April 7, 2013

Portrait of my body.

You know those girls who are skinnier than you, and you're like how are you that skinny, and they, in your mind, taunt you, saying, I don't know, but it just happened this way, and in case you haven't noticed, it's giving me a hold on that boy you've liked since forever? Well, if I were to write the story of my life, I have thought, extensively, about how this excerpt would fall somewhere in the preface. Right after a passage that goes into detail about my Beanie Baby collection and how, of course it will support me in early retirement.

This persuasive essay is not being written to introduce you to my COMPLETELY REALISTIC retirement plans, but rather, it is an essay that goes through a series of clichés about being a woman and the way that, sometimes, our strengths are irrelevant.

Let's begin.

I have chicken legs. I do. I have chicken legs.
This was first brought to my attention when my brother, Ben, came in from soccer practice one night. I was sitting at the kitchen table doing whatever it is that seven-year-old girls do around the time rec-center soccer practice gets out, and Ben came to sit beside me. Shortney, because that's what they all called me growing up. A neighbor boy who lived near us in Virginia made up that name and it stuck, even though now, I am at a completely average sort of standing, claiming 5'7 for the rest of my life, I have chicken legs, he said. I didn't understand the phrase at the time, but I looked down and examined the very legs he spoke of. They were stick-straight and whiter than any I'd seen before, smaller in diameter than they should've been, and lacking calf muscle. We are close, Ben and I, so I like to imagine that I consoled him in this unfortunate discovery of self-identity, but more than likely, I went back to doing a dot-to-dot in a hand-me-down coloring book or finished a bowl of alphabet soup; It cannot be determined which scenario is true. I do, however, remember investigating my own legs later that night. I looked at them with critical eyes, feeling around for bruises or scars. There were plenty of those because I grew up with four bro--never mind. No matter how many times I try, I will never get away with using that excuse. If I was even remotely beat upon by one of my brothers, The Colonel came to my rescue with a lecture on how "we don't hit our little sister."I grew up reasonably unscathed by the hands of my brothers, but I did have bruises. Probably from bumping into things because I still do that almost every day. But, back to my chicken legs. I determined, as a seven year old, that I had them, and I had them bad. I have never been good at legs. For a good majority of my life, I wore department store jeans that were always two sizes too big. My friend, Haley, pointed this out in high school, so, like everyone else, I started wearing pants that were too tight to squeeze into comfortably. This ritual is still in practice today. Even just last weekend, my cousin asked to borrow a pair of my pants, but didn't fit into them because Oh, I forgot that you don't have calf muscles or thigh muscles. Or calves or thighs at all... and on and on and on and on. But I can fit into them because I lack both an ample supply of discipline to tone as well as a fleshy backside, the part of a person's body that allows for sitting and dropping it like it's hot, which leads me to my next point:

I wish I had a butt.
That's vain and maybe embarrassing to admit, but it's true. No one ever likes me for my butt. Hopefully that says something about my intellect or my wit, but I have a feeling it mostly just speaks volumes on the way my butt is nothing to write home about. Not that anyone is writing anything to anyone about any part of me, but if they were, I'm not even sure my butt would get an honorable mention. I had a roommate my freshman year (Hey, Brooke!) who had a small little thing for a butt. We had this discussion once, and she told me about how her boyfriend said he liked the way there wasn't an abnormally large amount of junk in her trunk (excuse the ghetto and the cliché). I thought it was sort of weird that he would tell her something like that, but then, I was jealous that she was getting positive feedback for her lack of a backside, and I wasn't even getting insults about mine. I didn't have a boyfriend at the time (I don't know why that was relevant--I don't have a boyfriend now, either) but if I had had one, I would want him to appreciate my dumb features. Like the way I don't have a butt.
I take that back. This whole part really has nothing to do with anyone else, and everything to do with the way that, for selfish reasons, I wish I had a butt.

Back to girls who are skinnier than me, though. I'm not going to sit here and tell you about how I've had a really hard time with self-esteem all my life because I haven't. And before you get your britches all twisted (is that the phrase?) and go all pitchforks and "kill the beast" on me, it's not like I'm super into myself, but I do have good hair. It grows fast and, even in humidity, dries straight. It hasn't been cut since last June when I bobbed it into an A-Line, which made it impossible to throw up into a simple top not, and I'm sorry to tell you, it was right before a trip to Mexico where the weather was 80+ degrees and eleven times that in humidity. My hair was straight, but hot... where was I going with that? Oh, yeah. I haven't cut it since June. I haven't cut it since June, and when I went to get it color-corrected from the awful bleach-blonde, reverse-ombre nightmare that it was last week, I asked Kamber (my colorist--I have a colorist now) if I needed a cut. She examined my ends, and after only thirty seconds, commented on how very few of them were split. I have good hair. And I don't say that in a bragging way, I say it in a boys-don't-necessarily-date-girls-for-their-hair-and-if-they-do-why-are-you-compelled-to-date-them-in-the-first-place sort of way. The point is, I always lose boys to girls who are skinnier than me, but I have good hair.

Every boy I have ever kissed has told me that I have good lips. One guy even labeled them intoxicating. I have not yet decided how I feel about any of these statements, because, for the most part, after boys kiss me, they run. They all send mixed messages which is a statement I could write a dramatic trilogy on. But really, the kiss-and-run thing tells me they're either lying to my face, or I'm a fantastic make out buddy, but nothing more. The summer before my senior year of high school, my ex-boyfriend cheated on his girlfriend with me (not my proudest moment). The last time I can ever remember kissing him, we stood outside my car, and he told me that he missed my lips, that kissing her wasn't the same as kissing me. And then, the next day, I saw them together at senior registration. I ran out, drove to subway, and cried in the bathroom until my mom called, asking what was taking so long. This is a different story, altogether, but the point is that for a month straight, I was The Other Woman, and I'm confident that it had very little to do with my intellect. So, I have concluded: I have good lips. But does it matter? Because she was (and probably still is) skinnier than I am. Please refer back to the beginning, where I give you insights into the story of my life. And take a wild guess at who got the boy.

I have strengths. I have them in my lips and in my hair, and on occasion, adorably quirky things come out of my mouth, but, and this is a mystery to me, when I see the girls my boys end up with, I only remember my chicken legs and the absence of a worth-something butt. And I dwell on them because it's easier than searching for a man who'll forget about the way he's supposed to feel about a girl's body parts, but will instead play stupid road trip games on a five minute car ride to the grocery store, one who understands that when you get too into the game, you're poking fun at a mutual friend who gets uncomfortably competitive at social events, and he laughs and calls you "pretty girl" instead of your name or any of those other words that mean the same thing. He'll do all that because he gets it, and he gets you. It's a lot easier to say, she's skinnier than I am, and that's the reason we're not together when the aching reality is that you're not together because he has more fun on car rides with her.

This is the part where I'm standing in my kitchen, eating cold pizza at four o'clock in the morning, not very fond of even my strengths.


  1. when my husband first saw me, he didn't notice my butt or my legs- he noticed my hands. and previously boys mostly just noticed my butt or my legs, so i think that meant something.

  2. My husband noticed my hair. Which was fake. I had extensions. So now he just has to love me despite the fact my hair is short and incredibly thin. Haha to him.

  3. I don't even know what physical attribute Alex noticed most about me... But he always tells me I'm beautiful, every day. So I forget what I like most and least about me, and I kind of like that.


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