I was getting dressed the other day, when my 7-year-old suddenly had a look of horror on her face, staring at the back of my legs. Being the hypochondriac that I am, I screeched, “What! What is it?”
“There are bumps all over your legs,” she said. “Are you okay? Do you need to go to the hospital?”
“Oh that,” I laughed. “That’s called cellulite.”
And then I added, “Don’t worry; it’s hereditary.”
She didn’t get the joke.
I knew this was one of those body image teaching moments. But I was too busy checking myself out in the harsh bathroom lighting and wondering if I really did need to call an ambulance.
“What is it and why do you have it?”
“It’s good for you. It’s stored up energy in case you ever need it.”
“It’s energy?” She looked skeptical.
“Well, it’s, um, air bubbles under the skin.”
“You know what, I don’t really know what it is. Let’s not worry about it.”
But she was worrying about it, and now she had me worrying about it. I suddenly felt the urgency to fix something I never cared about fixing before.
“Can you make it go away?”
“I guess, if I went to the gym.”
“Why don’t you go to the gym?”
“We have a gym in our building, and you have gym clothes. You can go when I’m at school.”
“BA-BAM,” as she would say — I just got my cellulite-ridden ass handed to me on a treadmill.
I think about the lame reasons why I don’t go to gym.
My NutriBullet is in storage, exercising flares up my rosacea, I need to lose ten pounds to fit into my trendy stirrup leggings and backless workout tops, I don’t have a BPA-free monogrammed water bottle, I didn’t shave my legs, I need to buy sneakers with bunion support, I don’t have an iTunes playlist, I need to walk the dog, I need to go to Target, and there’s the laundry, there’s always so much laundry.
I consider confessing that I’m not sure the gym would fix my cellulite. But then I remember her saying, “I have the biggest legs in my class, even bigger than the boys.”
This is scary, dangerous, and heartbreaking territory.
She is thinking about other people’s legs. I never thought about other people’s legs. She is thinking about her own legs. I rarely thought about my own — hence, the emergency situation growing on the back of them.
I tell her it’s okay. That I’m okay and she’s okay and everybody is perfect the way they are. Nobody is dying from cellulite.
And I put out gym clothes for the morning.
Related post: 13 Ways Working Out is Different After Having Kids
This article was originally published on