Senior Year Superlatives: Here I am, in my most comfortable shorts (I have three pairs of these exact shorts, and I wear them almost every day), voted Best Legs.
(note: I’m wearing a BLAZER in this picture. More on this in a minute.)
I am a runner. I take a lot of pride in my legs. My legs have carried me over thousands of logged miles, through long, hard sprint workouts and up the steepest hills at breakneck pace. They are my favorite part of my body. They are not thin. I don’t have a thigh gap, and when I flex, they are rock hard and as defined as a marble sculpture, but when I’m walking around the mall, they jiggle, and they have cellulite, and sometimes the inseam rides up between them. They are my best asset because they are beautiful and I am so proud of all the things they do for me.
My legs are the part of my body I am most self-conscious about.
Contradiction. It’s hard to dress my legs. They look best to me in boot-cut jeans, short shorts, and mini skirts.
A note on short shorts and mini skirts: I am a small girl. On a good day, I’m 5’2”, and I’m pretty short waist-ed. So a shorts that barely cover a tall model’s crack fit me like the ones here:
Finger tip rule is obviously flawed, according to these pictures. I could probably get away with these (in fact, I have) but she definitely couldn’t! And THAT’S NOT HER FAULT.
And a body con mini skirt is usually a business-appropriate pencil skirt for me. (This is not a joke. Almost every dress/skirt I buy has to go to the tailor. Being short is expensive.)
This is supposed to be a mini skirt. My knees are right below the crop.
Let’s take a detour.
In middle school, I despised my legs. We had a uniform. It was:
Polo shirt (Navy, Maroon, or White)
Khaki or Navy bottoms (Shorts finger-tip length or longer, pants or capris, skirts for girls only)
The uniform was uncomfortable, and I never felt pretty in it at a time when feeling pretty is a huge part of a girls’ self-esteem. I couldn’t afford Polo Ralph Lauren shirts, so I wore generic Wal-Mart brand or Target brand. I never wore shorts because I thought my legs were ugly. Every day, in desert heat, (upwards of 100) I wore pants and cargo capris. I was never confident. My legs are thick with muscle now, but they were thicker in middle school, so while other girls walked around in tight designer shirts, I tried desperately to suck in my belly throughout the day. Funnily enough, no one thin ever got in trouble for a shorts-length violation, but if you were muscular, or you filled out your shorts too much, or if you were, God forbid, offensive looking enough (read: fat), girl you best change your shorts or walk around in grey surplus sweatpants.
Because of a plethora of body image issues, I ended up developing an eating disorder. I skipped breakfast and lunch every day for THREE YEARS. After the first year, I was swimming in my uniform. I had to wear belts notched at the tightest hole so they wouldn’t fall off. There was two inches of space between the start of my inseam and my crotch. Small polo shirts were flowy and loose.
This is when I began to love shorts.
Let’s go back to my size. I wear a size four because thighs and butt. But when I wear shorts that are just the right length, (they hit the junction between my fingers and my palm) I feel COMFORTABLE, CONFIDENT, AND PROFESSIONAL.
GASP. Shorts are not professional!
Give me a break. This woman HAS HER SHIT TOGETHER, OKAY? Not everyone works an office job where pantsuits are mandatory.
Do I think midrift baring tops are appropriate for some workplaces? Yes. Some workplaces. However, in some cases, it isn’t about being sexualized, it’s about presenting varying degrees of modesty. I understand this.
Back to school dress codes:
Should I be able to wear a midrift baring top to school?
No, I don’t think so.
I believe school should be a place where students are expected to dress in a manner that is modest, professional, and classy.
But do I believe that these rules should be exclusive to women?
If I have to trade my crop top for a blazer, so does a boy.
I also believe that “professional attire” is a very subjective thing. If your mom and dad let you wear it out of the house, what’s wrong with it? I don’t understand why my mom is okay taking me out to dinner in a spaghetti strap top, but heaven forbid I wear one to History.
What does this have to do with shorts length?
Sure, my shorts are shorter than my fingertips. But guess what? I make them look PROFESSIONAL AS ALL GET OUT. Every day for school, I pulled up my big girl shorts, tucked in my graphic t-shirt, threaded a belt through my loops, and pulled on a blazer. My mom wears this sort of outfit to casual Fridays at her dress-and-heels-mandatory workplace, a VERY LARGE ACCOUNTING FIRM WHERE SHE IS A MANAGER. If my mom can wear to work what I wear to school, I’m pretty sure MY SHORTS ARE NOT TOO SHORT.
Why am I bringing this up?
I never got in trouble in high school for shorts length, save for once. But I saw a lot of girls who did. I saw girls humiliated and paraded through the halls like cattle to the AP, who would force them to wear XXL orange sweats. This was INTENTIONALLY SIMILAR TO PRISON UNIFORMS, I AM NOT EVEN JOKING ABOUT THIS. The shirts said PROPERTY OF XXHS. Are you kidding? Your jumpsuit makes a girl into an object more than her shorts do. A very close friend of mine wore skirts to school, and damn, he looked FABULOUS, and all day people asked him, “Did you lose a bet?” In what universe must a guy lose a bet in order to feel comfortable in his very cute skirt? That was slightly off topic, but it relates.
I am writing this now because I am mad. I’m livid. I’m pissed because now that I am in college, I applied for a sort of “cheerleader” type job at my school. It’s a job that requires pep and excitement and love of the school. They give us a t-shirt to wear while we’re working, and I was so excited to don my shirt and khaki shorts and start until I found out there is a LENGTH REQUIREMENT on the shorts.
This is a job that requires working outside during VERY HOT TIMES OF THE DAY doing PHYSICAL LABOR, and you’re telling me I can’t wear my reasonable shorts because they look unprofessional?
PLEASE, give me leather belt and a lightweight summer blazer, and I’ll walk VERY PROFESSIONAL CIRCLES ALL AROUND YOU.
This goes back to my self-consciousness. I hate the way my legs look in shorts longer than my mid-fingers. These shorts accentuate the largest part of my leg, and creates a very unflattering silhouette. I love my legs, but if I don’t feel confident in the uniform you force me to wear, I’m not going to be as outgoing as I usually am. I can’t be your school’s biggest cheerleader, because your school makes me uncomfortable.
So here’s the point, I guess: The way a girl dresses should not depend on her size, weight, body type, or what YOU have decided is appropriate. A girl should dress in clothes that make her feel COMFORTABLE, CONFIDENT, AND CAPABLE. And if you’re like me, and you feel comfortable in shorts with 2-inch inseams, more power to you.