I’ve been at war with you for a long time. But I was so, so wrong. I owe you a public apology. It’s time to bury the hatchet.
Thighs, you have never been described as “small”. The 90s were a rough time. At a young age, I flipped through magazines full of Naomi, Claudia, and Kate, knowing I. Did. Not. Belong.
I despised jeans shopping as young as twelve. Perhaps ironically, that was around the same time I was ushered into a weight room for the first time. In an instant, my body just felt at home amongst the rusty barbells, grimy benches, and vintage plates. Thighs, I didn’t realize I was giving you your ticket to shine. And shine you did.
Thighs, you leapt over hurdles and sprang up to the volleyball net for kills. Your power made up for my lack of height. You ran basketball sprints like a champ, though I was never any good at the sport either way. (To be fair, my lack of hand-eye coordination can’t be placed on you.) We plowed down steep, powdery mountainsides, strapped to a snowboard. Season after season, I picked volleyball spandex wedgies, violently pulling the stretchy fabric down, trying to cover more of you up. When it came time to max back squat senior year, you brought up 295 pounds… inviting jealous, scornful remarks from the boys on the football team I so desperately wanted to impress, not out-lift. I hated you more than ever.
We’ve been through endless miles of ruggedly beautiful Montana trails. Faster, longer, further. I tried desperately to outrun you. Fuck, aren’t distance runners supposed to be skinny? Emboldened by intervals, fartlek, and hill sprints, you broke through several pairs of jeans every high school track season.
I’d arrive home exhausted after evening practice, flipping open Women’s Health Magazine. The models’ long, slim, vaguely toned bodies promised me salvation with just SIX EASY STEPS TO SLIM THIGHS. I grabbed a 5 pound dumbbell and lunged and plie squatted and bridged on a swiss ab ball. I tore out the articles, creating what amounted to a homemade Thigh Burn Book.
The joke was on me, Thighs. Like a fire, you consumed those hateful pages and grew undeterred.
I tanned relentlessly, baking myself under fake UV lights for multiple cycles at a time. Everyone knows the only worse thing than big thighs are BIG FUCKING WHITE THIGHS. Thighs, I’d slather fake tanner all over you afterwards, ignoring the orange tint that stained my clothes, and the constant reek of DHA, praying the unnatural hue would make the cellulite less noticeable.
Senior year, my classmates dubbed me “Best Body” in our yearbook, and I seethed inside, convinced it was a cruel joke at my expense. Surely everyone was laughing behind my back (backside?). The thought of letting another person near you, Thighs, made me nauseous. My lack of self-worth was reflected in the types of boys I dated.
During my first week of college, I met a boy who took one look at you and fell in love. I saw a monstrosity, he saw hard-earned quads worthy of worship. He encouraged me to pursue my love of lifting; I should have trusted him. Instead I woke up at the crack of dawn for a mindless, hour-long spin class, and yoga’d and pilates’d. There is nothing inherently wrong with those things… but I did it all heartlessly, Thighs, all with the intention of ridding myself of you.
I opted into the South Beach Diet… an experiment that failed when I realized just how much of your hulking mass was actually muscle.
Skinny jeans happened. (I’d rather not talk about it.)
Moving to Florida brought a whole new layer of challenge to our relationship. It’s a whole lot harder to hide in a state that requires far less clothing.
All things come full circle, Thighs. In CrossFit, I finally stopped hating my body. It happened slowly, then all at once. I remember distinctly the first time I felt proud of you, Thighs. We were swinging kettlebells and ripped through dozens of wall balls unbroken. Like a long-lost puzzle piece that finally made its way into the big picture, I clicked. We were surrounded with athletic-looking women with bodies treated like fine-tuned machines, optimized for performance. Their magnificent thighs were engines that powered them during sprints and up rope climbs, over boxes and through max deadlifts. Cosmopolitan be damned, they even had men asking for their numbers! NUTS, AMIRITE?
Thighs, nothing has made me appreciate what you do for me more than tearing my ACL. Over the last year, I watched Left Thigh atrophy, a huge dent in my pant leg where a quad used to be. After surgery, we struggled to put on muscle and regain mobility. I cried with relief when we finally regained the ability to touch heel to butt. It sucked, but we are in it together. (And someday we will do pistols again!)
Thighs, I hope you will forgive me. I hope you’ll continue to get stronger, because we still have many weight room PRs ahead of us. I hope you won’t listen when I cuss in a dressing room, because I try to cram you into pants not made for you. I promise to wear more skirts. I’ve stopped hating those mysterious bruises you seem to always be covered in. I hope you’ll remind me of my responsibility to put naysayers in their place– whether they disparage my body, or another’s. I’ve come to feel sexy and confident because of you. I don’t feel afraid, knowing I could spring into action at any moment should danger approach. (You could crush an attacker! Write that headline, Shape!) Thighs, because of you I’ve come to feel powerful and unapologetic in my own skin. I hope you’ll stick around for many years to come, and I pray you’ll carry me through many more adventures, more bruises, more miles.
Thighs, old friends, I owe you an apology! ThighMasters and #ThighGaps be damned. You’ve grown, rebellious, wild, untamed by body trends, true only to yourselves. You’ve squatted and danced (poorly) and sprinted and leapt and hiked, and have done all the poetic things thighs are designed to do in this world. What more could one ask for? How could I expect you to be less when you are so much?