"I like these."

Saturday, September 04, 2010

I had an epiphany this morning.

Backstory: I am short. Very short. Extremely short. As in, under 5'0" (although on my driver's license... um... I rounded up). And no matter how many people said "it's cute to be petite!" to me, I always wished I was a little bit taller. I wished I was a baller. (Actually, no. I was a tennis kind of girl.) I remember the first time I realized I didn't like my legs. I was in ballet class getting measured for a recital costume, and the teacher pointed out that another girl had a shorter torso than I did, but longer legs. I realized that long legs = good and short legs = bad. And I felt bad.

It's a nasty world out there when you're eight.

It was the first time I realized I should have an opinion about my legs, and I didn't like them. All through high school, I hated my legs. They could always have been longer and skinnier. Even when I was at my absolute skinniest (too skinny, in hindsight) I hated my legs. I hated almost everything under neck level, but my legs maybe most of all.

I've since grown up and realized a few things:

1) I am never going to be tall, and I am never going to have long legs. Oh, well. It's just the way it goes.

2) It's not worth my time to hate any part of myself.

3) My husband likes my legs, so that should be good enough for me too.

Internalizing these three propositions has brought me to a position of neutrality with regard to my legs. I'd still love it if they were longer and skinnier, but I've accepted that they won't be. I also see them as functional now. They are strong. They carry me for miles on my runs... they operate the pedals on my bike so I can zoom past people... they guide me down a mountain on my snowboard... they anchor into my yoga mat as I settle into Tree Pose, my favorite pose. Looks-wise, I have some ideas for improvements. But as far as functionality goes, they've held up pretty well. I'm satisfied.

But then today, I realized something. I was lying on my back in yoga class, with my right foot stuck up in the air, taking a IT band stretch that I had never done before and wondering what exactly the teacher was going for with this. For a moment, I stopped looking at my foot and looked at my knee instead. Just to check in, make sure it was straight. And all of a sudden, I realized something.

This leg is nice.

I liked my knee. I liked the way my calf curved up to meet it. I liked my ankle, too. I liked the smooth but sloped line between my ankle and my knee, and upwards. I liked all of the shapes I was seeing.

I thought about my mom's friend, who is tall and statuesque and has those long skinny legs I always wanted. I remembered her saying to me, once, at the beach: "I always wished I had shapely legs."

I released my right foot to the floor and replicated the pose on the other side. Hmmm. This leg is nice, too. Same nice ankle and knee. Same smooth lines, nice tone and muscle definition. I like this one too. I like my legs. It was so easy; just like that, I let go of 20 years of not liking something about myself.

From now on, I'm going to like my legs. Not just because they are good and strong and they take me places and they let me run and do all of the things I enjoy doing. I'm taking it beyond my "I'm so thankful I can run" gratitude meditations on my long runs. I'm going to like my legs for another, somewhat superficial reason, too. Because they're freaking nice.

Who's with me? Let's all like our legs, and own it together.
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