Probably right from our very beginning, we have witnessed several unusual occurrences including people who are very different from the norm for one reason or the other. The peculiarity of these people has earned unrelenting fascination from the rest of society. Let’s discuss some of such people, the tallest women that ever lived and their heights.
It is imperative to note that height is one of the first things that get noticed about a person. As such, these women had to deal with the weird attention they got in addition to the health issues that came with the condition. Thankfully, most of them were able to make the best out of life, thereby serving as a source of inspiration for many.
Tallest Women That Ever Lived and Their Heights
1. MARIA FASSNAUER (7 FEET 4 INCHES)
One of the tallest women that ever lived was Maria Fassnauer, born in 1879, in Southern Tyrol, Italy. Her parents were poor and she had five younger siblings, all of normal height. She didn’t start exhibiting abnormal growth rates until she was three. She soon grew to be remarkably tall and was referred to as the Giantess of Tirol.
Her great height earned her offers from several traveling circuses, but her parents turned them all down until Maria decided to join a sideshow on her own. Accompanied by her sister, she toured all over the United Kingdom and Europe, earning a decent living and the admiration of thousands of people. Maria retired in 1913 due to health issues and the arrival of World War I. She was 38 when she passed away from dropsy in 1917.
9. ELLA EWING (7 FEET 4.5 INCHES)
While she was alive, Ella Ewing was the tallest woman in all of America. She was born in 1872, in Missouri, and lived till 1913. Her rapid growth began when she was nine years old, and she continued growing right up until she died. At 14, Ella boasted a height of 6 feet 10 inches. She wore size 24 shoes and has a difficult time using the train and other means of transport because of her great height.
Instead of locking herself indoors to avoid people gawking at her, Ella performed with sideshows and circuses, including the famous P.T Barnum and Bailey Circus, 1893 Columbian Exposition, and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. She earned a handsome living this way and was able to afford her special needs, like a house that could fit her properly. She retired from touring and lived with her parents until she died of pneumonia. Most people agree that Ella may have eventually grown to be taller than her documented height.
8. DELORES PULLARD (7 FEET 5 INCHES)
For a long time, Delores Pullard was hailed as America’s tallest woman. She was born in 1947, in Louisiana, to a couple of regular height. Her mother was 5’11, while her father was 5’9. Delores’ excessive height was the unfortunate result of a tumor growing adjacent to her pituitary gland, and by the age of 14, she was measuring 6 feet 10 inches. At 19, she began performing at sideshows, where she was billed as the “Tallest Woman in the World” and given a height of 8 feet 2 inches. Like the rest of her kind, Delores’ feet were massive and she wore size 23 shoes. She underwent a medical procedure to remove her tumor but suffered complications that resulted in her death a week after in 1971. Even though she was over 24 at the time of her passing, Delores had not ceased growing.
7. ANNA HAINING SWAN (7 FEET 5.5 INCHES)
While most other giants start growing rapidly after a certain age, Anna Haining Swan was actually a large baby when she was born. Born in 1846, in Nova Scotia, Canada, the newborn weighed 23 pounds and kept on exceeding the normal growth curve. By age four, Anna had a height of 4 feet 6 inches and by 15, she was well above 7 feet tall. At 17, she hit her documented height of 7 feet 5 ½ inches.
Anna had a gift for the arts, so she capitalized on her height to travel the world and showcase her talents to people from all over. She even appeared at the royal British court. Anna tied the knot with Martin Van Buren Bates, one of her traveling companions who was also exceedingly tall. They welcomed two kids together, both of whom died shortly after their birth. Interestingly, her second child weighed 23 pounds at birth, making him the largest newborn child on record. The gigantic couple later retired from performing and moved into a big house specially designed for them. Anna succumbed to heart failure and tuberculosis at 42.
6. CAROLINA RASCON (7 FEET 5.5 INCHES)
One of the more reclusive women on this list, there is a dearth of information available about Rascon. Carolina Rascon was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. Her growth anomaly began very early when she began outgrowing her twin sister Simona. Although Simona was of average height throughout her life, Carolina grew to be 7 feet 5 ½ inches. She was also reported to have been incredibly strong. She was able to carry a grown man in each arm, lift a pony, and load an iron stove into a cart all by herself. No one knows for certain when she died.
