{The day I felt the most beautiful I ever have in my entire life. Although I must confess, I had one flair up where secretly I was grateful wedding dresses are traditionally long. Doh!}
I have been looking forward to sharing Laura’s story with you ever since she offered be a part of No Fat Talk Tuesday. Laura was a dear friend of mine in college, and when I first met her I was blown away by her joyful spirit and love for life. Seriously, this girl just screams ‘confidence.’ Which is what makes her story even more interesting. I know Laura was nervous to share this story, but I’m so grateful she did, because I can imagine there are plenty of women who can relate. Thanks, Laura! (oh, and don’t forget to check out Laura’s blog, Oakland Avenue) – Madison 
It wasn’t until high school that I really started picking apart my body. My hips were too big, my legs not slender enough, and I considered my ankles two sprains away from the dreaded “cankels.” My arms were acceptable and my stomach was decent, but my legs — oh my legs. You see, I have what I call “marshmallow legs,” legs that are not what I would define as lean or “runway ready,” legs that I wouldn’t have picked if I had a choice, legs that I was so embarrassed of, I rarely wore shorts in order to hide them as much as possible.
Of course, I had to wear shorts at times; I played basketball and ran cross-country (in a secret effort to streamline my legs), but I was self-conscious the entire time. On the outside I was happy, self-assured and confident, but on the inside I was self-conscious, negative and insecure. No one would guess that my thoughts and actions revolved around my embarrassment of my legs. I dreaded pool parties and trips to the lake and often wore shorts over my swimming suit under the guise of “modesty.” On the rare occasion I did show my legs, I often assumed people around me were thinking about how ugly my legs were. It was all I could think about — how could they not be as well?
I tried lifting weights. I tried running. I tried not eating. I tried it all, but none of it gave me the results I was looking for to keep up with the habit — but I still remained obsessed with trying to “fix” my legs.
I berated my legs daily, picking apart every bulge, dent and shape. In the back of my mind, I always thought of how I would trade anything, anything for pretty legs. How my legs were the reason I wasn’t getting asked on a date or the reason I couldn’t go out to the lake with friends. They were the sole reason I didn’t like the way I looked, and at times, the reason I didn’t like myself.
Then, one night in college, something snapped. I’m not going to tell you I suddenly loved my legs. No, I simply began to hate the feeling of hating my legs. I realized that I hated feeling restricted, self-conscious, discontent and ugly because of my hatred of my legs. I began to hate the fact that I’ve hated my legs for all these years.
That night, I realized that I was defining my entire life — what I did, thought, wore and said — by my perception of my legs and my negative self-talk had taken away an enormous amount of enjoyment from my life. From that day on I made a truce with the war on my legs. I promised to get rid of the “leg-lies” (or “fat-talk” as Madison would say) from my life. I didn’t want to think about them any more — it just took up too much brain power. Daily, I strove to think positive thoughts about myself and my legs, and I vowed that I would wear shorts nearly every day in the summer, and I would never again decline a trip to the lake out of my leg-insecurities.
  {I made peace with my legs before I met him, but more than anyone, my husband has helped me find
acceptance of my body.}
 
At first, it took an enormous amount of courage and “self-pep-talk” to bare my legs in public on a regular basis, but over time my mind began to empty of thoughts of “what people around me thought of my legs” and instead I began to enjoy my new found freedom in having confidence in who I was and what I looked like. No more desperately hoping a photo was taken from waist up, no more wondering if that new person I met would judge my legs — life was so much easier when I didn’t worry about those things. They no longer mattered to me and I finally began to accept myself. It was not easy, but over time it has become easier.
Those who know me may think I’m being too hard on myself, and my legs “are not that bad” —but isn’t that the curse of fat talk? That it stops us from seeing the truth? That it illusions us with insecurities, blasts us with lies, and berates us with worthlessness? I nearly backed out of writing this ten different times, wondering why in the world would I admit all the gory details of my insecurities on a very public and popular blog, when I never whispered a word of it growing up?
Then I remember: It’s because I’m willing to bet most of you have your own “marshmallow legs.” Some part of yourself that you have allowed to define yourself, and I want to encourage you today to let. it. go. It’s not worth it. Stop confining yourself to a mediocre form of happiness because you just can’t seem to “get over” that problem area – be it your stomach, arms, hair, weight or whatever. I know how women’s minds work – that annoying fat talk voice is always there, always pestering you, berating you and telling you lies. I heard it every day for years, until I finally got up the guts to stop it.
I said it earlier and I’ll say it again, it hasn’t been easy, but it has become easier. And you can do it. I promise. You may not have a light bulb moment like I did in college, but I hope at some point the switch is flipped for you. Maybe it will be in one crazy instant, or maybe it will be slowly turned on over time, but either way, know that there’s someone out there rooting for you – someone who’s been there in the trenches and has found acceptance of her body. If I can do it, you can do it too. 
I am looking for No Fat Talk Tuesday guest posters for the spring and summer months. If you are interested, email me (madisonjanemayberry@gmail.com) for more information.  
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  • http://rainysaturday.blogspot.com/ Amy

    I felt the EXACT SAME WAY about my legs! It started in middle school and continued for years. I hated changing for gym, always wore shorts at the beach, and usually wore pants in the summer, which meant I was always hot, sweaty and uncomfortable – but I preferred to be hot and uncomfortable versus showing my legs. Like you, I just got sick of hating them for so long. I still don’t love my legs – I’ll always be a big fan of self-tanner – but I’m OK with them and am totally fine with wearing dresses and shorts now. I just tell myself that everyone else is so hung up on their own “marshmallow legs” they’re too busy to notice mine :)

    • Laura Wifler

      Amy, I did the exact same thing – I would just sweat it out in the hot Iowa summers, and honestly, look downright silly in my jeans during 90 degree weather, but I just couldn’t wear shorts! Glad to hear you’ve come to terms with them and you’re right on – nobody’s paying attention!

  • Shan

    Thank you so much for writing this post! I have ALWAYS felt the same way about my legs. Since high school I have been battling this hatred with my legs – and here I ran track and always had to wear shorts! For so long I have hated to wear shorts, swim suits, short skirts, or anything that dared to show off anything above my knee. I always felt like I hung out with girls who had great legs and were able to wear anything and everything – thus driving this hatred deeper and deeper as years have passed. So, THANK YOU for letting me know that someone out there feels the same way I do – in knowing that I’m not alone, this will help me to get over this issue. Thank you :)

    • Laura Wifler

      Shan, I’m so glad you found encouragement in this – I know exactly your pain of comparing your legs with other’s legs who seem “perfect” and how it almost feels unfair that they got “the good ones.” I plan to write a follow up post on my own blog sometime to talk exactly about this topic – it was such a big part of my healing process to realize that people are not judging my legs like I thought they were. Best of luck on your journey; I’m praying for you!

  • Anne

    Thank you for your story! I think so many women (including myself in college) have something they don’t like about their bodies and they can obsess over and let it rule your life. It’s so sad how much we let it rob us of joy and so freeing when we finally break that habit. I think your story definitely resonates with many women!

    • Laura Wifler

      Anne, I completely agree, it’s really sad how much it takes away from each of us! I just wish I could I could have been “shaken awake” sooner so I could start to truly enjoy my life!

  • Rkargas

    Oh, how I wish I could look 24 again. I am now 37. I always hated my body, and now I look back and realize how great I once looked. Now, after three c-section babies, and too much time in the sun, it’s a whole different story! Being vain is such a hard thing to overcome, I wish I could say I am over it , but I’m not……