The Liberation of Emily's Legs

  These are my legs:

They are short, and chubby, and according to someone whose voice has been living (rent-free) inside my head for far too long, they look like sausage links when I am wearing tights.

Because of my short, stubby, sausage legs, I take smaller steps than most of my friends, I don’t run very fast at all, and it takes me a lot longer to get places than some people.  These legs are covered in scars, cellulite, and have pores that are too large so they always look like I need to shave them.  In short, they are not what most people would consider “great legs”.

I have hated my legs since I was six years old (when, coincidentally, the sausage link situation was brought to my attention).  That’s almost twenty years.  Twenty years of actively hating and waging war on one-third of my body.  For as long as I can remember, I have wanted and wished and begged and bargained for thighs that do not rub together to create angry, screaming red rashes.  Or for calves that fit inside sleek, zip-up boots without leaving zipper indentations.  Or for deliciously un-dimpled knees.  I have kept them hidden beneath long dresses and denim capris and pants, pants, and nothing but pants for as long as I’ve been choosing my own clothing.  They spend most summers pasty white because they are hidden from the sun; they are covered up with a sarong at the beach where they were the last parts to be exposed and the first to be hidden under clothing again when it’s time to leave.

I have exercised.  I have done squats and thrusts and outer thigh presses and inner thigh squeezes and ronde jambes and leg circles.   And you know what?

My legs look the same.

They are stronger, they are perhaps a bit more toned, but they are still my legs.  My thighs are still wide and still rub together, and all the exercise in the world will not remove the cellulite.  They are just my legs.  Nothing more and apparently, never going to be anything less.

This used to disturb and frustrate me.  It just didn’t seem fair that I could have all the drive and ambition in the world—and even all the discipline to work my legs so hard—and get next to nothing in return.  It was just a big cosmic joke that I was destined to stomp around on these stubby trunks, being playfully mocked by my loved ones and quietly loathing them until the end of my days.

But seriously.  What the fuck?

What’s wrong with my legs?  Medically, physiologically, functionally?  Nothing.  Not a damn thing.  They are fully functional and in great working shape.  They have no squeaking parts, no rusty joints.  They don’t even hurt when it’s about to rain.  And they’re still both attached to my body and react appropriately when my brain sends them a signal.

So really, what am I complaining about?

And they’ve done more than just work without issue for twenty-four years.  These legs were able to steer a thousand pound horse around a ring and on a trail when they were only nine years old.  These legs walked the rest of me across the stage at my college graduation.  They reach my feet to the pedals of my car every day so I can drive around the state and try to raise money to fund a cure for cancer.  These legs can do Zumba, Pilates, yoga, and run on an elliptical machine for forty-five minutes before they start screaming for me to stop.

Maybe they don’t fit into zip-up boots or size 6 jean skirts.  Maybe my knees will always be dimpled and my cellulite will always jiggle when I’m power-walking to catch up with one of my long-legged friends.  Maybe my jeans will always have the hem trodden down in the back because the “Regular” inseam is too long (But dammit!  That Petite inseam is just too damn short!) and maybe my thighs will never know what it’s like to have their own space to breathe.

Maybe.  Probably.

But you know what?  My legs have done a lot for me and have never asked for anything in return.  This is the summer I buy some shorts and show them off.  This is the summer they get to spend some time in the sun and finally know what my shoulders have been talking about all this time.  It’s time I gave my legs a big hug and say to them, “Legs, I love you and starting now, I’m going to act like it.”