Phobias are weird. For example, I have a friend who has a phobia about, as he puts it, “things that adhere too closely to the skin.” I found out about this because we met online dating, and on our first date I was being all girly and trying to get him to complement me and thus asked him what he thought of my tights. He refused to look at them and informed me about his phobia, explaining that he was disgusted by things like tights, spandex, and Band-Aids. I thought about being sensitive to his situation and removing my tights… until I remembered that I was wearing them in order to cover up some Band-Aids on my heels. Thankfully, it quickly became obvious that we were not going to be the romance of the century, and now I just break out the sweatpants when we hang out.
Anyways, the closest thing that I myself have to a phobia is Gumby. Ugh, I can barely bring myself to type the name of that misshapen, mold-colored, twisty hell-spawn. I find his ability to stretch himself out particularly gross – especially that second or so when the stretched bit becomes limp and then spasms a bit before snapping back into shape.
And yet, despite my phobia (or maybe even related to it?) I am kind of a stretched-out person. I have long legs, a long torso, even long fingers. This can sometimes be annoying – it’s hard to find shirts that will stay tucked in, and almost everyone gets weirdly aggressive when I tell them how tall I am (“No way you’re 5’8”, liar!” I especially get this reaction from guys who have just told me that they’re 5’9”. Maybe they can read the expression on my face that says “Oh, really, then why am I looking down on you, person who is claiming to be taller than me?”)
But generally, being an elongated person is a plus, looks-wise. Long legs have the widest-ranging appeal. One of my exes said that he wasn’t interested in me until I propped up my legs on a coffee table in front of him, which was totally a deliberate move on my part, but other long body parts are also celebrated. Chinese poetry often compares women’s fingers to scallions – delicate, white, and long and spicy, rawr – and long backs also have so much currency that 18th and 19th century painters routinely put in a couple extra vertebrae to help a lady out.
And then there’s the classic long neck. Somehow always fairly hideous on a man (think Ichabod Crane, or, I don’t know, a brontosaurus), a long neck on a woman makes people get all hot and bothered and thinking about swans. I possess some photos given to me by a suitor who was so impressed with my neck that, unbeknownst to me, he followed me around a party, took close-up pics, and then developed them himself in order to make a super-creepy stalker gift. But they’re good pictures, so I kept them.