6′ 9″: The highs and lows

Jackson Wiegerink

Jackson Wiegerink (left) showcasing his height

“How old are you?”


“How tall are you”


“Do you play basketball?”


   Hi, I’m Jackson Wiegerink and I’m a really tall high schooler. That is an everyday conversation for someone my size along with other corny questions like “How’s the weather up there?” and “Can I borrow some of your height?” Being tall has its perks, but it also has its downsides. For example, finding pants is close to impossible. When I complete the mission of finding some that fit, though, the feeling is unmatched. Being tall is great, but there is such a thing as “too tall.”

   Come join me for a normal day and I will point out all the disadvantages of being my height. I wake up in my twin extra-long bed that my feet still hang off of. I look down at the pajamas I cut into shorts because normal pajamas are WAY too short for my legs. After I get myself out of bed, I duck under my ceiling fan on my way to the bathroom. Once I’m in the bathroom, I turn on the shower and duck under my shower curtain rod. I take a shower with the shower head squirting water directly at my sternum. My head starts to get cold since the water isn’t running over it constantly. After I lower my head to wash my hair, I finish up in the shower and get dressed for the day. I grab a shirt and a sweatshirt. Of course, I made sure the arms fit before I bought them. Then, I go grab one of my many pairs of pants. Most are purchased from a website called “American Tall”. This site makes clothing specifically for tall, skinny people like me! 

   After I complete my morning routine, I get into my 2005 Mazda Tribute. It isn’t a small car for the average person, but of course, it’s too small for me. My knees are squished to the sides of the wheel and I would love nothing more than to move my seat back another foot but it’s already all the way back, so I suck it up and drive myself to school.

   Surprisingly, school is pretty tall-person friendly. Most of the doorways are plenty tall, and most of the desks really aren’t too bad. There are definitely some troublesome areas in the school, though. There are a couple sets of doors where I hit my head if I don’t duck. Along with some of the doors, the lunch tables are close to impossible to get in and out of. The array of bars and different levers makes it difficult to get in and out without banging my knee on something. After school wraps up, I head to basketball practice. I use my height to the best of my ability. Due to my height (and extreme lack of muscle), I have bad tendinitis. After practice, I grab some ice from the trainers, strap it on my knees, and drive myself home. At home, I follow the 20 minutes of icing with 20 minutes of heat and finish it off by 20-30 more minutes of various exercises. Without my hour-long recovery routine, I would find myself in pain the next day. Most days, I still find myself waddling (painfully) around school.

   The next challenge I present to you: finding clothes. This is not an easy task standing at 6-foot-9. I order all of my pants from a special site just for tall people called “American Tall”. That site is my saving grace and my ankles would be freezing without my pants made for tall people. As for shoes, it’s rare to find a shoe store that carries a size 14. My first stop is usually Ebay because of their wide variety of brands, colors, and styles. I can usually find my shoes for below the retail price. Shirts are fairly easy to find, and shorts are just a whole lot shorter on me. 

   Whenever I go out somewhere, I can almost guarantee that I’ll be stopped by someone that mentions how tall I am. I’m immune to the “You stole all my height” and “Can you hear me all the way up there?” jokes. After time, you get used to it. I’ve learned to embrace the interaction and look at it as a way to make someone’s day better just by simply answering any questions they have. That person always walks away from the conversation with a smile on their face.

   Now that most of the negatives are out of the way, time for the positives. I’ll start with the question that any tall person gets the most: “Do you play basketball?” My response is almost always no. I like to keep people on their toes. My usual response is, “No actually, I play cricket professionally!” Seeing the surprised look on their face is always different, and I usually get a different response every time. It’s a good way to spark more conversation and break the ice. It’s helpful too, because some of the interactions are very awkward. To clear the air, no I do not play cricket. Most people just assume someone my size plays basketball. Yes, I do play basketball. Being tall is definitely an advantage. Yes, I can dunk. It might be to your surprise, but I do have to jump to dunk. Crazy, I know. 

   Another huge plus of being tall out in public is that I never lose my friends. I can spot them from way up high, or they spot me towering over anyone else. I get side tracked very easily so when I get caught looking at something at the store my friends can keep going on with their day and I know I only need to search for 30 seconds to find them because of my vantage point.

   There are positives among the negatives of buying clothes, too. Finding cool shoes is definitely a little bit easier. Even though I can’t go to your neighborhood Footlocker and buy new shoes, my size rarely sells out because all the normal-sized people take sizes 8-12 and leave the bigger sizes to the tall people. Another advantage is the lack of step stools at my house. Need something off the top shelf? The normal person would need to go grab a step stool to grab it, but I can grab it with ease AND no step stool. My speed is another advantage. I’m not super fast if it’s just a sprint, but I am a naturally gifted speed walker due to my abnormally long legs. Dancing looks weird but cool when you’re 6-foot-9. “The Worm” is a sight for all to see, and “The Wave” is awesome because of my very long arms. Taking pictures with my arms is like having a built-in selfie stick. If someone is worried about how their hair looks, I can make sure it looks good from way up high. There are plenty more good and bad things about being so tall. Despite the constant knee pain, the worry of hitting my head, and the inability to go out in public, I really do enjoy being tall.