My 5 year old niece plopped herself beside me and pointed to the pea-sized bruise darkening on her little peach-fuzzed knee. She frowned.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, looking between her and the offending knee innocently.
She pointed at the little bruise again.
“Auntie Anna I fell.” She looked up at me and frowned again more dramatically.
“Oh no…How did you fall?” I asked, raising my eyebrows.
Her frown vanished as her eyes widened with excitement.
“There was a goose!” she exclaimed, and began to explain in the halting and meandering way that 5-year-olds sometimes do how she had gone to a park…or conservation area… or the zoo? and there were animals…and a pond…and fish… and she had tripped running away from…a goose? She was so animated by the end of the story it was hard to tell.
I whistled, “Phew! It sounds like you had an adventure!”
Her tiny body bobbed up and down as she nodded in agreement.
“Sometimes when we go on adventures we get scraps and bruises,” I continued as I pushed the bottom of my pant leg up. A fresh purple bruise was blossoming on my calf.
“If I had stayed at home, I wouldn’t have this bruise, BUT I also wouldn’t have had an adventure.”
She eyed the bruise on my calf curiously, then stuck out her finger and poked it. Her gaze shifted to the rest of my exposed leg and she pointed to the large scar on my shin, the little bruises that surrounded it and the fresh blackfly bite welts.
She looked at me with wide eyes.
“You must go on a lot of adventures Auntie Anna!”
I had completely forgotten about the conversation until later that night when I was getting ready for a girls night out: I was hesitating over the decision to wear a cute little black dress. It was laid out on the bed: black and tight and…short.
My beaten up legs would definitely be on full display.
I contemplated my legs in the mirror:
Maybe flesh coloured pantyhose would cover up the scars?
Foundation on the bruises so they don’t show as much?
Hm…maybe I could wear tights underneath the dress…or jeans…would that look weird?
Sigh. Maybe I should just wear the jeans and skip the dress tonight…?
Geez, look at these UGLY legs.
The thought caught.
I considered them in the mirror.
Were my legs ugly?
They were scratched, yes, and bruised, and scarred. But did this make them less attractive?
I traced the line of the scar on the inside of my left calf—a reminder of what side of the bike to get off of when learning to ride a motorcycle in Thailand…
Every mark had a story–was an adventure. Just like the little bruise on my niece’s knee.
And she was right, my legs had been on many adventures:
They had hiked through woods and got bitten by bugs, they had climbed rocks and got bruised and scarred, they had rode mountain bikes and got dirty and scratched.
They were legs to be proud of, not ashamed or embarrassed.
They were short-little-black-dress legs.
So, to all you ladies out there with scraped knees, scarred ankles and bruised shins…
to all the women with burned shoulders, scabbed elbows, calloused hands and warped feet:
Your bruises are beautiful.
And your scars are sexy.
Show them off, share your stories and continue on your adventures, whatever they may be…
My legs: sans pantyhose, foundation or tights