Learn to love your legs blog post on Hurray Kimmay by KimmayA few weeks ago I was sitting in a pedicure chair and my eyes wandered up from the technician to my shins and calves, then my knees, and finally to my thighs. I was wearing denim shorts. I noticed my pale, basically see-through skin, my ruddy knees, my jiggly and stretch marked thighs as they oozed over the chair and out of my shorts. And I thought: “A few years ago, I would never have done this. Hello, legs. I am learning to love you.”

(Style notes above: Sunglasses, Marshall’s; Necklace, J. Crew; Tank top, Old Navy; Shorts, thrift store find; Shoes, Payless. Photo by Becky Yee in Old San Juan)

You may know how passionate I am about helping women upgrade the way they talk to their bodies, and how it all started with busts in the bra fitting rooms of NYC. And yes, I truly think beginning there (for many reasons) is a fantastic place to start. (I just taught an entire workshop on learning to love your bust at the Third Annual Wild Woman Fest). And there are so many other parts of the body that need our love, too. So I’m exploring my, and other women’s, relationships with these body parts. My hope is that no matter where we are on the journey of love, we can each take a baby step forward toward a more loving relationship, while we encourage and celebrate each other. What do you say – hurray?

Today’s topic: legs.

Love your legs blog post, Kimmay in Puerto Rico

Ohhhh this is so tricky for me.

little kimmay fishing, love you legs blog post on Hurray KimmayI shared the above photo a year ago of me when I was about 6 years old. And it had this caption:

Legs for days.

Today I say hurray for these long legs. I didn’t always like them. I didn’t even know I had long legs until other people started commenting on them. My body is 90% legs and 10% torso.

I went through bouts of hiding or covering them because I thought they were pale and you could see my veins, cellulite, or stretch marks. And I went through periods where I celebrated them with short skirts or bright tights. I won’t say it was always one or the other, because it wasn’t.

While packing for a trip I’m taking tomorrow, I found myself packing pants and long skirts. It felt like I had to force myself to pack shorts, when just two weeks ago I felt like a superstar in them. It’s complicated.

So instead of beating myself up, I’m just going to say hurray. Hurray for the ongoing journey of loving my body and myself. Hurray!

A year ago I wrote this. And I’m still on this intentional journey to be more loving to my legs. I started it 11 years ago. Also spurred by me seeing unclothed ladies in the bra fitting rooms of NYC, I realized that I had gone many years without wearing shorts. Somewhere in middle school or high school, I had decided it was not OK for me to wear shorts. There’s a lot of stories that we tell ourselves about our bodies, and we learn them or hear them somewhere. {It’s no one’s “fault”, really. And there are several awesome books, TedTalks, and programs that talk on this topic.} But what’s important is to recognize that they are “stories”. And then ask, are they true?

learn to love your legs blog post, kimmay in shortsOne story I heard was that being attractive and beautiful is good, and that “big” thighs were not attractive. Thus, big thighs were bad. Out of all of the wonderful, uplifting, and empowering things my mom has said to me over the years (and there are MANY!), unfortunately, I remember her saying to a tween-aged Kimmay who was enjoying a sweet treat: “Careful. You don’t want to get thunder thighs.” I had no idea what thunder thighs were. But knew they were bad. And I did many things in my power to keep from having thunderous, big, jiggly, inexcusable thighs. But as I grew, so did my thighs, and so did my fears of being “too much” or “too ugly”. So I hid them. Story: Big, thick legs are ugly. 

On the contrary, another story I heard was in college. I was in a dance class and I was given the task of choreographing my own dance. I had a petite friend help me with the moves, and stuck with some traditional, technical moves like pas de bourrees and chaines. At the end of my presentation, my teacher said: “It was lovely, but I really expected you to use those long, beautiful legs more! Kick them up in the air, reach them out, extend them – something!” She thought it was a travesty that I should hide such gorgeous legs. But she didn’t realize: I had never thought of my long legs as beautiful. I didn’t even imagine them being an asset – not even on the stage. Story: Long legs are an asset. 

One other story I learned was that having long, pale legs was sexy – and dangerous. I remember dabbling with shorter attire and going out for a night with my college girlfriends in NYC. I was wearing a short black dress. I have a short waist, and I’m basically ALL legs, and as I walked, an odd, loud, intoxicated woman began to follow me and hoot and howl and make comments about my legs. She came right up to me, and went on and on and on, finally singing the song: “She’s Got Legs”. I felt harassed, oogled at, unsafe… and all thanks to my legs. Story: Long, exposed legs attract unwanted attention. 

