I stopped wearing shorts in public in 3rd grade. Well, maybe I didn’t stop just then, but that’s when I started getting self-conscious about my (not yet) fat legs. I switched schools in 3rd grade, pretty close to the end of the year. One particularly warm day, I wore those really fantastic stretchy shorts every (poor?) kid had in the early ’90s, along with my name written in red sharpie on a piece of masking tape across my chest. It was gym day and this was my standard “I have anxiety because I’m not athletic and get to prove it to everyone once a week” uniform.
I don’t think the bus even pulled away from my bus stop yet when this girl, whom we will call Jessica because that is her name and if she wanted me to write nicely about her, she would have behaved nicely toward me, leaned up into my seat and said, “If you’re going to be riding my bus, I don’t want to see your nasty fat legs ever again.” Little did I know this would be the start of a lovely bully/victim relationship that would have me counting down the days until Jessica and her class graduated.
Every time I wore shorts or capris or anything else that might show my legs, I would be in a constant state of nervousness, just waiting for the first fat comment. I don’t think I ever made it through a day of elementary/junior/high school without at least a dozen thrown my way. Few actually stick out, like Jessica’s, but the rest were a blur. There’s only so many times you can hear someone wittily say, “YOURE FAT!” before you start saying, “OH MY GOD NO WAY,” rolling your eyes, and going back to your book.
I gained a tremendous amount of self-esteem and self-worth after I graduated high school, but I never wore shorts. Or capris, really. I even lived in Georgia (but never Texas) for four years without wearing them. I was quite open about my fatness, not caring who commented about my big, billowy arms or rolls or whatever, but I drew the line at letting my legs out. I hate to admit it, but Jessica got the best of me for the longest time. Her words in 1994 kept me with hot legs in 2012.
I just bought my first pair of shorts and first pair of capris this summer because I refuse to be any warmer than necessary. I’ve been meaning to participate in the “I’m Proud Of My Size” link up for weeks, but I’ve just been lazy. And I never have occasion to take a head-to-toe picture, nor am I ever dressed for such an occasion. My mother snapped one of me yesterday while I was talking to her when I came back from church. Success! Sort of. It’s blurry. She’s not all that great at her iPhone camera yet, but I have faith in her. My shorts were in the wash, but my capris are just as big of a deal for me.
I’m a size 26, and I’m proud of it.