New Year's Resolutions From the World's Tallest Woman

Sandy Allen wears a size-22 shoe, in case you are wondering. Sooner or later, everyone she meets wants to know.

On New Year's Eve at a physical rehabilitation center in Indianapolis, Ind., Allen — the world's tallest woman — has three resolutions: "I want to laugh. I want to be around children. And I want to get back on my feet."

The Guinness Book of World Records certifies Allen's height at 7 feet 7-1/4 inches. But it's been more than a year since she's stood up. Suffering from a severe bladder infection, atrophied muscles and a variety of ailments, she vows that she will walk again. "Don't laugh," she says, "But I have high hopes."

'Life's Short, I'm Not'

At 46, Allen has outlived many other giants. Unusual growth can trigger a variety of health issues. The world's tallest man, Robert Wadlow, who was 8 feet 11 inches, died at 22. The tallest woman, the 8-foot, 2-inch Zeng Jinlian of China, was just 17.

"My time could be running out," she says. "But I'll go down fighting." She has a night shirt that says it all: "Life's short, I'm Not."

Allen's whole life has been a fight. From being an outcast in Shelbyville, Ind., to working in what she called a "glorified freak show" in Niagara Falls, it's been a battle for respect. Her favorite memories are doing assembly programs for elementary school children, teaching the simple lesson, "It's OK to be different." "I felt so much like an outcast, a space alien, someone who didn't belong," she says, as she begins to promote her authorized biography, Cast A Giant Shadow (1stBooks Library) by John Kleinman. "I feel I have a duty to help others who stare up to the sky and say, 'Why me, lord?'"

One Size Fits All … But You

Imagine a world several sizes too small. Terror lurks in the bathroom. She once got her 400-pound frame stuck in a tub for several hours. "Showerheads," she says, "hit me in the bellybutton." Try washing dishes when the sink only comes up to your thigh. Try finding a pair of panty hose that fit. If anyone could complain, "I haven't a thing to wear," it was she. Allen suffers from "acromegaly," commonly known as "giant's disease." She was a normal 6-pounds, 5-onces at birth. But a tumor in the pituitary gland triggered unusual growth. By the sixth grade, she was 6 1/2 feet tall, and towered over her teacher.

"We had a graduation party at a skating ring and I was the only kid who couldn't participate," she said. "My feet were too big to rent skates. I just wanted to be like other girls." Allen couldn't get behind the wheel of a car when it came time to take driver's ed. No boy would dance with her. "They called me a beanpole, a monster, a freak. And that's what they said to my face," she said. "I could only imagine what they said behind my back." 'Why Not Go On TV And Make Some Money?'

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...