When Netflix announced in November of last year that they were casting for a new movie set in high school about a tall girl, my dear coworker Esther Zuckerman immediately forwarded me the email. Seconds later I was in a Facebook DM with my tallest best friend from school, who now lives in New Orleans where the movie would be filmed and set, both of us half-joking that one or the other ought to prepare an acting reel. When you're tall, being tall becomes your thing whether you want it to or not.
A couple months later, Netflix sent out another announcement: "Ava Michelle, who is 6 feet and 1 inch tall, will play Jodi, a 16 year old who must embrace what makes her different and be proud to stand out, not fit in." I was thrilled. She's so tall -- an inch taller than me even! I would have started a one-woman riot if Netflix had tried to sell 5'10" as tall enough to make an entire movie about. When the trailer for the movie was finally released, I Slacked my boss that day, "I physically need to write a thinkpiece about Tall Girl. My body will decay and crumble into dust if I don't." When I got back to the office, I fired up my screener of the movie, folded each of the six joints in my long, long legs, and settled in.
Tall Girl actually does have a pretty good grasp on what it means to be a tall girl, especially a tall girl in high school, the worst time in your whole life to be a tall girl. Director Nzingha Stewart's film begins with Jodi flirting with a nice young boy in the school library, trading facts about A Confederacy of Dunces. He stands up to go say hello, and she stands as well, except when she stands up it takes her a full five seconds to complete the movement. She towers over her classmate like a cartoon as he cowers beneath her, makes a quick excuse, and books it. "Being a tall guy is great," Jodi says at the movie's midpoint. "But when you're a tall girl, it's the only thing that people see."