Here are a few stories, love affairs, and relationship building examples that some other women have shared with me:

Katie: I have an early memory from my tween years of my Grandma telling me that we (my Mom, sister, and I) were lucky because we had nice legs and she attributed it to our good genetics, a family trait. I remember being confused when she said it because I didn’t think of my legs at the time as being anything special or worthy of excitement. If anything, I found my legs to be pretty average on a good day or not long enough that I could be a Rockette, which was a bummer! I sometimes think about her words if I’m having a moment of not being thrilled with my height/ body.

Rachella: That’s always an issue. Long legs and “big feets” for women. I really don’t understand that because a lot of the models have long legs😁. I also have long legs compared with my torso but never had problems with it. My sister is taller and older then me and she always had problems with it.

Kait: 

Dear Legs- We haven’t always been on the best terms. Most of my life I heard about how fat you were, “fat” of course being used as the ultimate insult. Amazing how one word could be so full of self-loathing and disgust. Most of the time people didn’t say it to me. Instead they talked about their own fat thighs. Which obviously were smaller than you so OMGOSH WHAT DID THEY THINK ABOUT ME! No one taught me to love you. And sometimes I’ve done a shit job of it. I’ve pinched and prodded and berated and attempted to beat you into submission (and by beat I mean: run, dance, elliptical, lift, etc, etc, etc) Most recently I decided to love you. Instead of bitching about chub rub, I bought anti-friction cream and won’t leave the house without it once summer comes. Instead of buying bathing suits with skirts or boy shorts (because that’s what I was told a girl with thighs like you *should* wear), I went for the bikini. Instead of berating you, I wonder at your expansiveness and strength. Thunder thighs. Thick thighs. Thighs for miles. All mine- to love and appreciate. xo

A photo posted by Kait Scalisi, MPH (@passionbykait) on

Britney:

I literally haven’t worn shorts since I was in elementary school
I don’t like the way the back of my knees look
I joke (as a coping mechanism) that they look like a cabbage patch doll
 I’m very embarrassed by the fat pouches that are there
 And then I also hide my thighs
 I only wear shirts that come down to my mid thigh
 Thus the swim skirts and dresses as well
 Though I never really feel comfortable and confident in swimwear
I feel that my thighs are so large that it looks like my ass is in the front
Not sure where I learned it. I’ve been this way about my legs for as long as I can remember
Even before I hit puberty
I got “curvy” before most of my peers and I definitely was “teased” about my weight. All the way back in kindergarten I would come home crying to my mom that the other kids called me fat
I still cry about my weight
In college guys would actually yell from their dorm room windows about my weight
Wasn’t until I moved to NY that I was actually hit on for my curves
By then I had already had 26 years of body hatred
It’s always me in my head hurling the nasty insults
Really I don’t think hating a part of your body is worth it. Legs or otherwise
I don’t see other people’s knees or thighs
So I doubt people see mine
But obviously I haven’t gotten over myself
Even with an amazing husband and support system of friends who find me beautiful as I am
I can relate to Britney. Though our bodies are very different. I am acutely aware of my leg privilege. My legs could generally be seen as “traditionally or conventionally” beautiful. They are able, they are long, they are white. But why do I still loathe them? Because they aren’t “enough”. They’re not tan, smooth, firm, thin, shiny, or perfect enough. They don’t look like the legs I see in magazines or the red carpet. They don’t hold up to the perfect ideal I have in mind for my body. The cellulite, the stretch marks (that I’ve had since I was 10 when I went through a growth spurt), the veins, the hairs, the spots… they stopped me from wearing shorts for many years.
Now, I’m taking baby steps to love, honor, and embrace my legs. The big jump-start: seeing other women’s legs. In fact, older women. At 20 I snapped out of it. I realized that in 20 years I was going to regret not letting my legs see the light of day. I realized that I was hiding. I realized that I was not going to get very far if I kept on in hate. I realized that love required me to start building a better relationship with my body – including my legs.
I’ve come very far since those years of not wearing shorts. Very far. But I still have my moments when I choose to share the photo that doesn’t show the cellulite. Or I wear a long skirt to cover my pale skin. Or I wish I had sleek, sexy, toned legs to show off. But it’s moments like that one in the nail salon, where I see those “imperfections”, and instead of crawling under a table or running to put on pants, I take a deep breath and thank myself for taking a loving step forward.
Yep, this is a journey I’m still on, loves.

