Feminism | Posted by Izzi S on 07/28/2011

A Lifetime of Leg Hating

I can remember the exact moment I became self conscious of my body. I was 12 and walking home from school when a boy I knew pointed at me, laughed, and said “Look how fat your legs are!”

I looked down at them and for the first time in my life I felt that my body was inadequate.

That moment has stayed with me forever, because that comment sparked a huge complex I had about my legs, something which still bothers me today. For years I only wore trousers and when I finally began wearing skirts and dresses, I always made sure I had tights or leggings on underneath, even in the Summer.

In fact, this Summer is the first since I was 12 that I have gone completely bare legged.

This wasn’t the only cruel comment I received during my teenage years. At school the same boy and his group of friends repeatedly called me ugly, told me I looked like the moon because I was pale and had chicken pox scars, as well as picking on my clothing, hair, anything they could think of, really. Looking back, I realise that this was bullying, but at the time I just accepted it and allowed the comments to feed the negative image I had of myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naive enough to think that I would have loved my body 100% if I hadn’t heard those comments. We all know that young girls are subjected to representations of what they ‘should’ look like in the media and compare themselves to those around them. But I know I wouldn’t have hated my body as much as I did if I hadn’t been told on a regular basis that I was no good.

I doubt that boy has even the faintest idea of the impact he had on my self worth and body image. In fact, he’s passed me in the street more than once without so much as a second glance. Does it make me angry? In a way, yes. I’m angry that people like him get away with causing so much damage. I was lucky that I eventually learned to love myself, but there are plenty of girls who are deeply, emotionally scarred by such knocks to their self esteem. Not just girls who feel the need to wear a mask of make-up or go under the surgeon’s knife, but girls who turn to self-harm and even suicide as a result of negative body image.

It has taken me nearly all of my teenage years to even begin to love my body and appreciate it. Now, I surprise myself when I realise that I don’t care when my friends talk about how they need to lose weight, or how they wish this was smaller or that was bigger. I am in a place where I have accepted myself. I am in a place where what people think of my body is of little relevance to me anymore. I know I am short, I know I’m curvy and I know I’m pale. But above all, I know that I am a beautiful person and no negative comment from a teenage boy is going to convince me otherwise. I just wish more girls felt that way.

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  • Lolita @ at 5:08 pm, July 28th, 2011

    I remember that, I always thought I was ugly (until recently) sinfully so and one day about age seven I was sitting on a laundry basket and my sister told me I had fat legs. . So from then on everything else was too thin but my legs (I was scary skinny) wasn’t until the past few months I’ve accepted my legs and realized they’re muscular (I can easily hit 25km/ph) not fat. . and even then. .

  • Nano Muse @ at 6:01 pm, July 28th, 2011

    Heh, I always feel lucky for my ability to just ignore what other people think of me – I get stupid comments all the time (some even from my mom) and I ignore them easily. I’ve certainly been a little disappointed with some of my body parts but never to the point of catering my wardrobe and/or diet to it. I’ve had some people ask me in shock just how I do it.

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better and embracing your legs*, now, and showing off your legs to the world once more! :D

    * = perhaps literally? :P

  • Lillian @ at 1:20 pm, July 29th, 2011

    This article really struck a chord with me. I never ever get my legs out unless I’m alone and it’s really, really warm. I think part of it is to do with the fact that we never see a woman’s real legs.Even on adverts for razors legs are smooth. I mean really, who shaves legs that are already shaved?? On top of that we have the tan complex to deal with. All in all it’s too much to worry about. My legs are staying in my jeans thank you very much.

  • Rainicorn @ at 4:20 pm, July 29th, 2011

    I was very small when I first read “The Twits” by Roald Dahl, and I think this passage was instrumental in forming my ideas about beauty:

    “If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until it gets so ugly you can hardly bear to look at it.

    A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

  • Rebecca @ at 12:14 am, July 30th, 2011

    Happy first bare legged summer. I’m having mine as well. I’m also having my first bikini w/o boardshorts summer. I live in TX and I have no idea how I survived every summer before this in jeans. At all.

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