the thigh problem

november 21, 2017 thighs


i’ve met very few women who like their legs in the general and their thighs in the specific. we all seem to want them to be different. thinner, more cut, less fat, less flesh, and of course, a thigh gap. i admire people who love their bodies and appreciate them for their inherent grace and functional abilities. i’m not there yet. i’m still trapped in a sea of dislike and disappointment in my lack of perfection, despite so many years of soul-destroying effort.

i have a full-length mirror hanging at the end of the hall leading from my bedroom. it’s probably a bad idea. the idea was for me to i stand in front of it and learn to appreciate myself as i am. to try and see myself as i am. i am not enjoying this exercise.

i wonder how helpful it is when the result is my eating disorder voice reminding me of all that is wrong. making me feel awful was not the plan. reminders from the dark side as to how i’m a failure every time i travel down the hall are not fun.

the goal was to move away from all my negative self-talk but i think the location of the mirror makes me think about it too much. it’s too easy to focus obsessively on my thighs and not in a way that encourages self-acceptance and self-love.

the voice in the back of my head is telling me that i should be able to look in the mirror all the time. how can i say i’m recovered if i can’t do that?

the word “should” is weighted. when i hear it or use it, inevitably, my therapist’s voice pops into my head, reminding me i need to let it go. the eleventh commandment is “thou shalt not should on thyself”. “could” is a better word choice. it leaves me less likely to engage in self-recrimination.

as to the second piece of negative self-talk; i’m in recovery but not yet fully recovered. it’s a process. it’s nice when i remember to be gentle; bludgeoning myself is not part of a successful recovery plan.

the thigh thing is a problem though. they are my bête noir. if a genie offered me three wishes, i’d choose world peace, winning the lottery, and supermodel thighs and probably not in that order.

i don’t remember ever liking my legs. i have clear memories of them causing me distress as far back as age ten. they aren’t pencil-thin and i long ago decided that stick-like was how my upper legs should look. i’m working on that belief pattern, unwrapping it to find the cause, and telling myself my legs are awesome just the way they are. i’m trying to let go of the self-talk that convinces me the shape of my thighs is causing problems.

i was told once, when i was quite young, that i had my father’s thighs. i didn’t take it well. i didn’t believe they meant that my legs were strong or powerful. i took it to mean that my legs – and by extension, i – were wrong.

the older i got, the more i became convinced that my legs were grossly fate and the source of my problems. my legs were the reason i got bullied. my legs were why i always felt so wrong. my legs were why people were staring at me and judging me and finding me wanting (or so i assumed). my legs were why i was unhappy. the solution was clear. fix them.

perfection became my goal. i needed to change. i needed very long, very thin legs. i needed them to be smooth and beautiful. i needed them to look like Barbie’s. i believed, absolutely, that once i fixed my legs, things would be okay. things would be better. life would fall into place. i would feel accepted. people would love me. everything would be easy. i wouldn’t be scared, ever again. i put a lot of weight on an unachievable outcome. perfection is impossible, but failure is my fault.

i measured my legs daily and compared the results to the previously recorded ones. when the numbers dropped, i’d be happy. if they stayed the same or rose, i’d be devastated and the self-talk would be brutal. i used to wrap my hands around my thighs whenever i sat, to make sure my fingers could still touch, thumb to index tip. i’d measure the amount of space i took up sitting on chairs or passing through doors. i’d check for my thigh gap multiple times a day. these compulsive behaviours have kept me anxious, unhappy, and overly obsessed with my legs.

the thing is, i’ve had thin legs. at certain weights, everything is thin. objectively, when i look at old pictures, my legs were mostly fine – save for those times when i looked a little starved. it didn’t matter. it didn’t fix my problems. i didn’t feel fine. i wasn’t happy. i couldn’t see that while my legs were okay, my view of myself had become very distorted.

when my eating disorder tells me it wants my legs a little thinner, the look it’s seeking is cadaverous. it’s not that they’re fat, it’s that they have flesh at all. my anorexia and bulimia seek beautiful bones, unencumbered by meat. it’s a self-defeating position, since the loss of all flesh happens only to the dead. eating disorder self-talk ignores that uncomfortable reality when it criticizes.

the ultimate truth: my eating disorder is always trying to kill me.  sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s sneaky, but it’s always on the attack. the only way to choose life is to choose recovery.

it’s back to looking at my thighs for controlled bursts. it’s back to positive affirmations. less frequent mirror time is part of the plan for now. i’m going to keep working on my recovery and ignore the little voice that tries to cause me pain. i’m going to learn to love my legs instead.


By Em

I like writing. Words help me unpack my thoughts so things start to make sense. I suppose that once I figure out life, the universe, and everything (my thanks to Douglas Adams), I'll have nothing left to say. "Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing, and learn as you go." E. L. Doctorow

Leave a comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.