Remember that everyone is in a different place when it comes to building or repairing a loving relationship with their legs. You don’t have to follow my lead and post un-airbrushed photos of yourself in underwear or bathing suits. That’s just where I am on my journey now. And it’s part of my encouragement for showing each other what real human bodies look like – not false perfection in a magazine.

You’ll find images peppered throughout this website that show cellulite, rolls, stretch marks, veins, bruises . . . you know: legs in their natural form. 

You are not required to suddenly 100% without any doubt always and forever love everything about your legs and zero exceptions ever. Relationships don’t work like that. All that’s required: take a baby step. I’ve rounded up 25 different ways to take a step today!

25 Ways to Love Your Legs:

  1. Explore: how do you talk to them? – get to know the way you talk to or about your legs. Journal a few stories you’ve heard or have been telling yourself, subconsciously or out loud. Do you talk about your legs in a positive or negative way? What do you really think about them? What do you believe “great legs” look like? Who told you that? Whose voice are you really hearing?
  2. Write down a gratitude list – How have your legs served you? Where have they taken you (both physically and figuratively)? What about them can you be grateful for? Celebrate your legs and say hurray for any ways you’re already loved them, or can learn to love them
  3. Ask for forgiveness – If you find that some of the things you’re saying to your legs, or have once believed about your legs are not very kind, ask yourself if it’s really true. If it’s not, forgive yourself for the misunderstanding, and set a new intention. Ex: “I lovingly forgive myself for the misunderstanding that only long legs are beautiful legs. And because I think mine are not long, they are not beautiful. It’s not true. What is true is that my legs are able, strong, and have taken me to many wonderful places. And that is a beautiful thing.”Kimmay wearing peach bralette and panty in Puerto Rico bathtubStyle notes: I’m in Puerto Rico and wearing a peach simply soft bralette and a hipster panty (coming soon!) < Yes, I’m actually wearing underwear here, it’s just a really great “neutral for me”. Photo by Becky Yee.
  4. Scrub – make your own or invest in some yummy, exfoliating scrub. Wash away dead skin AND old worries. Make your shower time a leg-loving time. (I love the scrubs at Sabon and there are plenty out there.)
  5. Leg mask – Do an at home spa day and pamper your legs. I want to try this DIY spa mask for legs! Set aside some time to actually sit there, rest your legs, and show them you care.
  6. Lotions and moisturizers – Take care of your skin! Slather your legs in lotion and in love. Take it slow, and really feel the love you’re pouring into this part of your body. Don’t miss a spot!
  7. Shave- I love the silky way my legs feel after shaving. Show your legs some love by giving them a close shave with a good, clean razor-head and quality shave cream (or conditioner). Take your time and truly savor the experience of grooming and caring for this part of your body.
  8. Don’t shave – for some, loving their legs in their natural state is the best way to say hurray! If this rings true for you, go without the razor and let your leg hair grow.
  9. Wax – If shaving often is no fun for you, try a wax! If you’ve always wanted to try it – go for it. Sometimes going to a pro is the best way to show you care.
  10. Pedicure – Let someone else tend to your stems. Perk up your feet, and ask for some special attention to your ankles, calves, and shins when it comes time to apply the lotion. You might even upgrade to a “spa” pedicure!
  11. Hosiery or tights – Adorning your legs with beautiful hosiery, thigh highs, or tights is one of my favorite ways to say hurray! Think of it as putting on a layer of love when you dress them up in a simple, sexy, or silly style!Kimmay wearing Pretty Polly Keys tightsStyle notes: Here I’m wearing Keys Tights by Pretty Polly. Skirt by J. Crew. Shoes by Kenneth Cole Reaction. Photo by Bret Josephs. 
  12. Don’t compare – Remind yourself that your legs are yours and hers are hers. You don’t have to compare your legs to anyone else’s. It’s okay to admire someone else’s beauty, but make sure you’re taking loving steps to recognize your own, too.
  13. Compliment other women – that being said, sincere compliments are so important! Helping other women find the beauty in themselves often opens up the loving feelings all around. Give her permission to love her legs, and you’ll move closer to embracing our own beauty.
  14. Compliment yourself – Of course, that goes for you, too. Give yourself the permission to see your own beauty. It’s OK to love yourself. It’s OK to find pleasure in your own body. Say it out loud, say it in the mirror, say it and say HURRAY!
