Q: I am 5 feet tall. My fiancé is 6 feet 3 inches. We are the same age, but because of the height difference and my looks, people often assume I am in my twenties or younger (I’m thirty-four). Most days, this is great. But when my fiancés boss thinks I’m a teen, it’s anything but—he works with teens, the appearance of impropriety is very, very bad. People have joked about our height difference and I mostly ignore it. Once, a friend told me he went to a Short Bride, Tall Groom Wedding and he spent the whole time making fun of the couple (with his entire table). This is my nightmare.
I dread my family and friends making fun of how I look like a child bride next my husband. Friends and family have admitted to making fun of us when we dance together, which is why we’ve stopped doing it in public. He happens to be a trained ballroom dancer and it kills me that I can’t dance with him unless I’m wearing four-inch heels, but all my tall female friends can do it in flats without ridicule. Honestly, the only time I notice the height difference is when people point it out or I see pictures of the two of us—I literally look like a child, half his size, when I stand next to him. When it’s just me and him, no cameras or people, size doesn’t matter.
Eloping is not an option, because my mother eloped, I’m the only girl, the youngest, and the last one to marry, etc. We’ve only been engaged a month and over four hundred people have expressed wanting to share in the celebration, and I’m dreading it. How can I get into having a wedding when I’m worried everyone is just going to be making fun of us?
I don’t mean to call out every single person who has ever admitted to making fun of you guys while you dance (and anyone who has done it behind your backs), but holy wow: I am astounded that enough people (read: ONE) have made fun of you that you guys have stopped doing something you love about it. Not because of anything you’re doing, but because that sounds unkind and unnecessarily cruel and like the opposite of what anyone who loves and supports you should be doing. My hunch, however, is that you already know this. So let me start by saying that this is not okay. Not now, not ever. And the fact that the people who are supposed to love you the most are mocking you and your partner to your faces? Eff that noise. You don’t need it, and you don’t deserve it, and they need to all spend a little time examining whatever’s wrong inside that makes them feel like this is ever okay.
After all, you’re in love! You’re with someone you adore, someone who makes you feel like you, someone who you are getting ready to marry… and someone who happens to be over a foot taller than you are. From this vantage point, it sounds like two things have been happening:
- Friends and family have been making comments without thinking about what they’re saying, and
- You have been passively listening to the comments without getting mad, or at least not mad in their faces
The latter is what I think needs to change.
If I were you, I would call a family meeting basically immediately and lay it down, crystal clear: it’s time your family starts respecting your relationship and ditches the jokes. If you haven’t yet, make sure they understand the point to which they’ve driven the two of you—that you no longer even feel comfortable dancing together in public because of their words and offhand remarks. It’s entirely possible that most of them don’t realize how deeply they’ve hurt you, especially if you’ve never laid it out for them. And unfortunately, a lot of the time family truly requires a very black and white, look-them-in-the-eyes-and-speak-your-truth, laying out of the information.
After that, I would pull together your closest friends and repeat what you’re dishing to family. I realize you both have large families and tons of friends (hello, four hundred guests!) but the guiding light of wedding planning might be your saving grace: you don’t have to invite anyone who is a jerk to you, period. And you especially don’t have to invite anyone who is likely to spend one second of your wedding doing anything other than celebrating your union and having a blast.
Because here’s the rub: people are still going to make offhand comments. You can’t sit down and have a heart to heart with every person you meet about why their comments are inappropriate. If it helps, take a page from the books of others—for example, pregnant women often find themselves (and their bodies) constantly discussed by strangers and friends alike, and have harnessed a plethora of snappy comebacks when people say things off-hand. I have found that whenever someone tosses an unwarranted, weird negative comment my way, that person is usually battling an insecurity of his or her own—and the important thing is to not let that insecurity control YOUR life.
And hey, before we depart, let me also remind you that you guys are in excellent company: Will and Jada? I love them. Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher? They look amazing together. Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd have a huge height difference, and they just slayed the world when they dropped their homage to Toto. In other words, there are plenty of real-life examples of how and why height difference isn’t a big deal (and hopefully you already know that, too).
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)