Without them I couldn’t walk: a shout out to my legs.
I don’t like the way my knees look, I have such an excess of skin on the joints that I look as if I have two vulvas acting as a half time interval in the expansive fleshy show that makes up my legs. I’m self conscious when I stand up straight, I don’t like how my knees look when I do… but without them I couldn’t walk.
I don’t like the colour of my legs. I don’t like how the shins remain so pale, how in the cold they seem almost blue. I don’t like that even when I moisturise them, they look grey and dry, I don’t like the shadow my body casts over them… but without them I couldn’t walk.
I don’t like how my legs wobble when I walk. How the cellulite adorning my thighs moves as I do, vibrating, shaking, moving seemingly of it’s own accord… but without them, I couldn’t walk.
I don’t like the hairs that grow on my legs. I don’t like that no matter how often I epilate I seem always to miss patches of ever thickening hair on my calves… I don’t like how the soft blonde strands that grows on my thighs makes my legs look… but without them I couldn’t walk.
I don’t like the stretch marks that wind themselves around my thighs, the sprawling lines signifying my growth… but without them I couldn’t walk.
My legs. My strong, powerful, beautiful and imperfect legs.
My poor, poor legs.
The legs that have literally enabled me to climb the Great Wall of China. The legs that carried me through my first marathon and all the training that entailed. The legs that allow me, every day, to walk. To the shop, to the park, to the loo. I squat, jump, skip and dance. I run, cycle, climb and clamour. I move. I move all the time.
And I couldn’t do that, without my legs.
My wonderful, wonderful legs.
So many summers spent so much too warm because I was afraid and ashamed to show them to the world.
So many tights, jeans, trousers, boots. So much sweat. So much shame. And for what?
My legs support me throughout my entire life. They carry me, literally. through it. From my first steps to the ones that brought me to where I am right now, in front of my laptop, cup of tea in hand, and every single one in between, has been thanks to them.
Society said they had to be thinner. Browner. Stronger, Smoother. Longer and that pressure saw me trying everything possible to make that a reality. I ate less, fake tanned, ran harder, squatted more, I shaved, waxed, epilated, moisturised. I wore heels that hurt. Jeans that were too tight and skirts that were too short. And even after all of that, they still weren’t enough.
Even after all the pain and all the effort and all the time, my legs still didn’t look like what they were supposed to… But without them, I couldn’t walk.
At what point did my love for my body become so much more about what it looks like rather than what it did for me? When did my priorities change? When did the fact that I was enabled incredible strength and power become utterly overshadowed by the insecurities that surrounded my appearance.
Since when did a rippling net of stretch marks not seem like a price worth paying for the growth that made me the woman I am today?
The cellulite, the cellulite that they told me I needed to remove, that I wanted to airbrush out of photos, that I bought creams on the promise that they’d erase it… all this time, a soft yet critical part of me.
The veins, carrying blood through my body, the hair, keeping me warm, the scars, evidence of a life well lived?
All the imperfections. All the insecurities.
Without them I couldn’t walk.
It took running a marathon for me to realise it. It took doing the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It took so much pain to work it out… But I know it now: my legs are my greatest gift.
So thank you, legs.
Thank you for being strong and fabulous and powerful and perfect.
Thank you for carrying me. For supporting me. For enabling me, to be me.
I love you.
I’m sorry I don’t say that more. I’m sorry I don’t say it ever. I’m sorry that I didn’t know it.
Because you are worthy of my love. You are so perfectly worthy.
I’m a dick for not seeing that sooner,