So, I’ve got long legs.
I’ve got REALLY long legs. For my height, 29.7″ is the average inseam length.
Mine is 34″.
[And because I know you’ll ask, average inseam for a female is about 45% of her total height. I am 66″ tall, .45 x 66 = 29.7″. I geek out now. Math is good.]
I’ve spent a lot of time over the last month thinking about my body. I’ve dissected it apart, taken photographs, talked about all the things I’ve found. I’ve done some great introspection as to the parts of me I don’t like, and I’ve learned more about why I don’t like those parts.
For the most part, the only parts of me that are left to talk about are the ones I actually like.
As it turns out, writing and examining the parts of me I like is almost harder than dealing with the parts I don’t.
I would guess that for most of us habitual body-haters, talking about our good parts is hard. I spent a lot of years hating myself, and during the darkest parts of self-disgust I did not one time praise myself for my …well, for anything.
Why is that, do you think? Why do we do that?
I’m sure I could have found SOMETHING nice to say about myself. I’m sure, if I’d looked, I would have found one physical attribute to praise.
I didn’t even look.
I didn’t even TRY.
Don’t get me wrong, I did THINK things. There were passing thoughts here and there, little sprinkles of hope and seeds of pride dropped on my head by my self and others. With a mist of confidence, a thought of “maybe I don’t suck” would breeze through my head and heart, I’d pause, my breath would catch in my throat and I’d feel butterflies.
Then the other voice would pipe up, and the flittering joy would disappear.
“No, you’re wrong. You’re gross. That good thing doesn’t matter, because you’re gross. I’ll remind you why.”
What followed was an exhaustive, always painful, sometimes not even factual list of all the reasons I was not enough. The voice in my head would rip me apart, push me around, and tell me how all the other people around me were better in all the ways, and I listened.
And I believed.
One day, my sophomore year in high school, my English teacher asked each of us in class to pick one good thing about ourselves, either a physical feature or character trait, and write a paper about it.
I was a 4.0 student, and I almost didn’t complete the assignment on time. I couldn’t do it.
That night I sat at my desk, at home in my room, and I ran through every physical feature I could think of. I ran through every character trait. I considered every emotional strength, every potential spiritual gift (of which I was sure I had none), and I ran through every comment I’d ever received about my outward appearance.
Then I sat in the semi-dark, my mind a complete blank, and I cried.
No matter what anyone else saw, I couldn’t find even one thing to be proud of.
In hindsight, my legs were one of my parts that gave me most hopey sprinkles. I’ve always kind of liked them. They’re long. They are fairly slim. I was teased about them a lot as a kid, but that was okay. They made me different. Even through high school I was called “chicken legs” and “stork.” One time a friend had coupons for shave gel, and he said “here, you’ll need six of these.” Even if he had meant it as a joke, like “you’re so hairy you need more,” I took it to mean “legs for days.”
And as I say that out loud, do you see why perception makes such a difference?
That voice, the ugly one in your head that shuts down the hopeful thoughts, it’s a solitary voice with a slanted perspective. The way that voice sees you, your body, your life, and the world is not the ONLY way to see those things.
What could have been an insult (“take six shave coupons”) was transformed into something else.
Regardless of what he intended by the comment, whether he intended help or harm, I chose to take it as help. I chose to turn that comment into something that I could draw power from. I chose to perceive his joke as one of admiration, not one of denigration.
No matter what he intended, I won.
I’d ask again, “Why don’t we do MORE of that,” turn the bad stuff into the good, but I know the reason why.
The bad stuff is easier to believe, and the good stuff takes a bit of work to find.
We, as body haters, live our lives on the defense. We’re always waiting for one more thing to drive us into the dirt. We wait for the other shoe to drop. We expect bad things to happen, we expect people to think bad things about us, because deep down inside, we think we deserve those things.
You don’t deserve to be ripped apart, by anyone else or by your self. You deserve to feel GOOD. You deserve to live a life not just sprinkled in hope, but DRENCHED in it. You deserve a downpour over your head of such great, loving, wonderful, spectacular self-worth, you’re drenched through your skin into your very guts and soul.
as soon as you believe that, it will start.
There was a time in my life when I cried to find something good about myself. There was a time when I would die one thousand times before I said out loud “I like my legs, I like myself.”
I love myself. I LOVE MY LEGS. They are long and slim, even at 38, even after three kids. I expect they will remain as such throughout my life. I won the genetic lottery with these stems, and I am done apologizing for them.
No more apologies. No more hiding.
Time to find the best parts of yourself, and PUSH INTO THEM. Find the things that make you great, wear them like glitter and tinsel, jewels and crowns. Own your great parts with the same ease and fervor that you own the bad, PLUS MORE.
Live loud, my friend.
You deserve every ounce of joy the best parts of you can bring.
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Live every day like it’s your last one. Find yourself, own your truth, and change your whole world. Forge Depth, and never stop digging.