MAY 22, 2018
I immediately felt self conscious, uncomfortable and unattractive.
It’s crazy how someone who is supposed to love you unconditionally can make you feel unloved.
I didn’t know to be body conscious until my skinny “friends” in junior high made a reference to my thunder thighs. It wasn’t an expression I’d heard before then. I had my mothers build, which I saw as strong and beautiful – she did birth three children and played competitive softball, after all – but I never heard her make comments about her own body, so why would I do the same?
Up until then, I didn’t really think there was anything wrong with my solid build. I’m more pack horse then thoroughbred, but I didn’t see that as a bad thing. I was just different. Growing up, I danced, did gymnastics and played soccer. I rode horses and skied. The neighbourhood kids and I would ride bikes and play kick the can and cops and robbers until the sun went down.
I was an active kid, but I was a little soft around the edges. I accepted that until that moment in the girls locker room.
Ever since that first thunder thighs comments, I have become much more aware of my body: my round face, chubby cheeks, small boobs, soft belly, booty, thighs; The stretch marks on my hips and the tiny burst capillaries that have appeared after repeat contusions to my outer thigh.
When my ex made the squat comment, I had been working out to be strong, not to be slim. I had and have accepted that I will never be a skinny girl, but when he questioned my work out, all the work that I’d done felt like it was for nothing.
It’s amazing how much power we give others to make us feel small… emotionally, that is.
I am still in the process of accepting my body and working with my build. This is largely fuelled by my vanity and my desire to be a positive role model for my three beautiful, perfect nieces.
When I was in my early twenties, I dated a guy who had his own insecurities with his body.
Instead of my thunder thighs, this boyfriend constantly made comments about my small boobs and was very vocal about his desire to buy me new boobs.
I’m certainly not opposed to plastic surgery, but in the moments that I actually considered getting a boob job I couldn’t help but feel disgusted by the fact that another person had made me feel like I needed bigger boobs to be beautiful to him.
Some girls grow up influenced by TV and Fashion Magazines. They feel like their bodies aren’t enough until they look like the bodies of celebrities and models. I didn’t feel like that. I didn’t compare my body to cover girls. Why bother? I had men in my life to tell me I wasn’t OK exactly as I was. I didn’t need any societal pressures because I was getting them from my inner circle.
As if I wasn’t constantly scrutinising my body enough, when I approached 30, everything seemed to change. My turtle pace of a metabolism turned into that of a snail. I wear everything I eat, not because I’m messy (I am), but because my body seems to hold on to every single calorie. If I don’t move my body I get stiff. If I don’t do weights I get soft. If I don’t do cardio in some form, my lungs burn on the soccer field.
A few weeks ago, I was changing after yoga when an older woman asked me if I trained for anything. I clumsily responded that I have played soccer for 25 years.
“You’re really fit,” She said to me smiling, then left.
My guardian angel.
In hindsight, my response is that yes, I am training for something: life.
I am training to saunter through the mountains, surf, and race my nieces down the driveway.
I’m training to feel strong in chattarunga and chair pose.
I’m training to ride through 3 feet of powder and coming out the other side of a run feeling invigorated instead of depleted.
I am training to be able to do all of these things for the foreseeable future.
I am training so that if there comes a time where I get the privilege of having my own baby, that I am a healthy vessel for the little parasite (I say that with love) to grow.
So yes, I have thunder thighs. I have small boobs. And lucky me, any time I do lose weight the boobs are the first. While most of the time I love my body I have moments of uncertainty and discontent.
If only I looked like her.
If only he found me attractive.
But then I remember the volcanoes I’ve hiked and the waves I’ve surfed and the arm balances I’ve worked my way into, and I think, yes, this is what it’s all about. This is what it’s for.
Almost 25 years later, that little girl with the thunder things and the chubby cheeks has grown into a woman, with thunder thighs and chubby cheeks coupled with crows feet and a few sunspots; the kind of woman who goes for a run (to the bakery) and does summit hikes (and drinks beer). I’ve come to appreciate the capability of my body even if it doesn’t look exactly as I’d like, and I am forever grateful for that wise woman in the dressing room to point out that strong doesn’t look the same on everyone.
Contentment doesn’t look the same on everyone.
I’ll always be a little soft around the edges, but I think I prefer it that way.
Ashley is a surfer, yogi and writer living and loving in Calgary, AB. She aims to write the way she lives – freely and unapologetically.
Read more of Ashley’s essays at www.anothergirlnamedashley.wordpress.com or follow her on Instagram @anothergirlnamedashley