The Relationships in “Tall Girl” Were Problematic, Here’s Why *Spoilers*

Tall Girl, one of the more recent teen rom-coms to come out on Netflix, is meant to be a story of loving yourself for who you are and learning to accept the love of others. Jodi is a 16 year old girl who is 6’1 (and a half), wears size 13 Nikes (men’s), and is self-conscious about her height. She has two friends, Fareeda and Dunkleman. Fareeda is funky and confident, and Dunkleman is obsessed with Jodi. Things seem to look up for her when a tall, handsome, Swedish exchange student shows up and takes an interest in her. Hijinks ensue, and in the end Jodi accepts herself (I think?) and she and Dunkleman fall in love.

The relationships in this movie were not ideal. Jodi’s father is introduced into the movie in a scene from Jodi’s childhood where he toys with the idea of stunting her growth with hormones which could render Jodi infertile. Later in her life, he attempts to console her by inviting a club for tall people, the “Tip Toppers,” to their home as a surprise. Her mother defines “adversity”  as having too many suitors and being disliked for being too beautiful. Meanwhile her sister, Harper, parades around in pageant dresses, 5’0 tall, and gives advice on boys while being half-baked. Jodi’s sister seems to be the only person, besides her friend Fareeda, who actually cares about Jodi’s happiness as she is. Her family seems to believe that her happiness would come from Jodi finding people like her, instead of that happiness existing within her.

The romantic relationships in the movie leave you wanting more. In the end we are meant to be happy that Jodi and Dunkleman end up together, but I find it to be a little creepy. Dunkleman carried around a crate for years, with the sole idea of using it to kiss a woman who was not interested in him. Jodi’s reasons for not dating Dunkleman went beyond his height. She felt too close to him. When Jodi gets a shot with Stig, the Swedish exchange student, Dunkleman purposefully interferes with that chance. He then moves on to a different girl, seemingly happily. He gets into a fight with Stig, who uncharacteristically is a jerk about Jodi’s feelings for him. Jodi ends up with Dunkleman anyway, regardless of whether she cares for him or just wants to be liked by someone. 

In the end, this movie just really missed the mark. A movie that was meant to be about loving yourself for who you are was really just about settling for something you didn’t want. The movie made a bigger deal about Jodi being 6’1 than about the toxic relationships or the bullying she experienced. Instead of demonstrating how someone could learn to love and accept themselves, this only showed that in order to be happy you have to be romantically involved with someone else. Teaching young people that their happiness, acceptance, and self confidence comes from others is a poor lesson for a movie that had the potential and the platform to say something far more important.