I was an outdoor sports lover. I lived to bask in the sun and run as fast as my legs could take me. Even as my body changed from gangly 7 year old to chubby 11 year old, I was constantly on the move. I kicked up a storm in the pool and even today, when I lie in bed, I kick my feet like as if I’m free styling in the pool. It’s a force of habit!
My feet are able and that is an achievement for me everyday. Many of you will be familiar with the mishap back in 2004 that rendered me wheelchair bound, with minimum chances of physical mobility. As you can see I challenged that diagnosis and live to tell the tale. It was one of the most intense experiences of my life.
I actually found that picture above online lol because I didn’t take pictures post-surgery (wasn’t a priority) but my foot was actually double the size of this foot, darkened to a purple hue and the surgery scar was not simply at the Achilles’ tendon but all around my foot.
Gaining a new lease of life with my newfound mobility comes with a unique set of daily challenges. Outdoor sports, running, dancing are out of the question. Vigorous gym exercises are too much of a strain. Even yoga has to be gentler because my feet cannot take all of those poses. It is a whole new way of life. I have had to learn to be more considerate to my feet else I may have a few days of bed rest to ease the pain. Some days the pain and swelling flare up out of the blue and there is nothing that I can do except for take care of it and be patient. Yes my days are complicated by swollen feet, restless leg syndrome and pain but I do my best to take good care of them and that is why I stand on my own two feet with pride everyday.
Thankfully not all of my favourite activities have been banned, swimming is very therapeutic and walks around my neighbourhood keep them active. I have to make a point Not to be sedentary as it hurts the blood circulation and actually makes the feet more susceptible to sprains or swelling. Some days with the pain and tension on the feet I would rather not move around much but I remind myself of the repercussions of not moving for an extended period of time. So that’s the story of my feet!
I love how defined my calves are over the years thanks to the years of being a dancer and gym rat. I have a strong set of calves and knees that I have learnt to take better care of since the foot mishap. It is even more important now to keep them strong.
My shoulders are proportionate to my hips, which makes me one of those plus size bodies people love to hate. Well they’re still plus sized thighs folks! Shopping for bottoms with these thighs in mind is never easy. They became thick in my teenage years as my curves came in and have remained so. No amount of working out and dieting can slim these thighs. This is how I am built!
These thick thighs are drizzled in cellulite and odd pigmentation. Which is why I am not in the habit of wearing short shorts or mini skirts; not even when I was an in-betweenie. With serious leg injuries the last thing that came to my mind was how my legs looked.
Of course to a complete stranger they picture a whole other story in their heads and some of these idiots make it a point to let it be known to you. After a few months of swimming post-injury, I stopped for a few years because it became very upsetting to be made fun of in the public pools. I remember how tough it was to get my feet to grip the wet tiles in order to keep me from slipping and how much of an effort that was. These people managed to take away the one sport I was still able to enjoy.
Imagine my joy when my folks moved 5 mins away from me this year and I had pool access without having to concern myself with idiots like the ones in the public pool. Or so I thought.
Do you recall my Gabi Fresh Swim Sexy post with that one piece swimsuit? Last week I chanced upon a local Singaporean Indian fellow’s blog who copied my post onto his website word for word and turned it into a fat shaming spectacular. It was filled with fat shaming gifs, memes, ‘fat people Health statistics’ and his personal demeaning comments on me and how I looked and what he thought about me. I was shaking after I read his post. I felt violated. I felt disgusted by his blind hatred.
This wasn’t the first time someone saw nothing but a body to hate and ridicule. It brought me back to how small I was made to feel despite my well meaning efforts to keep myself active by swimming. The clear message I got was : I hate everything about you. Get out of my sight. You freak me out. You anger me. You disgust me.
The biggest difference between the Aarti back then who stopped going to the pool and the Aarti now who was shamed for being in a swimsuit is this:
I move on. Within a day of that asshole’s blog post, I strode to my folks place..dropped my towel with no shame and had myself a languid swim. Wanna stare at them thighs? Go right ahead. Wanna disapprove? Fine. Just do not expect me to ruin my happiness over your preconceived notions. You don’t know me. I don’t know you. So excuse me for not giving a shit.
Not everyone has the luxury of physical mobility. There are amputees, conditions that cause paralysis, people born without a leg, people who experience constant pain and instability with osteoarthritis and children with cerebral palsy. Those are just a few examples of how mobility can be taken away. In the larger scheme of things if I give such fools permission to affect my wellbeing then shame on me. I know how I live my life and take care of myself. That is all that matters. I look up to people who inspire and empower in the hopes of doing the same for others. THESE are the people that matter.
Jackie Hagan is someone I stumbled upon after reading this post on BUSTLE. She is a ‘lemonade’ girl, a term I use for people who turn life’s sour lemony experiences into delicious well worth your buck lemonade lessons. She performs her show “Some people have too many legs” to theatregoers and it speaks of facing your fears. She also runs workshops, has a book published and well basically is a chick I would very much like to meet and give a big hug someday for the message behind her work. You can visit her website here.
Stacey Baker, a photo editor at the New York Times has a gorgeous Tumblr site called Citi Legs. What started out as self scrutiny of her legs metamorphosed into a project that celebrates size and style diversity through taking photographs of women from the waist down. Check out her interview by Refinery 29 here.
And of course, there is no lack of inspiration from the body positive community. I am not sure how many of you are aware of the ban of the hashtag curvy on Instagram. It was done with no warning and to say the body positive community was enraged is putting it mildly. To be surrounded by people who understand the stigma of being a certain size or colour and to remain empowered through the sense of community is a very powerful thing.
Last year, I was still afraid of wearing a two piece swimsuit. I hadn’t even done a proper one piece swimsuit shoot. I worked hard at that insecurity last year and asked myself pertinent questions. I asked myself : were the words I used to criticise my thighs my own? Wasn’t there anything I liked about them? Why was I being so unfairly harsh on myself? Who did this benefit?
I felt wistful when I watched my friends posting pictures of themselves having a good time splashing in the pool. Mostly because I was denying myself the incredible amount of joy and serenity felt when I was in a pool.
I cannot run. I cannot dance. I cannot play tennis or trek mountains or hike up a hill. But I Can swim. I needed to stop hiding and having a hand at stealing my own happiness.
So I gradually began to stop hiding. I took these pictures of myself and learnt to see the good instead of the ugly.
On the lighter side of leggy issues, how many of us know the many joys that come with this heat and humidity and our legs? Chub rub, sweaty car seats, sweat stains on your skirt Eeeek! There’s this really funny (although kind of problematic) post by Cosmopolitan magazine I relate to and I’m sure a few of you will as well! I’ve got a few of my own chub rub solutions, but the sweaty thighs oh my that’s just uncomfortable.
Allow me to share a personal anecdote. I adore boyfriend jeans especially those that are slightly ripped. They’re comfortable, roomy and I never worry about my thighs rubbing with them. BUT be careful how you slide in and out of a car because your blogger friend here did her usual tomboy jump into the cab and girl, those jeans became obscene lol. I mean, there was way too big a hole and I didn’t want my lady parts out there for the whole world to see. Lesson learnt!
At the end of the day, this picture sums it up for me :
We have such beautiful, varied forms waiting to be dressed and adorned. As an Indian woman, henna and anklets are a beautiful touch to my feet. Thigh highs are so hot. Shoes are such statements. Skirts are all kinds of sexy on us while shorts keep us comfortable. Pants make us look sharp and stylish.
Our legs should be busy trying to take on the world and stamping our presence. While I appreciate them, I am so done obsessing over them.
check out my fellow Unconditional body beautiful bloggers :