Over the past month, a few very specific things have occurred:
- The weather has become incredibly warm, thus making me stop wearing sweaters, long pants, and tights.
- Everyone else around me has also stopped wearing sweaters, long pants, and tights.
- School has ended, so I now have a lot more free time on my hands to use to catch up on the magazines and social media I’ve been ignoring for almost this entire year.
Let me tell you: All three of these events occurring simultaneously has not been the best for my self-esteem, and that is because I have massive legs.
Okay, so not massive as in seam-splitting, fat-fat-fat thunder thighs, but massive as in abnormally muscular. Like, I could definitely feed the entirety of at least one third world country with my left gastrocnemius alone. Like, I remember doing leg-lifts every single night with my queen-sized bed when I was seven years old just because I thought it was cool that I could actually do that. At seven years old!!
Yes, my legs are massive as in bulging with muscles–which I owe to both the tang soo do and softball I did growing up as well as my pigeon-toed feetsies/other genetics–and in the summer, that is bad for my self-esteem.
I’m sure you’re wondering why, since the vast majority of human beings would love–even kill for–big, bulging muscles in their legs, especially dudes. But the grass is always greener on the other side, which is where the other two events I mentioned earlier become important.
I swear, everyone else around me just has the skinniest, little twig-legs that fit into the smallest, little pants sizes and that look so amazing (in that tiny, cute sort of way) in short shorts and short skirts and cropped capris, but then there’s me, with my two hunking tree trunks, standing there looking like an overcooked sausage stuffed in a casing two sizes too small.
Yes, without fail, at the beginning of every summer, I look down and see my grossly muscular legs and then look around and see everyone else’s amazingly thin ones, look in the magazines and on the interwebs and see everyone else’s beautiful, fantastic, incredibly slim ones, and I just cannot help but instantly lose the confidence that I gain (again without fail) every wintertime when my knack for layering draws away from the 100 pounds of meat I carry on my lower half and thus makes me feel good about myself. Yes, being able to compare my legs to those of the others around me due to their visibility makes me feel fat, makes me hate myself and my body and my weight, and makes me want to change it instantly, immediately–now, especially, because I’ll be heading to the beach in a little less than two weeks.
There’s a few problems with that logic of mine, though, the first of all being that I am not fat; I am muscular.
I do not have rolls and rolls of extra flub hanging off of my thighs; my legs are smooth and frankly not even that large at all compared with what they could be. I am unable to fit a US pant size two not because I have excess energy stored in my lipids but instead because I am lacking in said lipids and thus am unable to mush myself into that tiny of a size. I do not weigh 150 lbs. because I am unhealthy and overweight; I weigh 150 lbs. because I am 5’8″ tall and, due to the amount of healthy activity I’ve always had in my life, have nothing but muscle and bone and organs composing my body.
So no, I am not fat. I am muscular, and that’s the problem, especially because, for my whole life, no one has ever discerned that for me. My mother, really, was the only one who ever tried, but when your mom says you’re perfect and therefore shouldn’t change while your doctor says you’re fat and thus need to diet (at age 12…), you’re not going to believe your mother, even if she is another medical professional.
So for my whole life, because I’ve always been taller and more muscular than average, I’ve always believed I was fat. To this day, even, even though I now can distinguish between being fat and being muscular, I still somehow believe that I am not thin enough and thus need to somehow lose weight–a.k.a still believe that I am fat. At 5’8″ tall, at a US shirt size small and pant size 6, I still somehow believe that I am fat. When I look in the mirror, all I see is hugely muscular legs that belong to someone with a very high weight, and when no one other than my own mother has ever told me that that’s okay because it is all muscle, it still makes me feel fat, makes me feel the need to be skinnier.
Case in point, every summer when the layers come off and the free time that allows for magazine reading starts, I once again am reminded of my natural want to not be fat that stems from my abnormally muscular legs, as ridiculous as it may be.
So every summer, I eat both a little healthier and a little less than the last, do a little more exercise (and a little more stressing) than ever before, hoping that it will finally slim me down to the size of Coco Rocha. Even though it never does and even though I know it never will, I still always try, just because I don’t want to be fat.
It’s messed up, right? I’m not fat, yet I find myself always thinking of how I don’t want to get fat. I’ve accepted my genetics, yet I will never stop working to change them, to find a way to magically cut my muscle mass without starving myself to death. I think, actually, now that I say it, my want to not be fat is a little more than messed up; I’m pretty sure it parallels Einstein’s definition of insanity.
So, what I’m taking out of this is that society’s want to not be fat, our desperate longing to not be as big as our genes have coded for, is insane.
Wanting to be thinner than living a healthy lifestyle allows is insane.
We know it is impossible, yet we try and try again to be thinner despite it. Even though we know we will not get thinner than what nature allows us to be, we still keep on dieting and exercising, somehow still thinking that we will eventually get our dream result.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
So yes, being healthy yet still trying to lose weight so as to not be fat is insane, which means that I am insane, and society is insane. We are all insane! All of us who want to keep on getting thin, we’re insane!
I guess that really puts weight loss into perspective, eh?
So in this, I’ve come to the conclusion that I, as well as everyone else, should be striving for health–not a specific size or weight, but health. As cliche as it is, eating right and exercising a healthy amount will both take us to and keep us at the size we were naturally made to be, which is all we should be striving to achieve. And who cares if that’s thinner than the chick next to you or fatter than the sexy guy on tv with abs? At the end of the day, as long as we’re all eating right and exercising, as long as we’re all healthy, that is all that matters. Health, not thinness, is what is important. As Ed Sheeran put it, someone has to win worst dressed; likewise, someone has to be skinniest, curviest, largest, widest, narrowest, tallest, most muscular. We’re all different people, and so we’re all not going to be Coco Rocha, which we must accept: that as long as we are healthy, whatever shape that makes us, it is perfect.
And so I guess this means that I will not be trying to thin my thighs or lessen my calves this summer. Instead, I will be maintaining my healthy, clean diet and keeping up with my daily exercise routines. Who cares if my bottom half is a bit sturdier from it? If that’s how God wants me, that’s how God wants me, and so I won’t be insane and try to change it. I’m fine the way I am, and if I never fit into a size two because of it, I never fit into a size two because of it. If I’m the first killed one day on a desert island because everyone is starving to death and I have the most meat on me, then I’m the first killed one day on a desert island because everyone is starving to death and I have the most meat on me. Oh well! Such is life, and if that is my fate, that is my fate. Why try to fight it?
And if that’s not convincing enough, then just remember that we all die and decay in the end, anyway, and so when it all comes down to it, we will one day all be the same size. And when they pass before our graves, future generations will not be thinking any less of you or me because we were or were not a size two while we were alive. Instead, they’ll be thinking about how old we are and how gross our bones must be.
Morbid, yes, but true. And sometimes, a bit of morbid reality is all one needs to stay on track.