That’s how much of my life passed without wearing shorts. Eighteen years.
I’m only 28 years old!
Looking back 18 years ago, I can tell you just what happened. It was a spider vein on my right thigh. By all accounts it was tiny. But, it was enough.
I had never seen a spider vein and I didn’t know what it was. I was 10 years old and I asked my mom. When she told me she said it would never go away, and something shifted. Suddenly I didn’t feel perfect and smooth and like I was a princess anymore. I maybe even cried.
I had a spider vein.
I started making sure that anything I wore was long enough to cover up this horrid offense.
I can’t help but think that if I had ever seen a spider vein in a magazine or on a happy frolicking teen on my favorite show maybe I wouldn’t have been so disappointed in my own body and its inability to keep its veins to itself.
Not to mention cellulite, which probably started creeping in a couple of years later. And that was just the end. How could I possibly bare my legs to the world with a combination of cellulite and a tiny, imperfect vein? I thought I couldn’t.
And, suddenly, 18 years passed and I held onto my shame, founded in this delusion that I needed to be perfect to be happy.
This was the beginning of 18 years of hating my body and hiding my legs. Eighteen years of having very specific mental guidelines for clothing choices: short skirts were okay as long as they covered the vein, yoga capris or bloomers that hit above the knee were acceptable, a couple of times I even tried pulling off shorts over leggings (which was pretty much a disaster). I always thought, “When my legs get better, I’ll wear shorts. It’s fine.” And, suddenly, 18 years passed and I held onto my shame, founded in this delusion that I needed to be perfect to be happy.
A few years ago, I was discussing my no-shorts rule with a friend. She finally looked at me and said, “I’m pretty sure you have body dysmorphia because there’s really no reason at all that you can’t wear shorts.”
I had been working on self love for years at that point. And I continued working for years. I knew I had a goal in mind: build up the confidence to put on a freaking pair of shorts in public!
Finally, this past month I started wearing shorts. I ran around on the beach, I chilled out in a hammock in public with my legs in clear view, I even started teaching classes in shorts. It was terrifying and it was so freeing to finally fully embrace the fact that no one ever cared about my legs at all—it was all in my head. A loop playing over and over for 18 years of my precious life.
On this journey of loving myself, I’m finally extending love to my thighs, who have suffered an awful lot of hate for no reason at all.
No one was ever judging my poor pale thighs. The same strong thighs that can carry me up a mountain and hold me in Warrior 2 for upwards of five straight minutes. On this journey of loving myself, I’m finally extending love to my thighs, who have suffered an awful lot of hate for no reason at all. For being less than a photoshopped fake-o version of themselves.
My thighs aren’t perfect. Neither am I. But I’m growing everyday. I’m becoming more and more conscious of my patterns, and I’m stepping outside of them. Even when it’s scary, I’m wearing shorts.
Photo by Flickr user adifans.
Elizabeth Crisci is a yoga teacher and artist in Fairfield County, Connecticut. She is the creator of Love by E, handmade gemstone mala and jewelry. She teaches in workshops, special events, and trainings in the Northeast in addition to a range of regular, weekly classes. She teaches smart and accessible yoga designed to make you feel good. She loves every minute of her work. You can find her writing and her teaching schedule on her website.