“I think you have to develop a style when you’re ill to keep from falling out of love with yourself. It’s important to stay in love with yourself.”
- Anatole Broyard, Intoxicated by My Illness
The problem is I never was a woman who walked around feeling completely in love with myself. I was a woman who had days when my level of self-appreciation was higher than others.
And now I have this medical condition that has changed the way I see myself. I now consider myself somewhat powerless and much less vulnerable. On my bad days, I’m weak, I’m damaged, I’m bruised. On my not-so-bad days, I’m challenged, I’m tough, I’m resilient.
Back in my teaching days, I usually wore slacks and once a week, a skirt, just to mix it up. I thought of my legs as strong and thought that with the right A-line skirt, I looked rather attractive.
Now, though, I don’t see my legs as strong. I see them as betraying me and playing cruel tricks on me. Not strong enough for me to walk my son to and from school. Not strong enough for me to walk around the zoo without contemplating renting a wheelchair. And, my legs are scarred -- with an actual scar from my muscle biopsy and with a multitude of veins that are crisscrossing my legs and thighs at a rate that alarms me.
Rationally, I know that prominent veins on my legs is a superficial preoccupation that doesn’t necessarily translate into my general health and well-being. It is more important that I feel well, rather than my legs looking well.
However, summer days exacerbate the problem. I see women, many older than me, who are out and about in cute skirts with nary a vein on the back of their legs. I never owned many pairs of shorts, but since my leg issues, I own no shorts. I have resorted to a few capris and rolling up old pairs of jeans to almost-mid-calf. But even then, there are days when the thermometer climbs, and I don’t want to be hindered by long fabric.
On days when the thought of long pants seems unbearable, I bravely wear a skirt, sans panty hose. When I taught, panty hose and a slip was a requirement for any outfit that didn’t involve slacks. Today, as I pen these words, I sit in a cafe, bare legs crossed under the table as I wear a knee-length black skirt.
I’m a bit self-conscious, I’m not used to having my legs exposed. But my skirt-wearing is my way of celebrating. These legs of mine, under attack and dealing with daily pain, are still well enough to get me in and out of the car today, and walk me into the cafe.
It’s oh-so-easy, to let the pain on bad days overtake everything else -- my mood, my self-confidence, my self-esteem. I certainly don’t always feel in love with myself, but wearing a skirt is a way of showing my legs some much-needed love.