As I've mentioned before, even though I was in perfect shape throughout my childhood and well into my twenties, I was never a small girl, and when I was young, I got the "thunder thighs" comment on more than one occasion. Back then, a comment like that could send me into a downward spiral of insecurity and self-doubt. Of course, I've since learned to love my womanly thighs, but it took a long time to get there.
Fortunately, new research has revealed that big thighs are actually good for you. In fact, an article in the British Medical Journal announced that people "with thighs over 60cm (23.6 inches) in circumference have a lower risk of heart disease and early death" and "those with the smallest thighs—below 55cmm [about 22 inches]—had twice the risk of early death or serious health problems."*
Apparently, the issue is a lack of muscle. Those of us with strong legs can count on our muscles to keep us healthy; whereas, those with "too little muscle mass" can have a problem with "the body not responding to insulin properly, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and, in the long run, heart disease."*
The key is obviously that we want to have muscular legs—not just big legs—but that doesn't mean our legs need to be perfectly sculpted either.
I know many women like me—women who have an active and healthy lifestyle and have never had small legs—who will feel vindicated by this research. As anyone who has engaged in any strenuous activity over a prolonged period of time knows, your legs get more muscular—and bigger—when you exercise a lot (tennis champ Serena Williams being the best example of this), so it's nice to know that well developed thighs are something we can now be proud of rather than ashamed about.
I've long believed that one of the drawbacks of being naturally thin is that you aren't forced to think as often about diet and exercise and, by extension, your health. And this study reinforces the notion that curvy women—who often work hard to stay fit—have yet another reason to walk with pride.
I found the Nike ad above earlier, and I think the copy for this ad is a good way to end tonight . . .
I have thunder thighs.
And that's a compliment
because they are strong
and though they are unwelcome
in the petite section,
they are cheered on in marathons.
Fifty years from now
I'll bounce a grandchild on my thunder thighs
and then I'll go out for a run.