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My Giant Life may have wrapped in 2017, but we can't forget the TLC show or its larger-than-life stars. Each of the show's main cast members is over six feet and six inches tall, and each also has a vibrant personality that made for some pretty compelling reality TV. Over the show's three seasons, the lives of eight women were portrayed.
There was former professional volleyball player Colleen 'Coco Smith', German immigrant Katja Bavendam, newlywed Haleigh Hampton-Carvalho, actress Lindsay Kay Howard, entrepreneur Alicia Jay, and life coach Krista Kay Rabenberg . High school student and basketball player Nancy Mulkey also appeared in the first season of My Giant Life, but didn't stay for the next two seasons, and Lexie Crist appeared in Season 2, leaving the show after getting married in the season finale. The show explored what it is like to be an extraordinarily tall woman living a (mostly) normal life. If you've missed the ladies of My Giant Life, keep reading for the inside scoop on these amazing women.
Many of the cast members are from tall families
How are the women of My Giant Life so tall? Plain and simple genetics. Katja's mother is six feet tall, and her father and sister are both six foot three. Colleen's dad is six foot two, although her mother is only five foot eight. Lindsay's dad is six foot seven, while her mom is just under six feet at five foot eleven.
Nancy's whole family is also tall with her brothers measuring in at over seven feet. She said that people stare at them and even take pictures when they are out in public. 'It's weird because my mom is tall but no one pays attention to her when she's out by herself,' she told ESPN. 'But when she's out with me and my brothers, people stare and take photos. My mom doesn't realize it, or it could just be because it didn't happen to her earlier in her life. I think with the technology we have now, it's a lot easier to take a picture.'
Dating is tricky because of the intimidation factor
When you're much taller than the average person, a lot of things can be difficult, including dating. The ladies of My Giant Life have found that their height is often intimidating to other people, and this has an impact on their romantic relationships. Lindsay told SheKnows that she holds out for taller men 'because I don't want to feel like I'm holding a child's hand.'
She added that the things she finds most attractive in a man are his confidence and personality, which makes finding that special someone tricky, because many men can't deal with the fact that she is taller than them. Her height and her fame, however, have helped her rule out men who aren't compatible with her. 'It's very intimidating, I guess, being 6'9″ and a woman, so it helps weed out the ones that aren't confident enough because if you're too insecure you're not gonna be able to deal with it,' she said. 'I've had many relationships break because I get so much attention.'
Colleen prefers to date guys who are shorter than her
Unlike many women, Colleen doesn't have a problem dating men who are shorter than her. This is a good thing, since she stands at six feet and six and a half inches tall, and finding men around her height can be a challenge. While she has dated taller men, she has learned that tall men are even more intimidated by her height. 'Tall guys don't want to date tall girls' she told The San Diego Union-Tribune, explaining that tall men are used to being the tall one in the relationship and therefore don't like that position being taken over.
For Colleen, the sweet spot is from five feet and 10 inches to six feet and three inches. The biggest draw for her is a confident man who isn't bothered by her height. The reality star revealed that men will often chat her up at the bar, but their expressions change as soon as she stands up and they see her full height. She admitted to having fun startling them with her tallness. 'You have to entertain yourself a little,' she said.
A lot of everyday things are harder for the cast
Many things that a person of average height takes for granted present unique challenges to the women of My Giant Life. Even simple things can be difficult. Katja told the New York Post that she always pays more for extra leg room on flights, avoids lengthy bus trips, and even hesitates to see a show because theater seats are uncomfortable for someone of her height. Fitting into the subway is also a potentially hazardous thing for her, thanks to its low ceilings.
For Colleen, finding a car with enough leg room and finding clothes that fit her are just two things that make her life more difficult. Furniture, counters, and sinks are also put at an inconvenient level. The My Giant Life star has a part-time catering business, and had to build a special table for food prep that was more than a foot higher than average. The biggest challenge, though, is the stares she gets in public. 'I can't make a mistake in public because everyone remembers, 'It was the tall girl,' she told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Being so tall comes with some pretty cool perks
While there are a lot of difficult things about being so tall, it's not all bad. There are some perks to being over six and a half feet tall. For one, 'You never get lost in a crowd,' Colleen told SheKnows. 'Concerts are my favorite place to be tall — you can be in the back row. Maybe one thing that's kind of a bummer is that you can't be right up front because people will get really upset. But I'm usually in the middle, and I have at least 10 feet behind me, so that's my own little dance floor.'
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For Lindsay, the biggest asset is being viewed as a natural leader. 'It's taught me responsibility; it's taught me self-respect and it's taught me mutual respect for everybody else,' she said. 'I think that's the thing that I love about it is that you just get to be a leader and be yourself. You get to own it; you get to be confident. You have that opportunity, and a lot of people don't.'
Extreme height can come with unwanted attention
Not only do the women of My Giant Life deal with all of the regular pressures that come with having a famous face that (literally) stands out from the crowd, but they also get some unwanted admirers who are less than respectful of their privacy. The attention they get can become pretty creepy.
Katja decided to join the cast of My Giant Life since people were already so invasive that she figured she might as well put her life on TV. 'I get approached so much and my picture is floating around on fetish websites; I already feel like a public person,' she told the New York Post. 'I might as well have some fun with it.. because my life already feels like I'm part of a show. People [on the street] feel entitled to talk to me and ask for my life story.'
Krista's secret weapon to combat bullies
The women of My Giant Life have found different ways of dealing with the haters. Krista has one secret weapon to combat anything negative directed towards her: She's been fighting back with laughter since her pre-teen years. 'Middle school was probably the worst for me. My main coping method was comedy,' she told Life & Style. 'I would just agree with what people would say in a joking manner, which takes the power away from the bully. How people treat you reflects who they are and NOT who you are.'
