Towering above her relatives, friends and everyone at school, 14-year-old Marvadene Anderson is the centre of attention wherever she goes.
The 6 feet 9 inches tall teen is a member of Jamaica's Under-16 Netball team.
A grade-nine student at the Edwin Allen Comprehensive High, School, Anderson said she had a major growth spurt when she was just 12. "When I was in grade six at primary school, I just started to spring up," she said.
Cheerful and pleasant
The cheerful and pleasant netballer laughed as she talked about her legs hanging from her bed. "Is di same size bed like everyone else, but mi foot dem long offa it."
Anderson explained that it was sometimes hard for her to find clothes, especially jeans and shoes. She wears a size 12. "It's hard to get pants and shoes. I can only get knickers [short pants]. I don't even have one pair. Mi walk and walk. Mi go May Pen and even when mi go Antigua [for the Caribbean Netball Championships], I couldn't find anyting."
Travelling by bus, taxi and even by air, takes some special effort. "I had to sit at the front of the plane, I got seat 20, but I had to sit at seat 5. If I'm in a taxi I have to push back the seat very far and if someone is at the front, they have to pull up their chair. If I'm in a bus, I have to either sit at the front or in the conductor's seat. Sometimes I have to bend to go into places too, but I don't like when people see me doing it, cause they'll laugh."
When THE STAR visited Anderson at her Prospect, Clarendon, home, it was easy to see that height was a very dominant family trait. Her mother, Dianne Stewart, is 6 feet tall, while her father, Garrett Anderson is 6 ft 4 inches tall. Her 17-year-old sister is 6 ft 4 inches tall and a male cousin, also 17, is 6ft 6 inches tall.
Though she does not feel strange walking around with her friends who are needless to say, much shorter than she is, she admitted it was sometimes humorous. "Sometimes mi feel well taller than them because if I'm whispering in their ears, I have to bend down," she said.
As expected, Anderson is often quizzed by complete strangers. "People ask me if I play netball, hold old I am and how tall I am. Sometimes even the same person ask me the same question over and over. Even when I went to Antigua, people were asking me," she said. Anderson was the tallest player at the tournament.
Anderson has not suffered much teasing or ridicule because of her height, but added that in the rare events that her height is used to poke fun at her, she does not find it offensive. "They used to call me giant at primary school and even in high school. They call me baby giant, but I jus laugh it off. I'm happy the way I am," she said.
She revealed that her peers are sometimes intimidated by her height and some are afraid to approach her. She said, with a smile, "If they're taking to me and I'm sitting down, as soon as I get up, they run away."
Her mother Dianne explained that Anderson's friends sometimes use her height to their advantage. "If someone wants to fight with them, dem wi jus seh, mi a go fi Bubbles [Anderson's nickname] and dem run gone."
Just 14, Anderson hasn't given much thought to how or where she might one day find a husband to match her height. She was however very amused by the idea.
Just one year into the game of netball, Anderson is already making headlines and plans to continue in this vein. She also plans to pursue law. Her mother said, "I'm very proud of her. I know she will be on top. Just to relax and see my girl on the 'tele' and read about her in the paper, I am proud of my baby."