  15. Photo shoot – I think doing a boudoir or fun photo shoot is a great way to own your sexy, and see yourself in a new, beautiful light. Looking at your legs in the bedroom mirror with sub-par lighting is one thing. Posing for a professional in a beautiful studio or on location is another. Put those gams out there and let the camera love them, and see if it helps you unearth some opportunities to love your legs.
  16. Massage – probably my favorite just because I LOVE massages. You can get a leg and foot massage at some places, or go all in for a full body massage while you’re at it. It will increase blood flow and work out knots in tight, sore muscles. You can also use a tennis ball or massage accessory to massage yourself, or ask a friend/loved one for help.
  17. The best shoes – sometimes that means the ones that are the most comfortable, and sometimes it means wearing something gorgeous that shows off your legs. Ask yourself what would be the most loving pair of shoes you could wear for your legs today.Kimmay wearing red shoes and queens shirt in Puerto Rico, love your legs blog postStyle notes: Sunglasses from Marshall’s; Shirt from Lockwood Style in Astoria, Queens; Bra by OnGossamer; Shorts and shoes by H&M. Photo by Becky Yee in Puerto Rico.
  18. Try shorts – You don’t have to go from “I haven’t shown my legs in years” to “daisy dukes” overnight.  Or ever, actually. Wear what feels comfortable and good for you. Maybe start with capris, shorts to the knees, rolled shorts, etc. Find the fit, cut, color, and length that feels best for you and your legs. That little bit of extra time spent, WITH LOVE, in the fitting room means you may have a whole new way to say hurray for your legs.
  19. Show them off – If it feels like the loving thing to do, go for that short skirt, fun shorts, or mini dress! Test it out by walking around your house, then your neighborhood, maybe a trip to the store, then a get together with friends, etc.
  20. Keep them to yourself – You don’t have to show them to the world to prove you love your legs. Take a solo exploration of your legs in all of their glory
  21. Share them with someone you love – though it’s not healthy to depend on someone else’s love of our legs, it’s sure nice to hear a compliment. If you love them, share them! Wrap them around your lover, go bare legged at home, let a sexy partner that you love and trust explore them with their eyes, hands, a feather, or their tongue. Receiving love on this part of the body can feel very vulnerable. Allow yourself to ease into it.kimmay wearing yellow top and black pants in Puerto Rico, love your legs blog postStyle notes: In Puerto Rico and wearing peach ponte slim pant; Hat from Gap; Necklace by J. Crew; Sunglasses by Under Armor; Top by Target; Sandals by Ipanema
  22. Wear form fitting pants – you don’t have to actually show any skin to appreciate the shape or curve of your legs. Go with some leggings, tight pants, or jeans with lots of stretch. Just make sure your leg muscles can breathe and you feel comfortable 😉
  23. Exercises – Show them some love, tone up that muscle, and increase blood circulation. You can start with basic feet flexes or leg stretches, then move on to more rigorous exercise plans and muscle building.
  24. Tattoos – OK this one sounds funny but it’s actually very sweet. I do this a lot with groups of women. You can use any flash or other temporary tattoo. First, cleanse the part of your leg where you want to put the tattoo, and wipe away an old, unhelpful habit while you’re at it. Release old feelings. Then, apply the tattoo and while you hold it in place, set a new, loving intention for your legs. It can be where people will see it or not. This intention is for you and your heart. Now, every time YOU see that tattoo, you’ll be reminded of your new intention and your commitment to take a baby step toward loving your legs.
  25. Move – Get those legs moving! Take your lovely legs on a walk around the block, if you’re able. Bonus points for skipping or jumping. Or join me in my favorite way to get my legs moving: dancing! Whether it’s in your kitchen (like me, every morning), in the club, or in a class – let’s dance!kimmay dancing in puerto rico, love your legs blog post on hurray kimmay

Style notes: Dancing in the streets of Old San Juan! I borrowed this dress from my photographer, Becky. And I’m wearing shoes from Payless and Sunglasses from Marshall’s. Photo by Becky Yee. 

Your Turn: Choose a handful of the above 25 options (there’s quite a few to choose from!) and put them into your calendar to do… and do them. Which feel more difficult and which are easy? What stories are you telling yourself about your legs? Do you love them? Can you stretch yourself to love them a little more? Share with me here or send me a tweet

xoxo kimmay

PS: Some items in this post were provided by the brand. I always give my honest opinion, and anything I share I share because it truly makes me say hurray!

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