Growing up I never felt self conscious about my height, until I reached adulthood, and had to learn the hard way,of how important your clothing choices were in regards to the impression you made, and the way people treated you.
At my little primary school in Chelsea , I was one of the smallest in my class, and that didn't really change much when I moved on to my secondary school in Richmond, but this time not only was I one of the smallest in my class, I also became one of the smallest in my year!. As the years rolled on my classmates shot up in height, and most of the boys towered over me, which meant I was often picked up and carried around unexpectedly at random times of the day.
At this point buying clothes was easy and enjoyable, as I could shop in the teenage sections of the high street stores, and keep up with the current fashion trends.
It wasn't until my first year at beauty college, where finding clothes to fit started to become a struggle.
For starters the smallest size of the uniform we had to wear was miles to big, luckily for me my Nan was good at alterations.
When my friends started to shop more in womenswear, I still needed to shop in the children's sections, but the clothing on offer didn't really reflect my changing image, and what was in fashion at the time, plus I found it to be quite immature looking. Buying clothes that didn't fit became the norm, but thankfully my Nan was on hand to fix whatever needed to be done in order for me to look presentable.
OH THATS WHY
Towards the end of my first year at college, I began to feel tired all the time ,falling asleep in the day, and my weight had dropped below six stone, and worst of all I began losing a lot of hair.
After some blood tests ordered by my GP, I found myself booked in for an emergency MRI scan on a Sunday morning. At the time, though I didn't know it , the doctors were looking for a brain tumor, which thankfully I didn't have, but after some further tests I was later diagnosed with the endocrine disorder "Growth hormone deficiency". Without boring you with the medical terms , everything to to with growth is affected including my height, and so within a couple of days of my 17th birthday I started injecting with growth hormone every night. At first I was a bit wary about starting it, until I read that in Hollywood it is haled as the elixir of youth, and beauty companies have been trying to get it into their beauty products for years, but as yet it only works in injection form, and is only safe for people to take who lack this particular hormone. After a few months of taking it, my energy levels, and skin had improved along with some healthy weight gain, and my hair was also showing signs of improvement as well.
Growth hormone deficiency, if caught early enough,enables the patient to reach their genetic height, or even more. The famous footballer Lionel Messi was diagnosed at the age of 11 and has gone on to be rated as one of the top footballers. Even though my diagnoses had been made quite late, mainly because the women in my family are all round 5.2 , so for me being short didn't really seem like anything out of the norm, but even so, I have still manage to get a small increase in my height just scraping 4ft11, and who knows, I could reach my predicted height of 5ft.1, as I will remain on growth hormone until the age of 25.
PETITE GIRL IN A BIG WORLD
While recovering, and getting use to my new diagnoses, and side effects it came with, I went back to college. first studying art and design, then onto a two year specialist make-up course at West Thames College, which was amazing. After finishing my national diploma, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do ,so I began volunteering at my local oxfam boutique in Chelsea, where not only did I develop a passion for fashion ,but I also developed an addiction to shopping in charity shops, as I do love a good bargain.
It wasn't long before I got my first proper job at Laura Ashley on the iconic kings road.
Each season we had to wear the clothing collection as our uniform, and even though they went down to a size 8 ,you've guessed it, they were too big, so each time I had to get them altered to fit, but that wasn't to be my main problem.
At first I chose clothing that I would normally go for ie , really cute dresses that were a fit and flare sort of style, but because of my height and baby face I didn't realise that they made me look about 12 , and so the customers treated me as such. Customers were really rude, they did not want to deal with me, or want my opinion or help, and would often ask to speak to someone else instead. At the time I didn't think they were treating me like this because of how I appeared, I just thought wow, these customers are really tough!. Then a new collection came in and we had to choose which items we wanted as our uniform for the season ahead, this time, just by chance, I chose more mature, smart classy dresses, that were fitted in style, and these also showed off my figure.
From the first day I wore them I couldn't believe the changes in peoples reaction to me. The customers started treating me totally different ,like I was a different person , they were now asking me for my opinion and advice, and often asked me to show them where the dress was, that I was wearing!.I even had customers asking for me personally,and a couple of them even brought me cakes, and on one occasion a customer asked me to consider working for them at their concession store within Harrods.
Some of you may say," oh you probably just got better at your job", but no, as when I reverted back to the old style of dresses, the rudeness from the customers returned also, which made me feel self conscious about my height, so from that point I only chose the sophisticated dresses to wear, which gave me an added confidence boost, and also enabled me to do my job properly.
Of course this effected my clothing choices I made outside of work as well, and here too I found people reacted to me differently.
Now when out shopping I always keep this in mind when deciding on a new purchase ,it maybe a super cute item , but its not worth it, if I end up feeling rubbish in it, and I've also learnt to steer clear of the fashion trends that don't suit the petite frame, but every so often, I do give in to temptation, as I am only young after all, and hopefully have a life time of looking mature, but at least I have learnt that if I want to be taken seriously, and treated as an adult clothing choices are crucial.
I have learnt to embrace my height, and turn it into a positive when people try and use it to put me down, plus its a good excuse for my massive shoe collection, as you can never have too many high heels I say!
Poppy Chanelle x