Today, she's turning her secret weapon into a budding stand-up career. 'I have increased my knowledge of comedy by practicing at open mics, watching comedians online and writing down funny things that happen to me because of how tall I am,' she told Prairie Wife in Heels. 'There is literally new material every day! The jokes write themselves.'
Lindsay is a Guinness World Record holder
Lindsay has led a glamorous life, even outside the show. The reality star is also an actress, and even holds a Guinness World Record. She was awarded the record for tallest actress in a leading role in the 2013 film R100.
Lindsay's decision to be on My Giant Life also ties into her acting. 'First of all, I'm an actress so I feel that one of the most important things for me is sharing my message, which is to help young girls, women and really anyone to just own what makes them unique,' she told SheKnows. 'To have that opportunity to share that message and be like, 'Here's what I went through and I know you may be going through something that's not the same, but you can relate with me.' When I was (younger), I didn't have anyone to relate with.. I would just love to have that ability to relate with people.'
Alicia struggled growing up not just because of her height, but also her race
Growing up tall is difficult because kids are often bullied for things that make them different. 'Kids are mean if you have short hair or big ears, so to be tall, I think it was definitely a little more challenging,' Colleen told My Giant Life.
For Alicia, however, things were even harder because she wasn't just teased for her height, but for her race as well. 'Kids were mean little things,' she wrote on her website,TallSwag.com. 'They always found a way to make the same comment hurt like a new one. As I grew older (pun intended) I found myself to not only be the tallest one in school but also the blackest. That's not very PC but that is exactly what it was. I, and a handful of other kids, were the only ethnic people in my school. Thus, I was double different and got double the input. There wasn't a day that went by where I wasn't reminded that I wasn't normal.'
Haleigh thought the show was a joke when she was first approached about starring
When Haleigh was approached about starring on My Giant Life, she thought the whole thing was a joke. The miscommunication very nearly led to her not being on the show at all. She was a student athlete at Clemson University when the producers of My Giant Life contacted her volleyball coach. 'We thought it was a joke,' Haleigh told Times Free Press. 'We had a really good laugh about it. Coach emailed back, 'Haleigh is onboard.'
Haleigh didn't actually realize that the show was real until a casting agency interviewed her on Skype. Her then-boyfriend, Bryan Carvalho, was also interviewed. At five feet and eight inches, he's nearly a foot shorter than his now-wife, who measures in at six feet and seven inches. As we now know, the couple nailed the interview and their blossoming relationship and eventual marriage was one of the best parts of the show.
Nancy almost missed the deadline to be on the show
Haleigh isn't the only My Giant Life cast member who almost missed her shot at being on the show. Nancy, at 17, was the youngest person to appear on the show. She was recruited through her high school basketball coach, who forgot to tell her about receiving an e-mail from the show's producers until two days before the deadline.
'I told my mom about it as soon as I heard,' Nancy told ESPN. 'She thought about it and said, 'That would be cool, to just let everyone know about the struggles that tall people go through.' So, we did a Skype interview with someone from the show. They asked me questions about my height and my life, and then shortly after I found out TLC picked me.'
Nancy never expected to end up on TV, but was excited for the opportunity. 'I really don't know what words there are to describe it — it took my breath away,' she said about finding out she had been cast on the show.
Nancy loves her height and 'wouldn't trade it for the world'
Like many of her castmates, Nancy was not always comfortable with being so tall. She grew up in a tall family, so it wasn't until kindergarten that she realized she was taller than average. 'We would line up in alphabetical order for lunch and it would be short, short, short, short and then all of a sudden there was me standing way above everyone else, and then right back to short, short, short,' she told ESPN. 'Like a rollercoaster! Or maybe just a really steep hill. I don't know how tall I was then, but in seventh grade I was 6'7.'
Nancy added that she hates it when people stare at her, but that she loves being tall. 'If I wasn't 6'9, I don't know if I would be going to college on a basketball scholarship,' she said. 'I just love being tall. How do you hide the taskbar. I wouldn't trade it for the world.'
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Krista believes she was 'born into this body for a reason'
Being so tall isn't easy, but Krista believes that there is a purpose for her height. The former basketball player told Prairie Wife in Heels that after she left the sport, she struggled with her identity. 'I worked almost my entire life to improve at this sport, then it ended abruptly,' she said. 'I knew I was born into this body for a reason and it was a bigger reason than just to put a ball in a hoop.' The belief that she was born for a 'bigger reason' led Krista to get a master's degree in counseling and then to become a motivational speaker. Her goal, according to the website for her public speaking services, Krista Kay Coaching, is 'to guide people towards self-acceptance, confidence, and happiness.'
Krista added, 'I hope you are motivated to take control over your happiness and shift your focus and energy towards what you can control. Lastly, I want people to walk out of the room and be proud of who they are, not ashamed of how someone else sees them.'
One of Katja's goals on the show was to promote the LGBT community
Katja's extraordinary height meant that her chances of ending up with someone shorter than her were likely, but at 5'2, her wife's height makes for a staggering difference of more than a foot between their heights. The height difference isn't the only thing notable about their participation on the show. Out of the cast, Katja is the only one in a same-sex relationship. One of the reasons she wanted to be on the show was to promote the LGBT community. 'I also wanted to create some awareness and put ourselves out there as a lesbian couple, knowing that there will be a lot of viewers that don't approve of that.' she told the Windy City Times. 'We wanted to reach at least one person that won't see us as scary and open their minds up.'
Katja added, 'We wanted to put ourselves out there as part of the LGBT community. While we are a bit unique with two women having a baby, I hope everyone can relate to us. I'm glad they picked us to have some social diversity in the show.'