Learning to Love My Legs

For many years- I’d say from the age of 8 all the way up until my early 20s- I hated my legs. I mean I really hated them. In my eyes, my legs were disproportionally short, chubby, and weird. Being a runner, I remember the other kids on the track team telling me not to bother ever trying to being a jumper- just wasn’t going to happen! Finding pants could be tough because they were always too long. And given that I hated the shape of my legs, I was super self-conscious about my pants and wouldn’t wear pants that I thought made my legs stand out or that fit tightly…

I was reminded of this today in cycling class. We were doing a really tough sprint interval and the instructor was walking around. Impressed with my pace and those of others around me, she said “you have strong legs.”

I have strong legs. Yes they are kind of short and yes, I’ll probably have to hem my pants for the rest of my life. Yes, my calves are so big that its hard to find knee socks to fit. Yes, I will never be an amazing long jumper. But, damn, these legs have sure been through a lot! They’ve cycled and lifted. They’ve ran thousands of miles. They’ve gotten me across the finish line of two marathons. They’ve been to so many great places and met so many wonderful people. My fiance- before he even knew I had a history of hating my legs- has told me he thinks they’re one of my greatest features. How could I not love my legs? How could I ever mistreat them or make them only wear “certain pants” instead of whatever is most comfortable or whatever I find to be most stylish?

Think of what your body can do instead of what it looks like or what its limitations are. No matter what, no person will ever be 100% happy with how they look or how they feel. But, we can learn to appreciate what our bodies do for us and also realize that oftentimes, the parts of us we see as imperfect are the parts that others find beautiful.

purple running shoes

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7 thoughts on “Learning to Love My Legs

  1. swosei12blog

    You nailed it! I don’t think anyone is 100% fine with his/her natural body.

    For a bit, I had a leg issue but the inverse of your former issue. I used to hate my skinny calves “chicken legs” if you will. They a super skinny, relative to my somewhat muscular frame. Unless exercising, I would always were long pants even if it was like a million degrees outside.

    Reply
  2. Sarah

    Ach, we should all try to find the kindness for ourselves that we would find for others. Have you read Anne Lamott on this very topic? She talks about her legs as two old aunties:

    “I was not wearing a cover-up, not even a T-shirt. I had decided I was going to take my thighs and butt with me proudly whenever I went. I decided, in fact, on the way to the beach, that I would treat them as if they were beloved elderly aunties, the kind who did embarrassing things at the beach, like roll their stockings into tubes around their ankles, but whom I was proud of because they were so great in every real and important way. So we walking along, the three aunties and I, to meet [my son] and our friends in the sand. I imagined that I could feel the aunties beaming, as if they had been held captive in a dark closet too long, like Patty Hearst. Freed finally to stroll on a sandy Mexican beach: what a beautiful story.” [From Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith]

    Reply
  3. Runningwithallergies (@runwallergies)

    This is a great post! Between running, irish step dancing, and soccer; my calves are enormous and yet I shop in the petites section for pants, shorts, skirts, etc. As someone who is 5ft 6ish inches, I usually find someone my size or slightly shorter to go with me. Then, I do not have store owners telling me I am in the wrong section. Kudos to you for appreciating what your legs can do for you!

    Reply

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