I was riding home, sitting in the middle seat of the car between my sister and brother. The car permeated the smell of kids’ sweat and amalgamated with french fries and frosties. My dad was driving. The colors through my window used into a concoction of greens, blues, and browns. I was the oldest, the tallest, the biggest. I was six when I noticed how big my thighs were, like swelling whales on a pacific beach. The pale skin stretched out beneath me.
I hated them.
When I was eight those legs propelled me in beating my scrawny brother’s in a sprinting match. I was the fastest girl on Oak Harbor Court. All the kids wanted to take me in a race, yet none ever went home triumphant.
But my thighs were still too big.
When I was 11, I wanted to fit in the jeans of my friends. I wanted their short bodies and small legs. I felt awkward and large towering above them all, including the boys of our grade. I felt the worst because of my thighs.
When I was 13, I stopped eating. Everything became smaller, and I liked it that way. But no one told me I had nice legs after that. I became friends with IV’s and nurses’ instructions and the smell of hospital rooms, a cotton ball in mouth sterility that just didn’t seem to go away. After the week in the hospital, when I was getting better, I went to a playground with my sister. She had nice thighs. Muscular and strong I followed her jump from the monkey-bars to the sand, but did not mimic her landing. Weak and untested, my legs gave out from under me due to the sudden support they had to bear.
I missed my thighs.
I was pulling sale racks into our store as the August sun still showed strong above our heads at 7 o’clock, and a man appeared at our door. He wouldn’t listen when I told him we were closed probably because the differences in our native tongue provided too tough a barrier to knock down. But that didn’t prevent me from noticing his eyes trickling down my body and resting on my legs. That didn’t prevent me from understanding him saying “Yo’ legs, they nice”. That didn’t prevent me from feeling uncomfortable as he followed me back into the store.
I hate my thighs.