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July 24, 2014
The Real Issue
A Tall Guy Gets a View
by Cyndie Swindlehurst


I am 6'5', taller than the average young adult. I generally stand above most crowds. The problem I have is that I have to look down when talking to most people, especially girls.  It is difficult to meet young ladies’ eyes and hold a conversation when getting a full frontal view.

Is there a way to let a sister know I am uncomfortable with my overhead view without coming across as rude or creepy?


Let me imagine the situation. You are talking to a girl whose top does not completely cover her top. You find this distracting, embarrassing or both. You have a hard time looking at the girl’s face because your eyes are — where, exactly? Are they darting to her top or are they roving around the room looking for safe harbor? It would, of course, be ungentlemanly if they were roving elsewhere.

In this situation, it is your responsibility to point your eyes where they ought to be, no matter what else draws your attention. When you are talking to another person, your eyes should be on that person’s face or on whatever object the two of you are discussing, like a painting or a fireworks display.

This rule still applies when a person’s appearance is distracting because it reveals more than you feel comfortable looking at. You must simply direct your eyes to the person’s face and ignore the rest. You can also try one of the following:

What you cannot do is say, “Marcie, excuse me, but I think your neckline is a little lower than you think it is. Could you pull it up a bit?”

No matter how delicately you say this, Marcie will hear, “I’m looking down your shirt.” She will think, “What a jerk.” She may gasp, stare at you in disbelief, laugh or say, “So why don’t you look somewhere else?” If you’re lucky, she will only mutter it and not proclaim it for the whole room to hear. Then, she will walk off.

Marcie will tell her friends — perhaps immediately, perhaps soon after — what you said and where you were looking. And even if Marcie felt more humiliated than offended, her friends will be offended on her behalf. Word will spread that you are a lecher, a pervert and a creep. Being thought rude will be the least of your problems.

Even if Marcie was wearing, from an objective point of view, a low-cut top, you will still look like a creep. Most people will agree that no matter what Marcie was wearing, it was your responsibility to point your eyes where they ought to be. They will also agree that it was not your place to tell Marcie that her clothing was immodest.

I therefore advise you to look only at a person’s face when you are conversing and to ignore whatever the person is or is not wearing. If a person’s clothing makes you uncomfortable, you should look elsewhere, ignore it or go talk to someone else. You cannot control what other people wear, but you can control your eyes.

You will be tall for the rest of your life. You must learn this discipline.

I have four more thoughts.

First, are you sure this problem is because you are tall? Have you considered that you simply tend to talk to girls in lower-cut tops? If so, and if you end up feeling uncomfortable during these conversations, you might try talking to girls wearing higher necklines.

Second, you might ask yourself if you have a particularly narrow view of how much coverage is enough coverage. It is possible you come from a home or a ward where showing skin below the collarbone is considered risqué. This view is not typical, and you might consider that modesty does not mean swathing any skin within six inches of a breast in opaque layers of fabric.

Third, this rule does not apply when a person is having an actual wardrobe failure. For example, if a button has come undone, a skirt hem has been tucked into a person’s stockings, or a zipper is down.

If your conversation partner is experiencing a wardrobe failure, it is your duty to discreetly but directly alert her to the problem. “Jenna,” you’d say quietly but clearly, without allowing your eyes to dart to the wardrobe problem, “I’m sorry, but I think one of the buttons on your blouse has come undone.”

Then, you would immediately avert your eyes and turn enough to shield her from public view as she rights the problem.

Finally, for women, there is a simple solution if you wish to prevent men from looking down your top — even inadvertently. Simply look down at yourself after you get dressed. If you can see down your own shirt, so can someone else.

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