Of all the tortured relationships in my life, none is more agonising than the one I have with my thighs.
It's due in part to their size, but moreso due to the insidious subcutaneous fatty deposits known as "cellulite".
Orange peel skin, cottage cheese legs, the lumps-and-bumps, Satan's Curse, the Saggy Moguls, "Indiana Jones and the Dimples of Doom", Rice Pudding Pins, The Hammy Gams, "Look Upon Ye Thigh-ty and Despair", "The Buns of Have-A-Moan"...
OK, I may have made a number of those up. But still, they're reasonably accurate descriptions of the current state of my legs, knees-up.
Oh, it's all my own fault, I know that. A sedentary job, poor diet and exercise habits - mea culpa, mea culpa. And I know I have to love my own body, and cellulite is something that affects 80 to 90 per cent of all women, and so-called cures are no more than snake-oil.... you're right. This is in no way a reflection of anybody's experiences and thoughts but my own.
This is my party, and I'll thigh if I want to.
Wandering through the Valley on Saturday night, my gaze kept being pulled by the long, golden legs that seemed to populate the Brunswick Street mall like gazelles on the savannah. Stride, stride, went the legs - bare to the wind, save the very top part (a short tight skirt), and the very bottom part (large, cumbersome wedge boot-heels). They seemed to exist independently of their often-drunk owners, gambolling and staggering in turn, like sentient bowling pins.
I felt pangs of jealously watching these bright young things. For I never had a "teeny miniskirt leg flashing" phase. I became aware of my own cellulite in my teens, and became suitably paranoid about keeping them far away from accidental gazes. The few times I went to nightclubs, I wore jeans, to avoid a random exposure while breaking out the moves to some sweet late 90s tunes. And to this day I rarely swim without board shorts.
One of the side effects of being paranoid about your own thighs is developing a considerable, if not obsessive, interest in other women's. A glimpse of a leg with a similar appearance is greeted with a small internal yelp of glee - "Hooray! I'm not alone!".
I am not proud of this. As a committed feminist and positive body image type person, I always feel a little dirty engaging in this type of behaviour. But just because I am aware of the unrealities that our photoshopped world now presents us with, doesn't mean I don't buy into them. I remain disappointingly predictable.
Now a few days ago, I bought my second Apple product. It is an 8GB Nano, and so far the only thing I've downloaded are Smart Enough to Know Better podcasts. But eventually I will learn how iTunes works, and I will find a way of getting more sweet late-90s tunes onto the Nano, and I will turn on its pedometer feature, and I will go out and be more thigh-active.
My goal is legs like this:
Yes, those are my ideal legs, but I'm a realist. If I can achieve anything better than the "Clotted Porridge" look, I'll be happy. Well, I'm a woman, so I'll never be happy, but I'll be marginally less full of hate for myself.
I was always very anxious about my figure. I grew up a very thin wiry guy with no muscles. Then, just as I was hitting puberty and many of my friends were getting muscle tone, big chests and lush public hair, Calvin Klein introduced 'herion chic'. Perfect Frigging Timing.ReplyDelete
Although I still didn't get laid for another decade :\
Surely only women have "figures"?ReplyDelete
Men, I would counter, have "physiques".
I had less a figure and more a diagram.ReplyDelete
... and you should check out my appendix.
The world changed for me when being forced to catch the train to the Royal Show (The Ekka in Brisbane) with my older brother and his friend/s. I was invisible to them as they talked for the duration of the journey as I sat near enough to them to appease Mother, but far enough away to not look like I was near them.ReplyDelete
It became very apparent that guys had a different measure of attractiveness when looking at girls than girls had when looking at girls. I knew I'd rather have a guy think I was attractive than a girl. Strangely, it took a lot of pressure off me. Girls judge each other much more harshly than guys judge girls (as a general rule).
Attractiveness is subjective. I have seen men drool over women I was quite frankly shocked that would elicit that kind of response. I've had guys i though way too good looking take an interest in me. I've been interested in guys who would not rate at all on a "hottest" list.
You are beautiful Nat. You are most beautiful when you forget to be self concious about the flaws most of us don't see.
Those legs have walked you all over the world, they may not be perfect, but they have functioned well. They are good legs :)
::sigh:: This is an unfortunate reality for all too many of us. I've had a negative body image for almost my entire life. Never being comfortable in my own skin. Wishing I had the beautiful legs of people that seem to put no effort into having such lovely stems. It doesn't seem fair some days. Especially because I'm also of the kind that embraces every type of figure... in other people. Women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful. I wish I could apply that to myself.ReplyDelete
A really clever, interesting post. I enjoyed it immensely. I know it's easier said than done but wouldn't worry, you're gorgeous and I envy how stylish your hair is.ReplyDelete
I find I have the same problem. It's so hard to get past body image issues even when we know we're beautiful. It's so easy to fixate on the flaws even knowing that no one is perfect even if the media may portray photoshopped perfection. The perfection is just that, a trick of photoshop genius.ReplyDelete
Play up what you have, downplay what you don't. At six foot three looking down, I've never seen your thighs.ReplyDelete
Or cover the thighs with panache. You could really pull off the Aviatrix look :)
I am EXACTLY the same. I never wear anything that reveals my knees and up - I'm so paranoid; I always wear jeans. I'm still in my mid-teens but I already have these giant cheesy-puffs for legs which I am desperate to get rid of. Hooray, I'm not the only one! :P I envy those with great legs they can show off.ReplyDelete
This is very a reality based we woman are really very anxious about our body and definitely our figure. We exercise always to stay healthy and sexy, and to be attractive all the times. And having a sexy figure is the best asset that a women can have.ReplyDelete
As a bearer of 'cankles' I think this post was very well said! Many of us can't altogether change our body shape, while remaining healthy. The secret is making the best of what you have, and being confident in who you are (despite thick ankles or cottage-cheese thighs... I'm so much more than that!)ReplyDelete
Nat, How am I going to raise my 20 month old daughter? How will I teach her to love herself?ReplyDelete
(We are still trying to chub her up. You would be very jealous of her thighs - or lack thereof).
I hope I cam raise her with a confident (but not arrogant) self image.
Hey thanks all for your comments.ReplyDelete
Rose - Reading your comment made me feel terribly irresponsible (in particular). I know how young you are, and I don't want you to start travelling down a path of body hatred.
Rowan - I think you will do a fine job raising your little one. As long as you emphasise the things that really matter - kindness, humanity, a work ethic, creativity, strength etc - all those things will come through.
I don't think of myself as a "bad" person for my thighs; it's just a standard I've chosen to adhere to, rightly or wrongly (and a health and personal desires thing). And we all make our own decisions on those things.