Rant of the saggy knees
Since entering this world thirty-seven years ago, I've had a few memorable brushes with accomplishment. At seven I learned how to ride my bike without training wheels. In the sixth grade I won my class spelling bee. In high school I auditioned for all-city orchestra, and got in. I survived divorced parents, premature colicky twins, a husband constantly on the road for work and an unfortunate encounter with poison ivy. I'm pretty tough.
The other day I went out in shorts for the first time in over a year. Somehow this accomplishment feels mightier than all the things I'd accomplished previously. Now, to someone who wears shorts all the time, this might not be such a big deal. But to me, chronic shorts avoider, it is. You see, I hate my knees. Well, that's not entirely accurate. I hate the area above my knees. Sometimes I stand in front of the mirror and put my hands just above that spot, pulling the skin up so it isn't saggy. Just to see how much better it'd be. Things would be so different, I think, if I didn't have saggy knees.
Oddly enough, I don't have a problem wearing skirts. Shirts gently swish over my hips and gracefully conceal the lumps and bumps above my knees. Skirts seem infinitely more forgiving. Shorts are ruthless devices of the devil, gripping the thighs. There's no hiding in a pair of shorts, what with their four-inch inseams and thin cotton twill.
I notice knees a lot. Especially here in Dallas, where it's been shorts-weather for weeks. It's hard not to. Everyone is waltzing around in shorts, as if saggy knees don't mean a damm thing. Somewhat bafflingly, the women in short shorts seem to care the least. I visited a designer's showroom last summer. She is known here in Dallas for creating clothes for the "mature" woman, the type who lives in the suburbs, collects art, plays tennis, and whose kids are off at college. While discussing skirt length, she explained that her designs feature just-below-the-knee length hems, in order to appease "those women whose knees have dropped."
Huh, I thought. My knees have dropped too.
As women, our bodies seem defined by change. As little girls we're freckles and skinned elbows and playing dress-up in our mom's closets. In adolescence, a surge in hormones causes our bodies to take on curves. We shed our baby weight and gangly limbs for breasts and hips, hips that jut out emphatically where hips had not been before. We don't understand what's going on, but it's happening to our friends too. We can't control it. We trade in our training bras for those with adjustable straps and molded cups. Our periods arrive and we become women. Just for fun, we dye our hair colors not found in nature. We graduate from high school and head to college or enter the workforce. Soon we discover that the candy bars we ate thoughtlessly as kids now make a lipidly bee line straight to our thighs. We gain weight. Upper arms, once sleek, become a bit soft. We buy creams and lotions for age spots, wrinkles, cellulite, crow's feet. We color our hair to cover the grey. Then we have children and really don't recognize ourselves anymore at all.
When I looked at my shorts, folded neatly in my drawer, they didn't seem so harmful. They're just shorts, after all. And my life really wouldn't be that different if my knees weren't saggy. Saggy knees are just a part of getting older, like age spots and crow's feet and grey hair. Perhaps, if I didn't have saggy knees, I'd go bare-legged more often. But here's the thing. Whether my knees are smooth and taunt, or drooping and saggy, I'd still be me: an almost middle-aged, stay-at-home mom; a poison ivy survivor, occasional sewer and bike rider. I'd still get older. I'd still have to face the uncontrollable effect of gravity on my body, the loss of elasticity, the march towards menopause. It's going to happen, whether I wear the damm shorts or not.
In the end, I wore my shorts with a striped 3/4 sleeve tee and slip-on sneakers. It wasn't that bad. I didn't experience a euphoric moment of self-acceptance and saggy knee love. I didn't rush out to J Crew and load up on their rainbow-hued chino shorts. But I creep one step closer to understanding that hating the aging process, and it's effect on my knees, is really a waste of time. It doesn't sound like much. But I'll take my victories where I can get them.
Which part of your body are you most afraid to expose? Do you find yourself nit-picking at a particular area? Are their certain articles of clothing you avoid wearing?