Recently I was talking to an athlete friend of mine while she was stretching post workout and asked her what some of her current fitness goals are. She responded asking if I knew who Carrie Underwood is. “Uh, yes.” “I want her knees.” This is where I sat down on the floor next to her because I had to talk this one out. The convo went like this:
me: so have you ever met Carrie Underwood? I mean, have you seen her in person?
me: oh, so you’ve only seen her photoshopped.
her: oooohhh, yeah, I guess you’re right.
me: and what exactly are we talking about as far as her knees go?
her: well I have this wrinkle of skin on my knees . . .
This is where I stand to show my knees which have been swollen since 1998 and don’t fit into the cultural standard of what “good looking” knees “should” look like to demonstrate that without the knee wrinkle she is talking about she would not have enough skin to bend her leg. I have had the thought that my knees don’t look “good” or “right” or they make my legs look “big” but I stopped that realizing that I don’t want my knees to hear me talking negatively and stop working on me. Because them functioning and allowing me to do what I want to do when I want to do it pain free is all I really care about.
Now this conversation may feel really ridiculous to you, I mean, now we’re supposed to worry about what our knees look like? Shit. Add it to the list. But it’s a great example of how in our own head we get about our bodies, how much focus we put on the idea of fitting into a standard that isn’t realistic. I mean, it’s not realistic if you want to bend your knees. Knees are a great example because you don’t hear about them as much and objectively you probably think it’s a little silly-because it’s not your “thing.” It’s not the one thing you’ve been telling yourself that is wrong with you or if only it was different fillintheblank. So the question is what are you concentrating on not looking “right” that is just a part of your body? Just the way you were made? This part that you don’t think looks right but is giving you a functioning body? Who has determined that it is important? Is it actually important? And my final question to you, and that I posed to her: “it you did get this thing you want-Carrie Underwood’s knees- what would be different in your life?” How would your life change, how would it be better if this one little thing changed? Usually the answer is nothing. Really. It doesn’t typically make you happier, hotter or better. You’re still you, so instead of trying to adjust the outside to some standard that you’ve created or bought into look at how you’re responding to these thoughts. Start observing your reactions then choose to respond. For me when I see a photo that I think my knees are big or whatever I acknowledge that I had that thought then say “thank God they work” and move on. It’s a process but working on the mind talk is what will really make you happier, hotter and better.