World's Tallest Woman - Analysis
The rest of the images appear to be unaltered, however, and were apparently culled from HeatherHaven.com, the website of a real, live woman who calls herself Heather and claims to stand 6 feet 5-1/2 inches tall in her bare feet (and over 7 feet tall in high heels). She is not from Holland, however; nor, if those statistics are correct, is she really the tallest woman in the world.As of 1999 that distinction, according to The Guinness Book of World Records, belonged to 7-foot 7-1/4-inch Sandy Allen of Indiana.
(Update: Sandy Allen died in August 2008 at the age of 53. The current record holder, at 7 feet 9 inches, is Yao Defen of China.)
(Update #2: It has been reported that World's Tallest Woman Yao Defen died in November 2012.)
Even so, Heather is no pipsqueak, even if the photos of her are somewhat misleading (she consistently poses in high heels next to people of shorter-than-average height, thereby enhancing her stature -- not that there's anything wrong with that). Albeit with considerably more glamor and self-determination, she is basically marketing herself as a modern-day sideshow attraction à la Anna Swan of P.T. Barnum fame circa mid-1800s.
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Born in New Annan, Nova Scotia at a weight of 18 pounds, Anna Swan grew to a height of 7 feet 11 inches by the age of 15 and became one of the more popular "curiosities" at Barnum's American Museum in Manhattan, where she was billed as The Tallest Woman in the World (never a stickler for accuracy, Barnum advertised her height at "over 8 feet tall"). Though she barely escaped with her life when the musuem burned to the ground in 1865, Swan continued to tour with Barnum for years afterward and even convinced her 7-foot 9-inch husband to join the show for a time. She died of heart failure in 1888.
As a benchmark, the average height for an adult American female is currently 5 feet 3.7 inches.
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Sources and further reading:
Website of "Heather, the Ultimate Amazon"
Goodbye to Sandy Allen, World's Tallest Woman
About.com: Weird News with Buck Wolf
Anna Swan (1846-1888)
Library and Archives Canada
The Urban Legends Slide Show
A cornucopia of weird, wacky images
Last updated: 12/05/12