When I stopped caring about my thighs.
It’s something about my 30s, I think. Something about my 30s made me really take that deep breath and relax. My 30s are when I've realized that life is not—in fact—long and meandering, it is actually short and moves according to my own choices and decisions. I’ve realized a lot of things in my 30’s that I hadn’t considered before:
- There isn’t actually a new shiny man and life around each corner. Around each corner there is just that same ole life. Still there! In that corner, too!
- Beauty is fleeting, and it’s not as important as I thought. In our culture, youth is beauty. I know you’ve heard it before, but I really started understanding this in my 30s. Hello grey hairs. Hello wrinkles. Hello mortality. I thought beauty was so important. It’s actually not. It’s best summed up by the (paraphrased) words of a dear friend: “I don’t want some hot bod to snuggle forever, I want a spirit to snuggle forever.” Amen.
- So if life is actually short, will I live it differently? Yes. I sure will. No more “one day I will…” because actually, really, that day might not come. How is today looking? Do I like it? Because here it is. This. Is. My. Life.
But about my thighs.
For many years, I cared a lot about my body being a very specific weight and shape. Sometimes I would go over that weight, sometimes under. I felt that it was a very average in-between, my weight of choice. And lately I’ve gone back over it. Only by a few (literally, a few) pounds. And usually, this is my call to action. Eat less!? Maybe. Eat more lettuce? Sure. Weigh myself a lot? Yes. Bemoan the tiny jeans that are too tight? For sure.
This time around, I feel pretty darn healthy. I’m active and I eat well. I drink lots of water. I do yoga, I go for walks every day, and I hike, swim, etc. I could do more, of course. But the weirdest thing is happening…
I like my body. When I look at myself in the mirror, I love it. I do. And then sometimes I feel bad for loving it! I think—wait … should I try to lose weight? But then I think about how when I see other women that look like this, I think about how beautiful they are. I think about how I can wear certain clothes now because I fill them out that tiny bit more and it makes all the difference. And you know what else? The bottom line is that it takes up a lot of time and energy to obsess over our bodies and weights. It's really draining. And the tiny jeans that don't fit? I'm certainly not going to waste my time wishing they did. I have other jeans. I'm stripping the tiny jeans of their power.
I remember being younger and my bff saying to me in her irritated voice, “you are SO obsessed with thighs not touching.” I hadn’t even known I was obsessed with that (keep in mind this was long before the dawn of social media and about a decade before the #thighgap craze). She called me out on it. And in doing so, she also made me realize that she was NOT obsessed with that. Huh. Food for thought.
Just now, I just walked by the mirror in my underwear and bra. (I did yoga in my living room this morning because my hips are tight from traveling a lot last week—I spent a lot of time in airplanes and cars). When I walked by the mirror, I saw the silver, slender stretch marks on my thighs—the ones I’ve had since puberty, when I grew hips and thighs and played lots of soccer (soccer thighs are a thing). So, I just saw those in the mirror, and I love them. I love them the way I love the soft golden baby hairs on my son’s hairline. That kind of home-is-my-body kind of love.
It’s kind of scary, you know? I mean, if I choose to love myself as I am right now, am I “letting go?” Am I healthy enough? Fit enough? I’m only getting older. This human trajectory only goes in one direction, and I’m well on my way to those later years: the ever-softer, looser skin. The shifting body. The moon moves through the sky, she waxes and then she wanes.
Mostly this makes me think about how radical it is to really love myself. I’ve heard that a lot before, but like many sweeping truths, it takes a while to understand it. If I choose to love myself now, a few pounds “off” from my perfect state, I’m being rebellious. I’m rebelling against my own beauty dogmas that I adopted as a teenager based on the world around me, and I’m rebelling against a common norm that sweeps our nation. It’s taking a giant leap of faith that I Am Not My Beauty. That my power doesn’t come from there. That, in fact, I’m actually still beautiful even though I’m not using a perfectly flat stomach and non-touching thighs as a gauge for value or success. (How un-feminist of me that I ever did that). However, any woman who has ever been thin or beautiful or lost weight knows what it’s like—the external feedback is intense. Positive reinforcement for thinness is out of control.
But guess what? My stomach never wrote a blog post, and my thighs never got a scholarship or got a poem published. I did that. My body did birth my baby and that was really cool. Thanks, body. Other than that, my body has been a totally blessed and healthy container for me in this life. I love my body.
And I love my thighs right now. So I’m going to roll with it.