I used to feel quite mixed about my giant cycling legs. I asked my coach at one point to design weight lifting workouts that would help me get stronger without making my legs bigger.
I’ve come to really love my cycling legs, and see them as a symbol of my hard work and physical fitness. But there are a lot of cultural factors, some of which are hinted at in this cartoon, that make that difficult. I’ve had this conversation with at least two of my close friends, one of whom is F to M trans* and the other of whom is a cis lady who does Olympic-style power lifting.
Society feels really mixed about muscular women. They’re seen as inherently masculine, somehow. And big still somehow equals fat, even if that’s patently not the case. Oh yeah and shopping for pants is a pain in the ass if you have big legs. That definitely doesn’t help. It’s fun to joke about Kierin-cut jeans, but I’m still annoyed that J. Crew doesn’t carry those ochre yellow matchstick jeans in a size above a 31. Every year I try them on and every year I’m pissed about it. Mostly the fashion industry doesn’t know what to do with us either.
I don’t want to end with some kind of platitude about how you can be beautiful at every size, because as Chelsea Fagan pointed out recently, “the fact that children (especially young girls) are told almost relentlessly that a huge part of their value and personhood lies in their appearance” and prioritizes beauty in women above all other qualities. But I do think it’s good to work towards a level of comfort and acceptance with the body you have as best as you can. If only to be able to live more at peace in your own skin.
And, dudes, it’s generally a good idea to keep your opinions about a woman’s body to yourself. They don’t fucking care if you like it.