Mainly, of course, it’s optimism about the Scottish weather. I’m not one of these Brits who goes around in minimal clothing the moment it gets remotely warm, mainly because I tend to be rather a chilly beast, and quite honestly I think they’re nutters who are bound to be rained on. But I am reasonably confident that we will get at least a few hot days this summer when I will manage to get out, and I am now prepared for them by the arrival on my doormat of the first pair of shorts I can remember owning since the age of 16.
I grew up convinced that I had lousy legs, since that was what I was told, and if I compared myself to the impossible images in the media, or simply to the other girls at school, my legs did not come out looking all that fantastic. Looking back, they were perfectly nice legs, and who cares if they tended to be a bit fattier on the inside of the knee. Anyway, I lived in trousers and long skirts. They suited me in terms of shape – you don’t exactly get to be long-legged or willowy when you’re 4’11 – and they were easy to move around in, so that I never had to bother with learning how to get into a car like a lady. As a result, I more or less forgot about my legs, in terms of my personal identity, sexuality and so forth. The only time I remember wearing shorts, apart from early childhood, was on an archaeological dig in Israel when I was 16. Since Israel in August is pretty hot, the women generally wore bikinis, shorts, hats, sunscreen, and an incredible amount of dirt.
Then I put on weight, which did not improve the look of my legs, and lost it again. My figure is rather different now to how it was before I gained weight. I’ve dodged the bullet on loose skin, but I am decidedly less curvy than I was before. A friend yesterday was reminiscing about the fabulous hourglass figure that I apparently had when I was twenty-odd. People were ogling my bottom? This is news to me! I have ended up with no bottom at all, for some reason, and my main concern these days is trying to find trousers which actually fit, and then hunting them down cheaply on eBay. I now know that my shape is officially an Apple, i.e. I tend to put weight on in the abdominal area (this is common for ME sufferers, and we’re wondering if there’s a hormonal element at work). Apple shapes are usually told consolingly that we should make the most of our cleavage, which is absolutely true, and that we all get great legs, which is absolute nonsense.
Still, I am less bothered about such things than I used to be, and mainly thrilled to be slim again rather than worrying about the fine-tuning. So I decided to be brave and get some shorts. It doesn’t matter if my legs aren’t perfect, there is no law saying that women are forbidden to show their legs if they have the odd lump or bump. I was trying to stock up on those handy linen blend trousers which Next reliably puts out every summer, which somehow turned into looking for shorts as well. The old ones I had are a size 10, and while I can still wear them thanks to the drawstring, I’m swimming in them. I guessed that I would be a 6 and started rummaging through eBay. A few days and some inconveniently-timed auctions later, I was the proud owner of a pair of brown linen blend trousers, and some storm blue shorts of unknown material which looked like they were made with the same proportions.
The trousers haven’t arrived yet, but the shorts turned up this morning. They’re pure linen and thus crease if you so much as look sideways at them, with cream stitching throughout leading me to suspect that they’ve been dyed, but they are very acceptable shorts and they cost me a fiver. And they fit! And you know what? I have perfectly nice legs under there. Instead of fretting about what my mother would say, or how they compared to the Impossible Ideal of legs in the media, as I would have as a teenager, the main opinion I was interested in was my own. By now I have other things to think about, so I’m not staring at my legs with a particularly critical eye. They’re nice shorts, they’ll be comfortable in the hot weather, they’re surprisingly flattering, and my partner will think they look great.
And then, of course, my legs got cold, so the shorts are in the laundry basket and my legs are hidden away again under a pair of cords which are a little on the big side, but the best fit I’ve found so far. Still, I am feeling decidedly liberated by all of this, and might even dare to try a short skirt or minidress in the future.