Feminist Spaces: Thighs

By Claire Martens

The men in my life are a never ending fountain of inspiration for this blog. Like the time my friend said that, although fat girls treat you so well, he really just wants a thin girlfriend. It made me think about how apologetic we can be about our imperfect bodies, because we think that men always want thinner, leaner and more beautiful. We are so apologetic, in fact, that we try so much harder to please them when we don’t feel like we deserve them.

When I was 18, I had the perfect body. My muscles were lean, tanned and as smooth as creamed cheese. I thought that I would stay that way for a long time. But then the chunky cottage cheese came with 10 extra kilograms and I wobbled when I walked. I watched my curves expand in the mirrors of the dance studio where I practiced contemporary dance every week. It was a cruel and self-inflicted truth; no matter how hard I pushed my body to respond to my workouts, those mirrors never lied.

When I lay down beside boys, I needed the light off. The crushing embarrassment left my sexuality in tatters. I never turned my back to them because I did not want them to see me from behind. I was always so conscious of my body failing me, belittling me and changing me. I was so messed up about sex, even when I had a younger body. Now, I desperately tried to please men sexually, but never really had the confidence. And yet, my poetry was always about how I wanted people to love me for me, and not for my fading beauty.

I judged myself so harshly because I judged others in the same manner. I used to silently and secretly revel in my teenage beauty; wearing severely short skirts and barely-there t-shirts. And I congratulated myself when I looked better than other girls. It was a continuous competition, dressing for the other women, and not necessarily the men. I looked at their dimples and I loved it.

When I look back now, I see how trapped I had become. I was trapped by my own insecure and untruthful notions of what determined my beauty. I was harsh on myself because I felt like I could no longer compete with all the other women out there. Sex became a means to keep those boys that I loved, a means to please them; and it never mattered whether I was getting the satisfaction, sexually and emotionally, that I needed.

I don’t know when things changed but now, at 26, I no longer think like I used to. Perhaps I walked the path I needed to, in order to get here. Maybe I have worshipped myself enough. Somewhere along the line I realised that we all get older and that we adjust to the changes as best we can. I have adapted to these thighs, revelling in the places they have taken me, the men that they have held between them. I refer to my bum as something that has been places, because it has. And I am no longer afraid to turn my back.

I used to shrug off compliments, but learnt, in time, to accept them graciously. Because by being full of grace, especially when it is directed at your own body, you can begin to feel confident again. It wasn’t about other’s loving me for me, but about me loving me for me. When you stop judging others, you stop judging yourself. As the cliché goes, life is too short. To add one more personal burden to a mountain of life’s trials, is to forget what is really important. Beauty is in everything, you just have to see it for yourself.


1 thought on “Feminist Spaces: Thighs”

  1. Ah the fabulous Claire strikes again with her mighty pen…

    This is recommended reading for girls and boys, I don’t think I ever had your problem of having a perfect body (which is a hard thing to lose). I do find myself getting less judgmental about myself and others with time though, even if I didn’t have as far to go as you did! Still there was that little bit of “I should be thinner and so should everyone else” that I’ve been gleefully letting go lately:) Perfection and beauty are not necessarily the same thing at all.


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