The Curse of the Viele Thighs

by anna on August 14, 2009

Climb all the stairs you want, sweetheart. Those thighs aren't going anywhere.

Climb all the stairs you want, sweetheart. Those thighs aren't going anywhere.

Have I ever mentioned that I have enormous thighs? Oh yes! I have had big thighs my entire life–thighs so big, in fact, as to be a noteworthy topic of conversation. Like if you were to see me–particularly prior to 2003–you might marvel (silently, to avoid making me feel bad) at the unusual shape of my thighs, and at their discongruity with the rest of my body. Now, I am not a small girl, by any means, but still my thighs are out of proportion to the rest of my body, and have always commanded–insisted upon–notice. The Viele thighs are, and have always been–a force with which one (me) must reckon, whether I like it or not: the way they curve outwards at the start of my hip, instead of dropping straight down, the way they serve as a kind of extreme insulation for my femur bone, making nearly every brand of jeans impossible to wear without buying it three sizes bigger than the rest of me, requiring embarrassing tailor fittings and more punitive, self-inflicted starvation diets than I can even count.

And I think I can remember, verbatim, every single insult or slight I’ve ever heard–real or imagined, intentional or otherwise–about my thighs and legs, dating back to my latency period childhood. I remember one afternoon in particular, when my grandmother and one of my cousins took note of my “thunder thighs” at an all-day track meet, saying, “Anna’s got thunder thighs that can run like the wind!” and other annoying crap while we sat, eating the barely edible brand of natural peanut butter that was available circa 1979 and waiting for the 100-yard-dash I still had to run later in the afternoon. And I’m not sure that they even meant the “thunder thighs” as a direct insult per se, it was probably more of a cute childhood teasing, I think, but it didn’t matter, because even at age 6 I knew that “different” was bad, and I didn’t want to be different, even if it was only because of my thighs.

The thing is, big thighs even don’t make you faster–oh, would that they did!–they make you slower, and heavier. Thunder would have to denote the sound you made whilst running around the track, then: and I was a disaster at track. I couldn’t wait to quit. I had a natural athletic ability and strength, but there was nothing fast or sleek about me, and so the Viele thighs had always been more of a hindrance than a help in even my sporting endeavors. In high school, I remember having an argument about religion with someone on my basketball team who was a true believer. In retrospect, I realize I was being pretty rude and snotty about it, as usual. She told me that there was a bikini modeling contest and she thought I should enter the leg competition. I winced, but thought to myself that this was rich coming from a girl with big legs herself. And so you can see how the abuse cycle perpetuates itself. But I went on another diet that night.

In 2003, I underwent a rather painful surgical experience designed to “fix” my thighs. It only partially worked. My thighs are smaller now, and they look much better, but because muscle tissue is what provides the foundation of these cursèd Viele thighs, there’s only so much you can do. I will never have great legs. I will never have, for example, my sister-in-law’s legs. I should just accept that these thighs are part of me, so much a part that it would be impossible to change them, but I’ve tried before and I will try again. Heck, I try again every day, pretty much.

I won’t lie to you: the thought of passing these thighs on to my offspring did trouble me immensely before I got pregnant with Mini. Oh sure, I had already accepted the fact that my biological children might inherit alcoholism, major clinical depression, or excessive criticism from me as well, but what I really worried about was them getting stuck with the Viele thighs. Because at least you can fix the rest of that shit. You can find a way to live with all of the rest of them, however rocky the path might be to recovery. But you are pretty much stuck with the thighs, though, and there ain’t no 12-step program for that shit.

When we found out that we were having a boy, I was excited for many reasons, not the least of which was that the presence of Viele thighs on a male is a much lesser offense–fair or unfair–and if he got stuck with them, then at least they were more likely to do some good along with the aesthetic harm they caused. The fact is, Viele thighs are strong: when you have to do defensive slides in basketball practice, you are good to go with Viele thighs. And you will probably be able to do wall stands longer than everyone else. And if by some miracle of fate you make it to a height over six feet tall, like my brother did, the Viele thighs will serve you well under the basket and when you have to box people out for rebounds. They would probably be useful in football, as well, though I cannot confirm this based upon personal experience. I do know that I was an All-Star fullback in soccer due almost entirely to my Viele thighs, though this is a dubious honor since playing fullback–even center fullback–is fucking boring. I digress.

Anyway, on Mini’s ultrasound I remember jumping for joy because the legs that I saw were not Viele thighs! We had passed that milestone! Huzzah for us! Mini could live a life without horror in dressing rooms! Thank you, gods of genetics, for not passing this on!

What I didn’t know was that the Viele thighs do not show up right away. The Viele thighs are like contracting an awful virus, and then taking anti-viral cocktails, and hoping that what you have is a defunct strain that never turns into the full-blown disease. And then one day you wake up and you start sporting lesions, except the lesions aren’t lesions, they’re just enormous thighs, the likes of which you’ve never seen!

