Time for a serious discussion, readers. We have to address the elephant in the room:
The thigh gap.
My husband and I were doing our usual evening bonding by watching Netflix together. After my first week of “getting back on the horse” and dragging my stretch marks to the gym every day, I lay on the couch like a dead slug while my husband sat next to me, scrolling his phone. On screen, some too-skinny actress with legs as wide as my upper arms came strutting into view.
“She has a thigh gap,” I commented enviously.
“Yeah, well. You used to have one.”
Instantly I sat upright. My husband’s face slowly dawned realization of what he had said, like a movie star who calculates slowly that the address of the bomb is the building right behind him, but he can’t stop the explosion as flames spread behind him…
“What do you mean, I used to have a thigh gap? What, I’m not thin enough for you now?!” I was furious, crying, hurt as he stumbled over what he meant, and I stormed away to over-analyze my legs and will them to be smaller.
The problem here is not my husband.
I’m not exactly a fountain of self-confidence. Being a girl who isn’t “skinny”, I’ve found it’s easier just to point that out myself instead of wondering if other people know it. Cue the fat jokes. The complaining about my stomach. The stretch marks I mentioned earlier. Every day I see them in the mirror and I hate them- other people must see them and loathe them too. So I complain. Tweet. Facebook. Text. However I can get relay the message to the world that My body is not pretty and I am aware of it. My whole life, I’ve seen every woman I have ever admired do this same public self-loathing, and it has become a part of how I present myself to everyone… especially my husband, who is most often around when I feel ugly and unloveable.
Announcing my shortcomings does not make them go away… It pronounces them. It enhances them. It gives other people permission to perceive my flaws and see me differently. In other words, it makes me unappealing.
Which is exactly how I picture myself.
Maybe the problem here is not my absence of a proper thigh gap or Michelle Obama arms. Maybe the issue is my refusal to accept who I am, how my body looks. Maybe the pursuit of a toned abdomen has nothing to do with being healthy and everything to do with wanting to be loved. It hurts badly when someone you care for rejects you- but when you reject yourself, you are already saying “I’m not worth your time.” Maybe if I started loving my body, I’d be a happier person. If I were to be a happier person, that would surely translate to the two males I live with– and isn’t their happiness what means more to me than anything else?
I think my entire young-adult life has been focused on the wrong aspect of body image. I have always been afraid- afraid no one would want to befriend me if I was fat, afraid no guy would want me if I stayed a size 8, and now- afraid my husband will be drawn to someone else if I don’t keep up my physique. Running another half-marathon will never banish those fears. Only changing my heart can do that- and it will require a lot more stamina than a cardio workout.
I have no choice from now on but to put on my leggings and rock them. If I want a stable family, a son who treats women with respect, and a happy husband, I have the power to create it with one simple word: attitude. I feel great when I’m in shape, so I’ll still work hard to get back there, but I will focus on being healthy and happy instead of selling my soul to an image I will never attain. If you can relate to any of this, maybe you should rethink your own perspective on your body, too. Do it for yourself and for people you love. Your thoughts belong to you- don’t let them corrupt your life.
Don’t mind the gap.
***In case you missed it, I caved and made a Facebook page. Connect with me here!***