Okay, so maybe that’s not entirely true; I’d hit puberty a few years earlier, and no doubt I’d been carrying around a wide, womanly pelvis for awhile before it crashed my Wednesday night dance class. But it was at that moment, up on my toes and executing a bourrée across the room’s diagonal, when I took a sidelong glance in the studio mirror and thought, Oh My God.
Because there they were. Hips. Huge, ungainly hips. Where the other dancers had stick-straight figures, long legs, powerful and sculpted shoulders, I looked like a pear in pointe shoes–with the aforementioned hips, a round, wide bottom, and full thighs that made it abundantly clear, as I struggled to keep my balance amid the sudden wash of self-loathing, that no amount of practice or dieting would change the fact that my body would never, ever look like a ballerina’s was supposed to.
I quit ballet the next month.
And it didn’t end there. In a sea of pert, perky high school girls with boyish, athletic figures, my hips made me look like a matronly outlier. Shopping for jeans was a nightmare. Two of my frenemies christened me “saddlebags”. My then boyfriend, who enjoyed preying on my insecurities, made constant references to my “child-bearing” figure as compared with the bodies of other girls he’d dated. Even the well-meaning comments from my mom and aunts – “But you look like a woman!” – just made me feel worse; who wanted to look “like a woman” when all the biggest models had boy-shaped bodies? By the time I graduated, my hips weren’t just part of my body; they were the bane of my existence, even bigger in my mind than they were in reality. What had two thumbs and a raging case of body dysmorphia? Oh, yeah: THIS GIRL.The saddest part? I didn’t see how things could ever be different. My hips weren’t going anywhere, and I assumed that I’d always hate them – that being comfortable in the world would always mean being pretty uncomfortable with my body. But then something happened: I stepped outside the mainstream, just a little. I took up yoga, hip-hop and modern dance, putting my years of ballet training to use in a place where my hips were an asset instead of a shameful flaw. I cultivated a taste for classic movies, where classic beauties flaunted their curves without shame. I bought vintage clothes from the 1950s – back when my petite frame and small waist was a dressmaker’s dream – and twirled in front of the mirror, finally seeing my curvy lower half in a different light.
This isn’t to say that I never have days where I pound on my outer thighs with a frustrated fist and growl at them for being so damn wide – even with mature confidence to match my mature curves, shopping for jeans can still be a real pain in the pelvis. But then I remember what I’ve got: a closet full of incredible vintage duds, a seriously committed yoga practice, and a husband (yup! Someone awesome wanted to marry these hips!) who thinks that my “child-bearing” figure is sexy as hell for reasons that have nothing to do with reproduction.
Which means that narrow beauty standards and body insecurity can kiss my oh-so-womanly ass.
Do you have wide hips or trouble fitting into jeans? Tell me all about it in the comments!