Growing up, I remember having stockier legs than the other girls – everyone seemed to have thin legs, and I was so envious of that. When I asked my mom why my legs didn’t look like the other girls, she just stated matter of fact, “You have the Ramos* legs – I have them, grandma has them, and your aunts have them.” She said this not really shamefully, nor wistfully even, but with a connotation that it’s just something I had to deal with.
So throughout my teen and college years, I struggled with the fact that I had the Ramos legs, and that they were just something I had to live with. I remember feeling awkward how everyone had room in the thighs when wearing shorts, while mine were more snug. I remember constantly wearing black tights to make them appear slimmer, despite the silhouette just making them shapelier. And I remember sneaking to borrow my mom’s Thigh Master, in hopes that constantly doing them will give me legs like Suzanne Somers. Countless things to try and slim them down, because I just didn’t accept them, and deep inside, didn’t accept me.
Then, I found running, and after awhile, I noticed something going on with my legs. As I started testing my boundaries and capabilities of what I can accomplish through them, I noticed they weren’t really getting any slimmer, but they were getting more muscular and more defined. Beyond these physical changes, I noticed that my perspective on them changed – not automatically, but over time. That my legs are what they are, and they’re not stocky – they’re muscular, strong, and resilient. They can handle enough endurance to complete marathons and half-marathons, and all the training miles associated with it. They’ve taken me on countless hikes, the Trans-Catalina Trail, and the summit of Mt. Whitney. And they’ve helped me bike the California coastline, and constantly forgive me despite giving them battle scars from the countless times I’ve toppled over my mountain bike.
They’re strong and have endured so much, and, over time it started to gel that I view them this way because I am strong and have endured, not only with my physical activities but also from some life challenges. And, I’ve realized, that these Ramos legs are the best things I could have inherited from my mom’s side of the family. All these amazing women who have endured and gone through so much – raising children, divorces, financial hardships – yet still push forth. And we all carry this family heirloom that not only have a strong presence in the physical sense, but is symbolic of our inner strength and endurance for life’s constant challenges. Because of this, I am no longer dealing or accepting the fact that I have Ramos legs – but I’m proud of it.
So if I’m lucky enough to have a daughter someday, and she also carries the Ramos legs and wonders why her legs are shaped the way they are, I’m just going to respond, “Because you have the Ramos legs – Congratulations! It means you’re strong, resilient, and capable of whatever lies ahead of you.”
*Ramos used to depict my mom’s maiden name, though it’s not really so.