In the new Netflix original movie, “Tall Girl,” the main character Jodi Kreyman, (played by Ava Michelle), is a high schooler facing what she, a white female, poses as an issue: her height. The movie goes back in time, following her apparent dilemmas with being the obviously “tall” student in her grade. Her peers say things like, “How’s the weather up there?” and other cheesy insults. Later, throughout what felt like your average high school rom-com, Jodi is seen searching “height reduction surgery” on the internet in hopes that that will make her life a little easier. While the movie’s message of “standing tall” was trying to be achieved, it was poorly executed.
As a black female, being tall is not an issue for me (I am a 14-year-old and 5’7), unlike the movie’s obvious intentions, seeing Jodi’s dilemma depicted on screen did not relay the message of embracing your insecurities. In my school at least, there’s a lot more to be mad about than some high schooler making fun of your height. Facing issues like people asking to touch your hair and saying you “talk like a white person” is far more challenging than being 6’1 with a size 13 shoe.
There have been many media portrayals of insecurities that people of color have faced, specifically females. In movies, black females who are of a lighter complexion are more likely to be chosen for a role as well as having their hair in a certain hairdo (straightened hair versus a natural style) for a place of work or educational setting. Having been the fourth person of color (the third black person for that matter) in my elementary school class, and then seeing that only three people of color were cast in “Tall Girl” as not even relatable characters was enough for me to say “no.”
To me, “Tall Girl” is simply another Netflix movie that was created strictly for views. It just wasn’t relatable. Jodi’s height was exaggerated and from her point of view it seemed like a “big deal.” I would have preferred to see a representation of a main character who was a person of color rather than the three extras-esque roles portrayed by actors of color (two of whom played antagonists in the film).
While bullying is an issue in and out of schools, this movie did not display that in the best way possible. The issue at hand could have been something a little more than how tall the character was. Unlike the tagline for the “Tall Girl” movie poster for me at least, this movie doesn’t say “when you don’t fit in, stand tall.” Instead it says “I am exaggerating something that really isn’t that big of an issue.”
Brooklyn, 14, loves creative writing and participating in her school’s rock band.