Body image and feeling good or bad, or even just paying attention to what I saw in the mirror, hadn’t really been something I’d spent much time on until I’d reached my thirties. Oh, I’d had my feelings hurt in high school by a bully who insisted on referring to me as “Thunder Thighs,” but how I looked, or rated as far as attractiveness, entered my mind only as a fleeting thought, if at all outside of the name-calling.
I knew that I was strong with powerful legs from riding horses and playing soccer and had broad, strong shoulders from throwing hay bales many a day throughout the year. I was proud of my intelligence, and I knew I wasn’t ugly, but I never thought of myself as pretty either, just “not ugly.” However, the outlandish idea that my worth as a valuable person was based on my looks had already entered my head.
I didn’t dwell on my slight paunch and misshapen abdomen from an appendectomy I’d had in the sixth grade. It was there and was fading slowly, very slowly, with time and I had a good story to go with it. I didn’t fret much over my rough hands except in the winter when they chapped. My feet, with their ever-present calluses, could be hidden safely from view, tucked inside socks.
But then I began to model and I couldn’t keep my feet hidden; and my hands, no matter how much lotion, ointment and balm I applied stayed rough outside of tropical climes. My contorted and bulging abdomen was exaggerated in images unless I sucked in my breath and angled myself to the camera just right. I grew accustomed to all these tricks at making myself appear “normal” rather than Normal. I was fine with people viewing me as photographers wanted to make me look. My consolation was that in viewing an image of me, people couldn’t see my cracked, splitting fingers or the coarse skin covering my soles. They couldn’t touch these parts of me, these flaws I’d exaggerated in my head, that I hid as often as I could to prevent others from scrutinizing them.
And then this year I started to get massages. Years of wear and tear on my body had left me hunched many a day fighting muscle pain, and when I discovered a fellow model I worked with was a certified massage therapist I started to make appointments with them. They ground out knots that had been present for over a decade in my shoulders and I was grateful for the relief.
The other night, though, I found myself lying on the massage table, my Jell-O-like state giving way to near panic as I felt my masseur’s hands work down my leg and take my rough, callused foot in his hands and I froze. My mind raced, “Oh no! My feet are so nasty and gross and he’s going to be disgusted and he’s going to drop my feet in horror!” But, he didn’t express disgust and he didn’t drop my foot, the first or the second. In fact, he went on to compliment my muscular legs and after I mentioned playing soccer for over 18 years, he went on to say his “female clients who cycle or play soccer have the most amazing legs.”
Amazing legs? Did my ears deceive me? Did he just lump me into a group of people with “amazing legs”? My legs? The very same ones that bully felt earned me the moniker of “Thunder Thighs”?
It dawned on me that my masseur didn’t devalue me as a client, let alone a person, because I have callused feet, so I relaxed once again. He moved on to other areas and I mused over my personal hang-ups. We all have aspects of our physical appearance that we dislike. I’m not a fan of my feet. I appreciate what they do and I’m glad that I have them; however, I find that there are times where I long for the feet of a foot model.
Then again, perfect “little piggies” probably wouldn’t look right on me. I’m a tad rough around the edges everywhere, why should my feet be an exception? They aren’t pretty, but they aren’t ugly either; they just have a lot of character, just like the rest of me.
The Amusing Muse is a blogger, writer, model and all around Renaissance woman. Images of her have appeared in the TNS 2013 Calendar, N Magazine, ISLANDS Magazine and gallery walls and her writing has graced the electronic and printed page. By day she’s a Social Media Guru and Office Ninja and has been accused of being “too joyful” on more than one occasion. She lives in South Central Wisconsin with her husband and their menagerie of domestic and wild flora and fauna, traveling the globe as often as she can.
You can find her on her blog, Musings of the Amusing Muse
Follow her on Twitter @The_AmusingMuse