5. WASSILIKI CALLIANDJI (7 FEET 6.5 INCHES)
Wassiliki is Greece’s tallest woman that ever lived, and for a long time, she was also regarded as the tallest woman anywhere in the world. Often referred to as the Greek Giantess, there are very sparse details known about her beyond newspaper clippings and eyewitness accounts. According to reports, Wassiliki was 7 feet 6 ½ inches tall.
The giantess was born in 1882 and lived till 1904, making her 22 at the time of her passing. She appears to have been the archetypal acromegalic giant known for their excessively large feet, hands, long limbs, and face. One newspaper report described her eyes as being “as large as hens’ eggs”. Hardly would one find any pictures of Wassiliki, so it’s a bit difficult to picture what she looked like, but she was certainly a sight to behold.
4. SANDY ALLEN (7 FEET 7.25 INCHES)
America’s tallest woman in history, Sandy Allen was born in 1955 in Chicago. Her unusual height was caused by a tumor in her pituitary gland, but fortunately for her, modern medicine was able to intervene and stop her rapid growth. Otherwise, Sandy would have been much taller than she was. The surgery, which she underwent at 22, helped improve the overall quality of her life by preventing most of the numerous health issues that plague people with gigantism from affecting her.
From 1976 until her death in 2008 (aged 53), Sandy held the world record for the tallest woman in the world, on and off. She went on to write a book titled Casting a Giant Shadow, and appear in the movie Fellini’s Casanova, as well as several documentaries. Towards the end of her life, Sandy was confined to a wheelchair as she could no longer support her giant stature. She eventually died from renal failure but will always be remembered as one of the tallest women that ever lived.
3. YAO DEFEN (7 FEET 8 INCHES)
In 1972, Yao was born in rural China, Anhui Province, to poor farmers. Her excessive growth was caused by a tumor lodged in her pituitary gland, so she began growing tall very young. By the age of 11, she already stood over 6 feet tall. The medical community became aware of her unusual height when she was 15 and went to the hospital. The tumor was diagnosed and could have been removed but her parents could not afford to pay the medical fees. At this time, Yao was already 6 ft 9, so she began traveling around the country, performing in sideshows to earn money for her bills. She did this for 10 years between 1992 and 2002, managing to save enough money for her surgery.
Unfortunately, the tumor grew back after it was removed, and she couldn’t afford another surgery. Alternatively, she began taking medication to shrink the size of the tumor and stop it to a great extent from flooding her body with growth hormones. However, Yao had reached 7 ft 8 in and was suffering from various medical issues including delayed puberty, osteoporosis, and hypertension. Although she was able to raise more money to get better medical treatment after she was featured in a British TV documentary, Yao left this earthly plane in November 2012, aged 40.
2. JANE BUNFORD (7 FEET 11 INCHES)
Jane was born on July 26, 1895, in a place called Bartley Green, Birmingham, England. She held the title of tallest woman that has ever lived until 1922 when she kicked the proverbial bucket. Interestingly, Jane was just a little bit taller than her age when she was a young girl. The anomaly in her height began after she fractured her skull accidentally, resulting in damage to her pituitary gland. Consequently, growth hormones were pumped into her bloodstream in excess and she grew alarmingly fast.
Although the city offered to pay her because of her unique growth condition, Jane chose not to reap financial benefits from her height. Instead, she earned an honest living like most people, working as a caretaker and babysitter in her community. After she passed, Birmingham University secretly smuggled her corpse and studied it until decades later when the truth came out. Jane is still England’s tallest woman on record to date.
1. ZENG JINLIAN (8 FEET 1.75 INCHES)
While there are reports and stories of people who have been much taller than 8 feet in the past, there is no way to ascertain whether these claims are true. However, as far as recorded history is concerned, Zeng Jinlian is the tallest woman who has ever walked this earth. She was born in China in 1964 and to date, she is the only woman on record to have crossed the 8 feet mark.
Her abnormal growth spurt began when she was four months old, and by the time she was four years old, Zeng was 5 feet 1 ½ inch tall. At 13, she was 7 feet 1 ½ inch tall. She hard large hands and feet measuring 10 and 14 inches respectively. Due to her height, Zeng suffered from debilitating spine issues, scoliosis, and diabetes. She passed away in 1982 at the young age of 17.