Back in high school, I played a lot of sports, so I always felt really good about being healthy. Things between me and my body were pretty cool and I was okay with how I looked… except for my calves.
I mean, I didn’t love how they seemed kind of big to me, but what was I going to do about it? If anything, I felt the way that my legs were shaped could even be helping me out on the field, so I just accepted them. But that all changed with one little comment.
Riding home from a game one day, one of my teammates said something about my big calves. I don’t even totally remember the context, but it definitely wasn’t meant to be outright mean – rather she said something along the lines of, “Meg, you can relate to what I’m saying, because you have know what it’s like to have big calves.” Well, I just kind of nodded like, “Yeah, sure,” but I basically stopped listening and had a mini-freakout. Even though I had always felt a little self-conscious about my calves, I didn’t think other people thought to themselves that something was “wrong” with how my body looked. I was mortified.
My anxiety was fueled by the fact that my calves were exposed all the time. I was wearing shorts to practice and had to wear a skirt to school basically every day (my school had a lot of drama about the pants girls could wear… but that’s a story for another day), so it’s not like I could really hide them. Instead, I started to get paranoid that my calves were something that EVERYONE was noticing. I’d even strategically prop my backpack in front of my legs whenever I was sitting at my desk. This insecurity pretty continued all through high school.
The kind of crazy thing is that today, I LOVE my calves. I don’t know – if you told me that I would be cool wearing skirts by choice or wearing tighter leggings, I would have thought you were crazy. But I do! In fact, there is for some reason a mirror propped up on the sidewalk near our office (I don’t know, it’s NYC) and every day when I walk by it, I’m not ashamed that I def check out my calves. Seeing them makes me feel really athletic, which is one of the things I love about me.
I wish I could tell you that there was one moment where I had this epiphany and suddenly felt awesome about my calves. It actually just ended up being a really gradual process. Especially after I went away to college, I just found myself caring less and less about what one person had said to me that one time. Nobody had ever said anything similar since, but yet I had actually morphed into my biggest critic.
As I got stronger than I’d ever been by playing field hockey in college, I felt my body confidence start building back up. We were all working toward getting stronger, but that didn’t mean we were all going to look the same as one another. That was a really healthy mentality for me to start getting back to remembering that feeling good was the priority over other people’s opinions.
Every once in a while, I can feel my calves insecurities climb back up. For example, like at Christmas when my mom bought me a new pair of boots and they wouldn’t zip up all the way. Before I could let myself start hating on my calves again, I just went upstairs, put on my favorite jeggings and my heels and strutted around the house. I was bummed I’d have to return the boots, but at least this time, I wasn’t bummed out about how I looked.
Do you ever feel self-conscious about your calves? How do you deal with it? Has someone’s comment about your body ever really affected you? Tell us in the comments.