Why I decided to let go of the skinny jeans and embrace my thighs
Aside from the first six, or so, years of my life, I have always been a curvy girl. I quickly grew out of the suggested sizes for my age, wearing a 12 to 14 around age 9, then delving directly into the junior’s section before ever starting middle school. Shorts were made too short, shirts clung too tight, and all the cute things my smaller friends wore couldn’t fit me unless I stretched them out with hangers (yes, I did this). While I desperately wanted to be like my friends, I fought the sinking feeling I never would be, could be. My Puerto Rican shape, that of a double-sided pear, wasn’t created to wear the clothes on the shelves and no matter of stretching them could make it so.
Towards my 7th and 8th grade years, my weight hit all-time high and yes, it affected my self-esteem in ways I couldn’t verbalize. But more than that, it was the unhealthiest I’d ever been. Struggling with anxiety and depression, I had no interest in exercise and the bigger I got, the more I binged. It was a vicious cycle and through those formative years, I felt like no one understood or empathized. Thus, I turned to writing to ease all the pain I carried from feeling like such an outsider.
The summer before my freshman year of high school, things started to change. I don’t remember one certain moment where I thought I’m going to get into shape but I went for a bike ride with a friend and that snowballed into a summer of bike rides. I started eating better and taking care of myself but what I noticed was, no matter what I did, there was one part of me that refused to change: my thighs.
For years, I tried to deny my thighs, stuffing them into skinny jeans that didn’t really fit or were unbelievably uncomfortable, doing squats and leg lifts galore, or experimenting with fad diets that left me hungry or binging more than ever before. Post high-school, no matter what I did, this one thing kept me from feeling truly comfortable in my skin. I felt like my thighs were all everyone saw, all they talked about, and for a while, the insecurity consumed me. It was hard to make friends or have relationships because I wasn’t happy with myself.
Later, after two difficult pregnancies, my weight ballooned and I struggled to shrink back down to the me I was before. I wished I hadn’t complained all those years prior about the size of my thighs because in retrospect, I’d actually been in pretty good shape. I was healthy and felt good. But I missed the opportunity to fully appreciate it. Had I realized this sooner, I might’ve had more confidence through high school which might’ve led to a boost in self-esteem, grades, and possibly better choices thereafter. But I didn’t. I never gave myself the credit I deserved and wasted a lot of time obsessing over something that didn’t define me at all.
About a year after my youngest was born, I started running. I’d never run a day in my life until this point but I found a comfort in it; a feeling nothing else had given me before. Confidence. I’d soon run a 5k all the way to 50k, proving I could do anything. Through all those miles and reflecting, one thing that was never an issue, even for a second? My thighs.
I lost a lot of weight since my son’s birth but my thighs are still the one part of me that have remained. The difference in me now and me back then is, I’m okay with my thighs. I’m okay with wearing a bigger size if I need to. I’m okay with not having a thigh gap. I’m taking care of myself and I’m healthy. My kids have a role model now and my thighs have nothing to do with that. My thighs have lived. They’ve cushioned my fall more than a few times. Given my children a place to rests their dreary heads. And most of all, shown me that in my imperfections, I am uniquely perfect.
So I guess, what I want to say is, thank you, thighs. For never giving into the pressure. Without you, I may never have realized that my worth is far beyond the size of my skinny jeans or the way I look in a swimsuit. You are the reason I stand tall today and the example I can show my daughter so she can love and appreciate her own body, imperfections and all.
[Image via iStock]