shaving, chances are very high that you continuously stand with a curved back to be able to look in the mirror.
PROBLEM 10: bumping your head
In Holland, most doors have become a little bit taller in the past years, so that taller people are able to go through a door easily. However, this has not always been the case. This picture illustrates that clearly. On the right, a house from the Middle Ages in Leiden and on the left a modern house from the 1930s. The difference in door height is obvious. But also in Holland, let alone abroad, chances are that you will bump your head at least once a week. Whether it's against the door frame, a low hanging lamp or shop signs. Too many examples to even start mentioning them all.
Being tall also has advantages
In addition to these 10 most common problems for tall people, being tall also has its advantages. At a concert, many people have trouble seeing the stage, but tall people always have the feeling that they are in the front row. It can also be an advantage when you're looking for someone in a crowd or when your are participating in a race. Nevertheless, it's easier to mention the problems rather than the advantages. Perhaps you recognize yourself in the above mentioned problems (or advantages)? We'd like to hear your experiences!