I'm Malia, a 6'6 actress, model, author and artist. In this post, I overanalyze the changing Fashion and Film world I find myself in : )
(Photo above is clickable. Design by Debbie Nghiem : ) )
When I was a child, I like many children spent a lot of time watching cartoons, movies and television, soaking in information about the world around me, and then internalizing these things.
What I put together from the media, and then comparing it to my life, I realized by the age of 6 that I was different...
When I use the word "different", I am only referring to my physical features in this post.
I remember hearing kids in my class, and school yell things out to me that they thought was humorous, but in reality, it was far from it to me. I expect a lot of people reading this post have experienced what it feels like to be bullied, picked on, isolated etc.. for their "different".
As I approached high school, I started understanding that my height was an oddity to my life and my experience with people, with peers and with myself. I started to disassociate from my own body and turn to sports and studies for relief of this feeling of never fitting in. I became very quiet and was often described as a "soft spoken girl" who played basketball from people.
I completely identified myself by what I was processing from the world around me, and none of what I was seeing was anyone I could actually identify with. I felt very lost.
I wondered why I'd never seen someone like me on the covers of magazines, or in the media or on television except for the funny cliche, awkward, tall girl roles. I wondered if the secret dreams in my heart (that were in the arts) could ever be true and I started to disassociate from those dreams and visions because I believed I was only meant to shoot hoops for a long, long time. That all changed after various injuries (another story, for another post).
The truth is the MEDIA affects people's lives in more ways than one
There is a lot I can branch off into, like home life and parenting, lower income households and how the Media affects them the most etc.. But, for the purpose of this blog, I am going to focus it more on my journey of accepting that my large female body is uncomfortable to the world..or at least it was for a long time and how this has affected me, as well as continues to affect tall women and tall girls.
Large female bodies in general were and still are seen as something that women should seek to eliminate..by dieting, or by trying to appear smaller than they are. We've seen this for a long time, larger female bodies being told they could not wear certain patterns, clothing styles or even colors. We've been unconsciously trained to want to appear smaller through the media. Where in fact many minority cultures, if not all, celebrate larger statures and body sizes that are seen as sacred, divine and beautiful. For some reason, we as women have been inundated with toxic anglo depictions of what a "real woman" should look like, act like, be like...and my friends, this is changing:) . This is unhealthy not only for minorities, but also for anglo women as well.
We are living in an intriguing time. I've said it before in other posts, but diversity is in, and the same looking people constantly getting all of the roles and the jobs, the respect etc., this is changing and it is changing rapidly. People, women, are sick of seeing the same air brushed looks in brands and in the Entertainment world.
I can actually remember five years ago when I lived in NYC, getting told that I was uncomfortably too tall for a lot of roles, and being told to sit down at television shoots as a background actor. (First of all, my talent agent told me not to do background work, but I needed the money lol). I remember people telling me I should model, but whenever I went to castings or applied, I was rejected a lot due to being "too tall" and not plus size or skinny enough...they could not see my different as an asset to the fashion and TV world.
Flash forward to 2020
and I am being asked to walk Runway Shows and sought as an actress for the very roles I would have been rejected from just five years ago...
Is this the time where Giant Women like me can bring our stories to the forefront of society? Can we be seen as more than just a pair of long legs, and basketball skills? Can we make an impact on society to stand in our power in a way that inspires younger people and kids to stand in their full power?
I believe it is and I will continue to push this forward because people need to hear us, and see us stand confidently as woman, as human because our different has been forgotten about for a long time as well.
We've been both harshly treated by our peers growing up, laughed at by strangers every time we leave the house, harassed, told to lose weight, to gain weight, etc.. and then objectified by the world for our largeness being misunderstood as overly sexual.
As I've written in my poetry books, there is no right way to exist as woman where we can truly be free, not just yet.
The good news is that I am experiencing a time where my different is starting to be seen, heard and embraced. I sought for a long time to feel accepted by people, and the best part of that is as soon as I stopped seeking validation in others and pursued my goals and visions, I am seeing the world around me transform. Yes, people are still in awe of my height and size, yes the fashion world is a bit still hypercritical of female body sizes, but it is slowly changing and maybe that is the good to focus on.
Maybe, the door opening for tall women is not quite unlocked, but I think we never needed a door. Maybe we need to start breaking ceilings so that GIANT Women and girls can poke our heads through and crawl out and show the world we are tired of trying to play it safe.
We are tired of trying to fit in, trying to slouch, we are tired of acting parts we never were built to play.
We are Giant Women and girls and we have purposes as large as our bodies and we cannot be stopped by bullies, angry, envious people or toxic femininity/toxic masculinity. Yes, there is a thing such as toxic femininity too. We are part of the diversity movement so that one day all body types, all races/ethnicities, all genders can feel free in pursuing what they desire without the persecution of a majority denying opportunities in a prejudice way.
Beauty is unbound and limitless in its expressions.
I for one am tired of hearing people say things like "I can't do that because I look like etc...". It is time to stop these programs and start embodying, embracing, and accepting who you are and if you have dreams/goals/visions that no one who looked like you achieved, that does not mean to give up, that means you are here to achieve these things to open the doors for others to believe that they too can achieve their dreams no matter their race, gender, sexuality, body size etc., : )
I hope this empowers you in some way,
You can find me on social media here : www.instgram.com/tallwomanpowermaliaarrayah