By Rebecca Drew
THIS FORMER Team GB athlete now stands proud at SIX-FOOT-FOUR after successfully representing her country in taekwondo and previously spending years hating her height and wishing she was like other girls but admits that dating can sometimes be a struggle as not many men are taller than her.
Retired Team GB athlete, lettings negotiator and taekwondo coach, Jade Slavin (26) from County Durham, United Kingdom, has embraced her amazing 6ft 4 height after hating how she looked throughout her school years and being shy thanks to bullies who would poke fun out of her, calling her ‘ugly’ and ‘a freak’.
Jade would often go home in tears to her mum, Catherine, thanks to cruel bullies and strangers who would whisper about her in the street and try to take photos without her knowing.
This left Jade longing to be shorter like other girls her age but at 16 she decided to try modelling to boost her body confidence but her mindset soon changed for good when she was offered a place to represent Team GB in taekwondo at the age of 21. She went on to win the commonwealth championships in Glasgow in 2014, making two world championships and European championships. It soon became clear to Jade that her height contributed to her success in the sport as she had the leg length that other athletes longed for.
Now Jade is proud of who she is and no longer slouches in photos with her friends nor looks down when she is walking down the street and she focusses on the positive reactions she receives for her height instead of the negatives.
However, she admits that she sometimes struggles to find clothes to fit her gorgeous 49.9-inch long outside legs and men to date who are a similar height to her as there aren’t many tall guys in her area.
“When I was at school, I hated being tall. I was bullied for my looks and I was painfully shy. I had no confidence in myself and hated the way I looked. When I was around 16 or 17, I got into modelling to boost my confidence,” she said.
“The thing I struggled with the most was people’s comments when I was out shopping. I’d often hear and see people whispering about me or taking sly photos of me without me knowing which really knocked my confidence.
“I’ve had many horrible comments over the years from girls whispering, ‘I’d hate to be that tall’ to getting jokes about my height whenever I got out to a bar or pub which isn’t too bad but when you hear the same joke constantly, it does become annoying.
“I’ve been called ugly, a freak and had people say, ‘you’re actually quite pretty for being so tall’ which is kind of a back handed compliment. Before if I had received these negative comments, I would be upset for days after and thinking why am I different and hating myself.
“I hated being tall and different. I just wanted to be like every other girl who can wear heels and not get strange looks and whispering comments all the time. But since I joined Team GB, I was proud of who I am and representing my country.
“I was proud to be tall as I would not have been where I was if I was not tall. It brought me a lot of success and now when people make comments in the street and think I can’t hear them I just smile at them and it makes them feel a bit silly that I heard them. But most of the time people make nice comments and are amazed by my height.
“One of the main struggles I face is finding clothes to fit my extremely long legs. Not many shops offer tall sections and if they do there is not much choice.
“Another struggle is dating as I like boys to be the same height or taller than me and there aren’t many tall boys in my area. Lastly, probably learning to love my height as it’s taken me all my life to be confident and embrace my height. After many years of hating myself and feeling so down I am finally happy with my body and appearance.”
For Jade, being tall has contributed to her success as a Team GB athlete in taekwondo, after loving all sports from football and netball to athletics and swimming growing up. It also means that she can always reach things that others can’t and gets the best view at concerts.
Finally, Jade gave her words of advice to others who might feel insecure about their height.
“I am still learning to love myself but I am a lot more confident in myself and don’t slouch in photos with my friends any more, I stand tall in photos and hold my head up when I’m walking down the street as before I would often look down and try to go unnoticed,” she said.
“Don’t ever let anyone bring you down. I spent so much time hating myself and would cry to my mam wishing I was ‘normal’.
“But embrace being different. It has brought me so much success being tall which I would not have achieved if I was smaller.
“Embrace who you are and don’t let anybody dull your sparkle.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/jadeslavin92