Sunday, 25 July 2010

Farewell to Legs

Two summers ago I noticed an odd cluster of bright purple veins at the back of my left knee. It wasn't a bruise. It was the first warning sign of me having inherited my mother's legs and the troubles that come with them. I have had my share of body issues in the past, but the one thing I have always been perfectly happy with have been my legs. They are pretty long and well formed. I will never forget a comment an ex-boyfriend's mother once gave me: "it is strange that you are otherwise so skinny, but that you actually have legs." When I was in my late teens I'd try to disguise my small chest and bony elbows, but I never had any trouble wearing hotpants or miniskirts.

Since that first cluster of purple veins appeared, my legs have started going through a rather rapid transformation. The veins at the back of my knees have become a lot more visible, and similar clusters have started appearing all over my thighs and ankles. To some, they are hardly visible. To me, they are a constant reminder of my future: that things will not get better, they will get way worse.

If I wear a pair of shorts or a shorter skirt to town (and I still do, but for how long, I don't know), I will hold my purse on my lap, hoping that the person next to me on the bus will not see the ugly little veins on my thighs. Every once in a while I catch myself looking at other women's legs and ankles (just like Charlotte), trying to figure out if their legs look better or worse than mine, if they are older or younger than I am. My sister and I compare our clustered veins and make fun of it all. It makes it easier to have someone who shares the same destiny.

It seems now that the first (and for a long time, the only) thing that I was comfortable with in my own body will be the first thing to go. Seeing my legs change, I question my future self-image. I am not scared of aging though. People whose faces and bodies look somehow "lived in" have always seemed very beautiful to me - but of course it is easy to say that now. Despite the first tiny wrinkles around my eyes, I look younger than I am. How self-conscious will I eventually become? Will this body of mine, one day, become something I loathe because it will look ugly to me? Will I have the courage to be brave, or will I hide? Will I see the same beauty in myself as I see in the faces and bodies of others? The optimist in me thinks that I will. I am in no hurry to issue a farewell to my legs.

Blouse: Tuuli's old
Shorts: thrifted, recycling centre
Belt: mom's old
Loafers: thrifted Bally, for 1 euro, recycling centre


Cynthia said...

I have a yucky vein on the side of my left knee (it's knobbly, and sometimes I see it as raised knobbles, other times as a little "valley" in the flesh of my leg, probably depending on blood pressure and hydration). I'm also getting a cluster of spider veins by my right ankle. It's possible that people see them, but then it's possible that other people are just as oblivious to my little aging flaws as I am to theirs. That's what I choose to believe. I don't think most people actually go around noticing the details of what we're wearing or even much of our skin other than our face. They notice faces, overall lines, colors, macroscopic body shape. My sister has some kind of skin problem on her upper arms and will rarely wear short sleeves. On the occasions that she does though, I don't think people even notice what seems like such a terrible blemish to her.

Anonymous said...

Honey I have no idea if it helps or hurts to have me say "You are perfect to me.". But it's true...exactly as you are, exactly as you will be, you are perfect.
AND...I love the title of the post!! :) Smooches, CR

Charlotte said...

Autumn is on the way, Waves, which means that tights season is almost upon us. I look forward to that time. And maybe by NEXT summer, I'll have these newly wobbly upper arms toned up. . .

Modesty is Pretty said...

Oh the veins, I started with them after I had my son, when I was pregnant I didn't get veins and I felt so good about that, but then I saw them! Some popped out a bit! Now I don't wear anything short so no one else can see them but I know they are there and I dn't like them. This year for some reason I've noticed a couple of age lines around the eyes and my skin changing and breaking out a bit here and there, I'm seeing things I did not see before, to tell you the truth I'm not very happy with aging but there's nothing I can do to stop time, I don't know whether I'm going to handle aging gracefully, it's kind of scary and I don't even know exactly why. The same happen with grey hairs, my sister got them at an earlier age, very young age and I didn't and I kind of not took her so serious when she talked and worried about the grey hairs, but then 2 years ago guess who all of the sudden started sprouting lots of grey hair? Me! AT first I used to pull them out but they won the battle and I just gave up on them. I don't want to dye my hair and the only one that makes me feel much better is the younger teacher across the hall who has a full head of grey hair...Yeah it's pathetic.

jesse.anne.o said...

I've got a few tiny spider veins but my mother has varicose veins and spider veins so I think it's only a matter of time...and I've had these same thoughts!

I used to wonder what it'd be like getting older when I was in my teens. And at the time it seemed like a thing to resist - or that you could resist (or, even, that would never happen). But as it happens, it's none of those things. It just is.

Sheila said...

My legs are like yours - I have spider veins all over my legs, and big blue veins run down my thighs (I call them the Nile and the Amazon). I also usually have bruises on my legs (from sports), and I have several scars on my knees. I mostly try to ignore them and hope they don't show up in pictures, but you know what, they are part of me, and I'm okay with that.

And yet, I NEVER see them on other people (except the very old). Obviously, we're blind to each other's leg imperfections, right? :)

Frances Joy said...

I've got spider veins, too! I love summer because my tan helps them blend a bit, but I've kind of decided that I am much too young to let this keep me from wearing skirts and dresses. Yes, I'm a bit self-conscious, but I'm hoping I don't revert to my 12 year old self, hiding her legs because of their imperfections.

Besides, I'm convinced most people don't even notice those details, at least that's what I tell myself.