The c-word (not *that* one, jeez)
The words slipped out of my mouth before I had a chance to think about what I was saying.
My son and I had just walked in the door after an early pick-up from school due to him puking all over his shoes during center time. Since we both had vomit on our clothes in some capacity—him from doing the puking, me from hugging him after arriving in the clinic due to said puking—we quickly stripped down to our skivvies* right there in the living room so I could shove all the contaminated items into the washing machine.**
“Ugh,” I muttered. “Gross.”
I wasn’t talking about the barf.
As I slipped out of my jeans, I caught a glimpse of my thighs and just couldn’t keep my mouth shut. All I saw were dimples. Lumps. Bumps. Dimply-lumpy-bumps. And I wanted to cry—no I wanted to sob out great big, ugly tears of frustration…and maybe even a little shame?
It wasn’t that I was surprised by those dimples and bumps. They’d been there since my early 20s. But my familiarity with them didn’t exactly inspire friendly feelings.
You see, overall, I’m a fit, healthy person: I eat well; my BMI is right where it should be; I exercise regularly; and I fully subscribe to the saying that “a little resistance training each day keeps the osteoporosis away.”***
However, I am also 34-year-old woman. Cellulite is part of my reality, and according to Scientific American, it’s probably part of yours. Around 90 percent of women have it (but only 10 percent of men because of course) and it’s typically chalked up to hormones and heredity. It’s a completely normal—and sometimes completely unavoidable—part of being a female human.
So why was it all that I saw when I got undressed? Instead of, say, the legs that run 15 miles a week or the strong core and arms I’ve built over the last seven years of hauling a kid around?
Why do I seek out creams, lotions, and potions that promise (falsely) to make this normal thing go away?
Why do I avoid wearing shorts in public, even in the thick of Virginia’s ridiculously humid summers?
Why do I untag myself in any Facebook or Instagram posts that reveal less-than-smooth legs, even if I otherwise look happy, healthy, or just like myself?
Why did I have such a visceral, vocal reaction to it—to something on my own body?
Why do I subject myself to this bullshit?
In that moment, my son thought I was commenting on the bodily fluids crusting up on our clothes, rather than the texture of my skin. For that I am thankful. He’s going to be exposed to plenty of opinions on what female bodies are “supposed” to look like; he doesn’t need the unrealistic expectations to start with me.
And neither do I. Enough of that noise.
I’m probably never going to love those dimply-lumpy-bumps, but I refuse—refuse— to hate them anymore.
*Modesty cannot come into play when puke is involved.
**Per the CDC’s recommendations for dealing with norovirus, which is the cause for most stomach bugs. It is also The Devil. I will rant about it in a future post.
***That’s not really a saying, but it should be. Seriously, ladies, do some push-ups—and not just to get those Michelle Obama arms.
(Image by Dion Gillard)