I recently started playing tennis after fourteen years. While I like to think I play like this person,
photo: Sports Illustrated 2008 Wimbledon.
In fact, I'm terrible. Even when my coach (aka Il Maestro) gives me clear changes to win points, I can't score. I completely fall apart during a match. That said, yesterday he told me I have improved since we started. The drills are working.
I love tennis, but I did not love the tennis skorts. I was seriously considering wearing track pants on the bus/metro then changing at the courts. I didn't want people to see my legs.
I never wear skirts above a certain length as my thighs are very muscular. At this age I doubt I would wear a mini-skirt anyway, but even in my 20's I didn't.
I hated having "thick" legs. I don't have cankles, but still. Finding jeans were a pain.
I wondered why I didn't have my mom's long lean legs. She 5'10, I'm 5'2. My dad is tall as well, but all the women in his family (who were tall except for one cousin who was 4'11) had athletic builds. In L.A. I tried all these different exercises, like pilates, to make my quads leaner. I would keep the resistance low during spinning classes.
In high school, one day after soccer practice, I was in the kitchen getting something out of the fridge. My mom, with her typical Caribbean bluntness, looked over and said, "Wow, you really have the Gibbs legs." THANKS MOM!
A funny thing happened as I got older. Because of the muscle tone, I look younger. When I was on the court, another player made a comment to my coach about me being a young player. I told him my age and he said, "Complimenti!!" He thought I was at least fifteen years younger. One friend in L.A. wanted to know how it was possible my butt was getting firmer as I aged. She asked me this question loudly in public.
I have friends who are dealing with some serious health issues, like cancer. How stupid am I to waste time complaining about my thick legs? So f-ing what if they have muscles? I'm healthy and those muscles help me move. I'd rather be fit than flabby. Just because someone is skinny, it doesn't mean they're healthy.
Living in Italy has a lot to do with my better attitude. In L.A. I felt like freaking Snuffleupagas, "Hiiiii, Big Bird," among all the size 0s. Yes, people here are slim too, yet it's not the same thing. The approach to food is completely different. Food is not an enemy here.
I got over my tennis skort fears (man, they are REALLY short). I wouldn't say I'm comfortable with my body all the time. During those moments I remember this kick ass NIKE commercial, throw on my tennis gear, and do my thing.