Since I was a little girl growing up in Safranbolu, Turkey, I’ve dreamed of exploring the world – from the sandy beaches of California to the northern lights in Iceland. Until a couple of years ago, I couldn’t have even imagined this happening, but a few months ago my dreams finally became a reality.
I’m more than 7ft (2.15 metres) tall, so travelling is difficult for me. I am the tallest woman in the world, due to a rare genetic condition called Weaver syndrome, which affects only 50 people.
My childhood was not easy. I was home schooled because of my physical condition and from as early as I can remember, I knew I looked different from other people. I felt like a child trapped inside an adult’s body. When I was six, I was already 5ft 8in tall. As a social norm, people expect men to be bigger and taller than women; this makes things very difficult for tall women, and I find it upsetting.
I often need to adjust things due to my height. Everything has to be altered to suit me, which can be very hard, but there are positives, too. I usually buy clothes from brands specialising in plus-size clothing, then alter them. I’ll find a dress that I like and then get it turned into a top. Bottoms always have to be tailored. It gives me a chance to be creative.
I’ve always been a very ambitious person. In 2014, when I was 17, I received the title for the tallest living teenager. I actually applied for it myself, as I saw the record holder at the time was shorter than me.
In 2021 I was named the tallest living woman, and last year I received the titles for the largest hands, longest fingers and longest back, too. I use these titles as a platform to raise awareness about my condition and also to empower people to be themselves. I hope to inspire and encourage other people with similar conditions to know they’re not alone and that anything is possible for them.
I’m a web developer and for years I dreamed of going to Silicon Valley to develop my career. But the journey from Turkey would take a staggering 13 hours and I had long thought flying on a plane would be impossible: due to my condition, I have spinal curvature, joint problems and muscle issues, which mean I cannot sit up for longer than two hours at once. After that I’ll need to lie down and have a rest, because of the pressure in my spine.
For the past few years, I researched travel options that could work. I was hoping to fly in 2020 but it had to be delayed because of the pandemic. Then, last autumn, an airline agreed to make my dreams come true.
To make it work, six seats had to be closed in the economy section of the plane and a stretcher placed on them. I would lie down on that throughout the flight. Usually this option is available only for emergency medical travellers – I was the first person to use it as a regular passenger. It was a fully booked commercial flight, so there were a lot of curious people on board, but I had an incredible time.
I’m living in California at the moment to pursue my career in tech. I’m a proud cat mum of Peri, which means fairy in Turkish, and I was devastated to have to leave her with friends in Turkey, so my next goal is to bring her over…