I hope you can be as happy with your body as I am of mine.

I hate my legs.

I hate my feet. They’re freakishly large, with long, bony toes and topped by short, squat toenails. My feet are flat, too. When I run, I pronate. Badly.

I hate my big thighs and my calves, which can only be described as “meaty.” It’s a byproduct of triathlon and supplementing marathon training with my bike, something I enjoy immensely; but lately, I’ve wished I never sat on a bike, never pedaled, never got into aero position. In addition to making me look like the short/butch/poor/awkward Kardashian sister, they’ve caused more than one crying fit in the dressing room — my thunder thighs just won’t fit in the skinny jeans.

Oh, and my knees! Freakin’ knees. They’re scarred and dimply. Lately, the left one has been copping an attitude every time I run. It’s rude, is what it is. I have rude knees.

When I went onto Facebook the other day, I saw a photograph of a set of lithe, tanned, and defined legs. “Can anyone tell me what triathlete owns these legs?” The caption asked.

Immediately, I knew: Chrissie Wellington. She’s been an inspiration of mine since I ran my first 5K in 2009.  I’ll even go so far as to admitting I have a girl crush on her…and her legs. I want those legs.

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Scrolling down the comments, I saw that many others guessed correctly. Chrissie Wellington’s legs are to triathletes what Pre’s mustache is to runners – a symbol of incredible talent instantly recognizable by many.

Except for one person, a woman named Yvette who remarked:

“I hope it’s not a woman, they are awful legs.”

Puzzled, I gave the photograph another glance. Was I wrong for wanting my legs to look like that? What was Yvette seeing that I wasn’t?

I scrolled back down the comments to see if Yvette was the only one, letting my cursor stop when I saw a comment from a familiar name.

Chrissie Wellington.

Yes, the four-time Ironman World Champion responded to the criticism, not to defend the way they looked, but to share what really mattered:

“Yvette, awful? These legs have powered me to the top of the world, and enabled me to have the most amazing platform to effect change. They are a combination of the two people I love the most: My mother and father. They are the result of hard work, dedication, commitment, and passion. They are MY legs, and I am so proud of them. I hope you can be as happy with your body as I am of mine, despite all of my supposed imperfections.”

I stared at the screen, eyes tearing up, then looked down at my legs.

I stared at my toenails, four of which have fallen off after races. All of them grew back, as if to say “Is that all you got? Give me another challenge!”

I gazed at my freakishly large feet. I honed in on the tattoo on my left foot – a 140.6  inked on after my first Ironman triathlon. My plan for a tattoo on right foot – after I achieve my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon – gives me yet another source of motivation to train every day.

I looked at my knees. If I had never taken up sport, they’d be unblemished. A couple scraped knees seems like a tiny sacrifice for the experiences I’ve had, the places I’ve traveled, and the friends I’ve made through running and triathlon.

I looked at my calves, then my thighs. I followed the contours of the muscles and thought about how, in high school, one of my teachers remarked that my mom and I walk exactly the same way. The tenacity (some might say “stubbornness”) required to keep going when those legs want to shut down? Yup, that came from my mom, too.

They are MY legs, and I am so proud of them.

It doesn’t matter if the critic is in a very public forum, or if it exists only in your head. Know that there is beauty, strength, and amazing potential within every body. Yes – your body.

I hope you can be as happy with your body as I am of mine.


About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke