Cross-posted at Juvenile Instructor.
I never knew I had fat calves until I tried on a pair of skinny jeans. I tugged on the jeans – trying to get them over the bulges of my legs. When I finally did, it was to no avail. Pants that were big enough to fit over my calves were way too big in the waist. I had never realized that I had fat calves before – it had never been an issue because the skirts and jeans that I had worn had never fit them closely or required them to be a certain size. I soon discovered that the boots also in fashion were equally difficult to fit to my body. Since then, I have been slightly uncomfortable with my fat calves and chubby knees. Unfortunately, these areas of the body have proven to be especially unyielding to exercise.
In her book The Body Project, Joan Jacobs Brumberg argues that experiences like mine are not abnormal. Women’s understandings of their bodies are influenced by pop culture, trends in fashion, and the cosmetics industry. In the mid-twentieth century, fashion trends that required girls to bare their mid-riffs led girls to be more concerned about the firmness of their stomachs and bodies. A corset can’t hold your stomach in when you were required to bare flesh. Brumberg’s project is to explore how the ideas that girls have had about their bodies have changed from the late nineteenth century to the present. Continue reading