Every Saturday I read, avidly, Melanie Reid’s column in The Times magazine. Melanie was already an award-winning journalist when, in April 2010, she suffered a dreadful fall from her horse and broke her neck and her back, an accident which left her paralysed and without the use of her limbs. Each week she catalogues her slow and painful recovery, as she comes to terms with what she can and can’t do, and how- inspiringly – she is gaining use again of her legs and other parts of her body.
Reading her column makes me appreciate my legs even more. I love my legs, because not only do they take me to wherever I want to go, but they enable me to do one of the activities that I most enjoy – brisk, fresh, early morning walks. My legs are strong, capable and amazingly responsive. My brain tells them to go faster and they do, powering me on, raising my heart rate, keeping me fit, lifting my mood and clearing my thoughts. A fast, determined walk in the early hours of the day is the perfect way to set me up for a productive and wonderful rest of the day. My legs make this happen and I am proud of them. We should all be proud of our legs.
So it was rather depressing to read an article in the Daily Mail earlier this week entitled ‘The secret of lovely pins‘. This article reported the results of 12 years’ worth of analysis by a plastic surgeon, to work out what makes for the ‘perfect’ leg. What was notable about this article was that it concentrated entirely on the aesthetic – the appearance of the legs – and not one jot on their ability and usefulness. Moreover, the purpose of the study was explicitly in order to find “an ‘ideal aesthetic model’ on which to base surgery in the future”. Not content with reducing legs to their superficial outward aspect, the whole drift of the article encouraged its readers – primarily, I would guess, women – to question whether their legs were good-looking enough, and to think about changing them.
Well, our legs are beautiful as they are, because – quite simply – they are our legs. They transport us, they power us, they enable us to do whatever we want to do. If we lose the use of legs we soon appreciate them all the more, and we can still love them for what they can do for us. They are a part of us.
This is Positive Image month. This is the month when we need to tear up articles that make us question our marvellous and unique bodies. This is the month when we need to love our bodies because they are central to who we are.
I love my legs. Love yours.