The December air burns in my chest a little, but it feels good. It’s awakening my body and my brain, forcing my legs to propel forward this body that causes me so much stress and frustration. I am acutely aware that my thick thighs are bright red from the chill and quaking with every impact of a lightweight, neutral shoe on the crunching snow. I love them for it as much as I hate them. In fact, my tall-socks-and-short-shorts uniform is specifically engineered to show them off, whether or not onlookers care to see their jiggling, pale, cold and goosefleshed square footage. I know these big, meaty gams can push me through this sloppy, snowy mess as far as I can dream.
Remember those body fat caliper tests? I had to do one in high school, my freshman year. I was already well into my first season of cross-country, and a proud and happy (albeit huffy and puffy) runner, but nonetheless I still dreaded and hated phys ed class with every fiber of my being and wished so hard I’d faked sick that day or something. I was fine when we measured our arms and our necks, and even measuring my belly wasn’t so bad. But when it came time to measure the fat in my thighs I wanted to wrench the caliper–it even looks like a torture device–into a crumpled little mess of metal.
A lot of it is genetics, I know. My mom has big thighs. Even my tiny sister has big thighs, for a tiny person. That didn’t make it any easier to cope when I tried on a pair of thigh high stockings the first time I wanted to wear some pretty lingerie and discovered that the elastic tops only make chunky legs look more chunky; they cinch in the flesh so that your fat bulges out around them.
(I have since discovered garter belts and am happy to report that the big girls’ alternative to stay-ups is not only more practical, it’s much much sexier.)
My legs are far more muscled now, but they’re still big. They’re still squishy and thick and occasionally a source of body frustration for me, but I stopped being ashamed of them at some point. Maybe it was the cat calls I get from the less-than-savory characters around Brooklyn. Maybe it was just growing up. But now I wear short skirts with pride. My tall sock collection has grown so large I have a dedicated drawer. My favorites cover my knees, to make sure those sweet little joints don’t steal any of the thunder from my glorious thighs.
What running teaches us more than anything is that our bodies are our friends. These thighs may be big, but they’re the engine that propels me farther than most people dare to walk, and I love them.
And lucky me, boys love them too.
Are you ever uncomfortable with your runner legs? Do you love to hate your thighs, or do you just love them?