Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thighs

On Tuesday night, I brought a new song to the fitness class I teach, called Zumba. Basically, it was 4 minutes of constant, deep squats. By the end of the four minutes, I was expecting a riot among the 50 people gathered there because most of us could hardly walk afterward. Ouch. I knew my legs would be angry with me the next day. When I went over to Jeremy's apartment after class, I told him how sore my legs were.

"You want me to rub your legs so you aren't as sore tomorrow?" he asked.

Awkward silence. "Ummm, well...that would probably feel great. Yeah, it would be good if I rubbed my legs so I don't cramps or anything."

He looks at me with that look, like: I know you're avoiding something. He replies, "So you're going to rub your legs? That's good."

"Yeah, maybe. I just...I just think there's a difference between you rubbing, say, my shoulders. And rubbing my legs. You know?" I trip over my own words trying to avoid the topic entirely. "This is weird. I'm weird."

He assures me, "You don't have to explain."

"No, I kinda feel like I do. I...um...there are certain parts of my body that I would feel more or less comfortable with you touching. Or seeing. Or acknowledging." Pause. "Do you know what I'm trying to say?"

So went the conversation, which resembles plenty of other conversations we've had, that always end this way: I can spend the rest of my life comparing my thighs to models with entourages of personal trainers and digital photo editors, or I can be satisfied with what I've got.

I long for satisfaction.

People have looked upon the very legs I criticize and thought, If only I had her legs...

I know this because I've done this, too. I've vocalized a compliment to a women whom I envy, only to hear her say say, in utter disbelief: "You must be confused! My body? My ass has more craters than the moon."

It seems we're all just apart of this vicious cycle, where we all want what everyone else has, but never believe the compliments we do receive and are never satisfied with what we have. It's a sick cycle.

Tonight, Jeremy and I played a board game with a couple-friend of ours who are recently married. When I first met the lady-half of this duo, I'll admit, I suspected she had an eating disorder solely because she's so thin. My assumptions took flight until I realized: nope, she's just naturally a size zero and quite skinny. She's probably the thinnest adult-woman I've ever met. Yet, she's healthy. And that's just what her genes dished out.

As we played games, it was Jeremy's turn and he went to draw cards. I watched as her husband put his hand on her thigh. She quickly removed it and said under her breath with a disappointed face, "They're flabby."

My jaw nearly hit the table. Let me repeat: This is the thinnest adult-woman I've ever met. Yet...

This is an "ah-ha" moment. The ding, ding, ding resonates in my ears. The Universe is trying desperately to teach me something and I can either acknowledge it or reject it: Our personal satisfaction has nothing to do with size of our thighs, or the amount of our paycheck (you fill in the blank), and everything to do with the amount of self-acceptance we grant ourselves.

Yesterday, my friend told me that recently, she was standing naked in front of the mirror, and realized, "Hey, I'm not too bad. I think somebody could love me." She recollected the story with pride and a smile on her face, as if she just found out there's no such thing as Santa Claus.

That lie, that overwhelming falsity, has been overturned, kicked out, sent packing. I am so proud of her and told her that it's true: she isn't bad and people do love her. I know she'll fluctuate back and forth between love and loathing, she's human. But these moments are important. The moments when truth reigns and light shines.

I wish I wasn't that girl.
The girl who thinks way too much about how she compares.
The girl who avoids letting her boyfriend touch her legs for fear that he might realize she's not super-model material.
The girl who vacillates wildly--depending on the day--between: "I love you, self" and "I hate you, it."

For what it's worth, my thighs are still freaking sore. I kicked my own butt. These legs--whether they resemble tree trunks, pudding, cottage cheese, Swiss cheese, or any other kind of cheese--are mine.

These legs learned to walk.
These legs played hop scotch.
These legs have hiked mountains.
These legs enable me to dance and play.
These legs play pony with my little cousins.
These legs run fast breaks on the basketball court.
These legs carried me to and from Cambodia, safely.
These legs run endless miles training for a half-marathon.
These legs hold me up and give me mobility and strength and agility and grace.

2 comments:

Emily said...

Oh girl. I resonate with this so much.

And I found this post ironic because I definitely used to envy your legs when we were neighbors freshman year. Sigh...

The question I ask myself every day is "Why are we so hard on everyone?" Maybe because we're used to being so hard on ourselves.

Anthony said...

I hate it that I always want what I don't have.