You think you know by looking at your child’s legs, and recognizing the muscular calves that he inherited from his father–you think you know that he’s managed to avoid the curse of the Viele thighs. And time passes–it passes quickly, because you’re giddy with the devil-may-care attitude that comes from not having to worry about your child’s thighs becoming freaks of nature. You think, “Well, thank God, at least he’s escaped them.” But what you don’t realize is that the Viele thighs take a while to sprout. They aren’t the kind of thing you can grow overnight. No, it takes over two years post-partum to really appreciate the development of the Viele thighs.

And now, Mini–gorgeous, perfect Mini–the apple of my eye, the darling of my heart–Mini is developing Viele thighs. Oh the humanity! God, why must you create such perfection, only to strike it down with such devilish monstrosities!

They take a while to show up. About two years.

They take a while to show up. About two years.

Hey. Wait a second.

Sure, they're cute on him, but on me they're a natural disaster.

Sure, they're cute on him, but on me they're a natural disaster.

How come the Viele thighs look so cute on him?

{ 9 comments }

Chris August 14, 2009 at 7:32 am

Mini’s thighs are bubblicious! He’ll be a great cyclist someday. I know you’re not fishing for compliments with this post, but the photos I’ve seen of you, including the one above, are SO pretty. Your legs look strong and whatever procedure you had in 2003 makes you look proportioned to me [again, looking at the photo above].

I was also teased about my nose as a kid. I don’t think my family’s intention was to hurt me, [like your "thunder-thighs"], but it’s tormented me my entire life. I had my first nasal surgery last year and will likely have my second in a couple of months. Then? I quit.

Nanna August 14, 2009 at 7:50 am

My lovely girl, when I saw that picture on the top the only thing I thought was, Awwwwww. How sweet. And that little darling boy? AWESOME thighs. He will thank you one day, Mama!

beth aka confusedhomemaker August 14, 2009 at 7:51 am

I want to be able to let go of the self consciousness that I have about my body. Growing up I remember being told repeatedly I had “child bearing” hips along with lots of other not so cute phrases about parts of my body. I assume Mamacita will end up with similar phrases thrown at her & it breaks my heart because right now she is young & loves her body. The boys I worry about too, but about different things being tossed at them because they are “quirky”. Damn society & damn genetics.

Alexis August 14, 2009 at 8:57 am

First, I could just eat those thighs on Mini, baby legs are my favorite treat. For what is it worth, I have passed on my dreaded trait to my daughter. We Turner gals have fat knees. Yup, two wonderful chunks of fat that sit right on the inside of one’s knee, no matter how thin you are. My daughter was BORN with them. The rest of her was newborn skinny, but there they were, two big blobs of knee fat. I almost cried, over knee fat, yup. My only hope is that she will not have a complex about them the way I did/do. Now, I must research knee fat removal surgery since whatever you had done seems to have made you legs look just right on your body….maybe there is hope for me too.

lloyddabbler August 14, 2009 at 10:31 am

In one statement, I hope to put this in perspective for you and quiet the demons. Ready? Be glad that you can go for a walk with your son.

anna August 14, 2009 at 11:04 am

@Chris, thanks again. My procedure (liposuction) did help a lot. to give perspective, they took 10 pounds of fat from my thighs. That is approximately two two-liter bottles of diet coke worth of fat, to give you a frame of reference for how big they were before!

@Nanna, thanks and yes, I hope you are right. I was hesitant to write about my legs because I don’t want to make Mini feel bad about his own legs. When he is old enough to read, it’s possible I’ll take this post down just out of precaution even though, as you can see, his legs are very cute and not hideous like mine.

@beth, that’s really what my point was in writing this post, to discuss this not because I think it’s the most serious issue in the world (of course it’s not!) but because it’s something that weighs on me (literally and figuratively) every day of my life. And sure, there are bigger tragedies, but isn’t discussing stuff like this what blogs are for?

@Alexis, yes, liposuction is what I had. I have fat knees, too, if it makes you feel better.

@lloyddabbler, I agree with you that there are far bigger tragedies in the world than my thighs, and that I am so fortunate in so many ways. Every day when I see my son I know this, I assure you! But if we only talked about how fortunate we are, don’t you think people would get annoyed and/or bored? :)

Becca August 14, 2009 at 11:28 am

Have you SEEN Lance Armstrong’s legs? And he dated Sheryl Crow! Mini’s got a bright future ahead of him.

anna August 14, 2009 at 11:30 am

@Becca LOL! If Mini turns out to have as much athletic talent and determination as Lance Armstrong, I don’t think even the Viele thighs could keep him down.

Amber Warren August 17, 2009 at 8:10 pm

I love this post. Posts like this remind me that everyone is real and perfect in their imperfections. You write so well and this post was so candid I like you even more now for your thighs. And mini is adorable.

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