The Transformative Power of Orange Leggings
April 3rd, 2016
It was a pair of bright orange leggings that helped me make peace with my thighs. I guess that’s a bit of an overstatement. The leggings themselves are black, but they are adorned with large flowers of a truly outrageous hue, strongly reminiscent of a solar flare. Let’s just say that “subtle” and “understated” are not words that leap immediately to mind when describing these leggings.
Speaking of adjectives, you could use a lot of different words to describe my general physique, but “dainty” probably wouldn’t be one of them. I’m five foot nine in stocking feet. And the women of my family have never been waifs. There’s a classic photograph of my mother and her three sisters from sometime in the early 1970s. They were captured in a cheerfully candid moment, rooting for gifts beneath the Christmas tree.
The resulting photograph gave rise to an enduring phrase in our family – “the Burkhalter Butt.” Ah, the majestic family derriere – and the perfectly proportional thighs that accompany it – has been the source of much family lore.
It has also been the source of occasional family angst over the years, as various female relations have come to terms with their thighs. I’ve never suffered from debilitating self-consciousness because of my genes. I’m pretty comfortable in my skin. But I watched the rise of skinny jeans, leggings, and jeggings with some trepidation. My body was made for boot-cut, thank you very much, and the thought of squeezing myself into a pair of skin-tight pants was more than a bit alarming.
My kids haven’t been entirely helpful in bolstering my confidence. My three-year-old recently nabbed a pair of my underwear from a pile of clean laundry, held them up, and inquired innocently – “Why your underpants so big, mommy?”
But the legging craze has lingered and I’ll admit that I really like the look of funky leggings, boots, and scarves. I cautiously dipped my toe into that fashionable sea this fall by purchasing a pair of black leggings and a long grey sweater jacket. Not a bad look.
The breakthrough, however, came a few months later, in the form of the aforementioned black and orange leggings. I didn’t pick them out. I was shopping through a Facebook boutique and its owner offered to send me a random pair of leggings to check for size before I committed. When I opened the box she sent, I was simultaneously horrified and entranced. They were gorgeous. And very wild.
I put them on. They fit great! But could I possibly venture forth from the house dressed like that, with hot orange flowers splashed across my thighs and rear? Ultimately, it was my children who decided it for me by immediately announcing their approval. My youngest redeemed herself from her earlier comments about my undergarments by proclaiming – “Mommy, you so pretty!”
I wore the new outfit to work. Nobody fell off their chair laughing. A good first step. I wore it to an evening reception and received positive feedback. Huh. What do you know? I like leggings! I am not yet ready to venture into the realm of short tops with legging – preferring to keep my posterior demurely covered by a tunic – but I think that’s probably for the best. One can have too much of a good thing, after all.