I distinctly remember the first time I didn’t like the way my legs looked. Particularly, my thighs. During dance class in 7th grade I remember looking around the room and really comparing my body to the other girls in my class. The gut wrenching feeling I had in my stomach as I looked at my legs and realized my legs didn’t look as long and thin as some of the other girls.
I remember being in the dressing room at JC Penny trying on shorts and having to go up a size because they wouldn’t fit over my thighs. My mom kept telling me the size didn’t matter, that it was the fit that mattered, but I remember trying to hold in the tears because of this moment.
Once I started I didn’t know how to stop the comparison game. Looking back at pictures now it’s so hard to believe that I thought I was so huge. I wasn’t a stick by any means, but I had no sense of what my body truly looked like.
In college, I lost a pretty significant amount of weight. I spent many hours at the gym pounding away on the treadmill and the elliptical trying to make my body fit a standard of beauty that I was never going to achieve.
Ah yes, that ever dreamy thigh gap. The image of “perfection” that we see daily. Hundreds of times a day in fact, and I wanted it. And I tried and tried to get it. The smaller I became the more compliments that poured in.
“How are you doing that?”
“Have you been losing weight? You look great.”
“Yes thank you. I’m just eating healthy and working out.” I would smile and reply.
It fueled my fire. It fueled my thought that beauty and weight are equal. After all isn’t this what we are selling to every woman in America?
Get your bikini body in just two weeks.
Lose weight fast!
Buy x,y, and z to make your skin look flawless.
I’m calling BS. The American standard of beauty is BS. Diet culture is BS.
The world says we can attain these standards, but in reality the models who portray this standard can’t even attain it. They are photo-shopped and posed in certain ways to make us see this impossible perception of beauty and make us believe that we can have that body too. What’s funny to me about this is that we know those things. Almost every woman knows that advertisements are photo-shopped and yet we still strive to have that body that doesn’t exist!
My legs will never have a gap between them. I’m not saying if you have that body structure that it’s wrong, I am saying for my body that is something that I will never achieve no matter how much weight I could lose, because my hip structure isn’t meant to be that way.
My heart is heavy for the girls who are having those first moments of the comparison game. It has so much power and can suck you in tightly. Please don’t let it suck you in. People have gone through life thinking that their weight, identity, and worth are all tied together and that breaks my heart. It could not be further from the truth. Our weight has nothing to do with our identity and worth. Our identity is that we are children of God. An all knowing, loving, and merciful God. He loves us no matter what number shows up on that stupid scale we have in the bathroom, and that is worth more than anything I can think of.
God gave me these legs. After many years of negative words to them, I think it’s time that they deserve some love. These legs are strong. These legs have run multiple half marathons. These legs have played with little kids at the daycare. They have stuck it out through trying to attain the “perfect body”.
So I want to say I’m sorry to my legs. I can’t say that I don’t have days where negative thoughts creep in, but it’s a lot better than it was.
Part of the reason I am running this marathon in September is to show myself that I don’t need to have a typical “runner’s body” to succeed at running marathons. These strong legs will help me get to the finish line. However, while all of this may be true there are so many other things that make a person beautiful other than any physical appearance. Kindness, humor, authenticity, love. Those make a persona beautiful.
So, next time you hear that little voice in your head say something nasty about a part of yourself, remember your mind and body are strong and can do a whole lot more than you think it can. Treat them with kindness and it will be kind back to you.
Run. Sweat. Do something that will help you reach your goal.