Leave it to an incorporeal computer to give me a reality check about my body. Somewhere Isaac Asimov is smiling. But just as the Internet giveth, so does the Internet taketh away… and now I’m just confused.
Every woman has a body part that she just doesn’t like much. (Strike that – while most women do, I imagine there are some who love every inch of themselves and more power to them!) Oh sure we’ll gripe about there-ain’t-no-love-in-these handles (so says TurboJennie) or our Oprah-waves-goodbye upper arms (so says Oprah) but there is usually one extra special body part that we focus most of our attentions on. For me, that part is my thighs.
I’ve had a love-hate (but mostly hate) relationship with those womanly fatty bits pretty much ever since I came to associate “womanly” with “fatty bits” – so you know, like 5 years old. My “athletic” thighs are the reason I go through denim hell trying to find jeans that fit. Every single pair I own is too big in the waist and too tight on the thighs. Why oh why have shoulder pads, leggings, dingy flannels and for the love of unholy fashion banana clips come back into style but not my precious 90’s sk8r grrrl wide-legged jeans? Clearly the pants aren’t the problem, it’s got to be my legs! (Now be a good little consumer and write that 100 times on the chalkboard before you leave adolescence.)
All I wanted were legs that didn’t touch anywhere between ankle and pelvis; is that too much to ask for? Yes, yes it is. Even at my skinniest-skinny (to quote the adorable Ginnifer Goodwin who also shares my thigh woes
) my thighs were still best friends. And, as any reputable personal trainer will tell you, there is no such thing as spot reduction. Or – say it with me! – “everyone who chews gum would have the skinniest face ever!” Thank you endless stream of P.E. teachers and personal trainers for that witticism. Basically Suzanne Sommers was selling you snakeoil in the form of a spring-loaded contraption you pumped between your legs that was just this side of socially acceptable.
But conventional wisdom is wrong on this one, says Tim Ferriss, author of the hugely controversial and popular book The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman
. (You have an hour to kill? Go read the reviews on that sucker – your head will spin faster than Christina Aguilera in a shoe store.) For those of you uninitiated into the Ferriss-verse, he is known for being a human lab rat and trying out every body hack imaginable. Similar to yours truly in concept only – that man tries stuff so far on the other side of extreme that I wouldn’t do even if you paid me in Lululemon outfits. I can’t comment on the whole book – haven’t read it yet although I plan on doing so – but he put up a “bonus” chapter on his blog about, oh yes, spot reducing the upper thighs on women
. According to him it is possible. And for the low low price of $39.99.
Apparently I am not alone in my dilemma. Ferriss, to his credit, really does his homework and the whole science-y explanation is on his site. Here’s the short version: he tried two creams containing compounds that theoretically had the chemical properties to alter fat storage under the skin. The prescription cream failed. But the other cream – a super gimmicky sounding CelluThin
– actually did work. It reduced his body fat measurement on his treated thigh by 1 mm. I know 1 mm doesn’t sound like much but he isn’t measuring the circumference of his thigh with a tape measure but rather measuring his fat thickness and 1 mm is a big deal there. I almost bought the CelluThin on the spot.
But then something else caught my eye (ooh, shiny!) – a designer clothing site having a super clearance sale. (I know, I know we talked about this
but I was just looking I SWEAR. I did not buy a thing. Just drooled on my keyboard.) This site, weirdly, was called MyShape
. I say “weirdly” because fashion is never about my
shape. Fashion could care less what shape I actually am. It’s all about making me fit into their
shape. But this site is based off the idea that women should by clothing according to their actual body shape. Forget “apples” and “pears” – this site offers 7 different types to choose from
Being the Cosmo-esque quiz lover I am, I read through all the body types and picked the one I thought I was but when I tried to go further into the store, it stopped me. They wanted measurements. And not just your bust-waist-hip that we’ve all got memorized but about 20 different measurements including everything from the breadth of your shoulders (another problem spot for me, holla for the pull-ups!) to the height of your knee above the floor. Curiouser than Alice in CotureLand, I pulled out my trusty tape measure and went to work.
15 minutes and a ton of numbers entered later, I closed my eyes and clicked submit. (Not really. Not even I’m good enough to web surf blind.) It gave me an “S” shape. (Another bonus: their shapes are just named by letter with no judgement word attached to it like “athletic” or “curvy” or “boyish.”) Turns out an S shape is “evenly proportioned.” Excuse me? My thighs aren’t transplants from Godzilla?
As kooky as it sounds it made me realize that maybe I don’t want skinnier thighs. What if I got my dream of an inch off each thigh – would my shoulders look freakishly large then? Would my hips look weird? What if the problem isn’t my body not fitting the clothes, like I’d assumed for so many years, but rather the clothes not fitting my body? I’m just going to come out and say it – for the first time I can remember – I like myself the way I am, thighs touching and everything. You can keep your cream.
Have any of you ever tried a spot-reduction technique or cream? Did it work for you? Do you remember a moment where you learned to like yourself? What sparked the change in you? Or are you still looking for it? Opinions on Tim Ferriss or The 4-Hour Body??
Written with love by Charlotte Hilton Andersen for The Great Fitness Experiment (c) 2011. If you enjoyed this, please check out my new book for more of my crazy antics and uncomfortable over-shares!