lifestyle

It's time we embraced our "thunder thighs".

It’s just flesh. But it can help you do some pretty awesome things.

Sitting on a chairlift with a friend and her tele-skiing sister, I overheard the following exchange between the two of them:

“I don’t think I can handle more than one or two more runs. My legs are shot.”

“Oh, whatever,” replied my friend’s sister. “We are totally skiing the rest of the day. Dig deep and use your thunder thighs, girl.”

This was the first time I had ever heard the term “thunder thighs” used in a positive context. Generally, the phrase tends to conjure up a negative image of excess flab, describing an ample amount of flesh located between a woman’s knees and her derriere, and linking having a normal female body with the “danger” of being overweight.

“Thighs that clap together as you walk, legs that are so massive the ground quakes before you: these are supposedly things we don’t want our bodies to do.”

Thighs that clap together as you walk, legs that are so massive the ground quakes before you: these are supposedly things we don’t want our bodies to do.

Like many of the body image words we cultivate, “thunder thighs” is a limiting term. Being accused of having thunder thighs implies a woman can’t or shouldn’t do something. For example:

“That skirt? Ugh, not with her thunder thighs.”
“Ahh! I’ll never fit these thunder thighs in those jeans!”
(Side Note: Does anyone else find it interesting that thunder-thigh-related put downs revolve around clothing? Apparently, looking good in clothes is a very important feminine skill.)

Rarely is the term used with positive connotation. It’s little wonder so many women list their thighs as their least favorite body part. I would, too, as I’ve been gifted with a society that prizes stick-thin hips and thighs.

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My genes gave me the opposite.

Instead of getting down about my thighs, I think of that chairlift conversation. We skied until last chair that day. It goes without saying that we enjoyed every powder turn along the way, despite screaming quads and frosty noses.

“Those thighs – regardless of size – are what help us have awesome ski days and carry us through our adventures. “

From that point on, “thunder thighs” was a term that was enabling and positive. Those thighs – regardless of size – are what help us have awesome ski days and carry us through our adventures. When I think of my thighs, I associate them not with looking good but with:

– Scrambling up scree fields to reach a lofty summit;
– Powering up a hill — and then thundering down it — on a trail run;
– Lunging through waist-deep powder on my tele skis;
– Pedalling my bike around town instead of driving;
– Hopping between rocks as I cross a stream; and
– Carrying a pack of 70-plus pounds while guiding a backpacking trip through the wilderness.

As an outdoor woman, you’re likely to agree: Life would be pretty boring without the above activities. Adventures are the silver linings of life, but few of them would materialize without hamstrings and quadriceps strong enough to get us there. Heck, I could take it so far as to credit my thunder thighs for enabling me to live out my dream in a mountain town as a ski bum and raft guide.

Given the choice between rocking miniskirts and rocking the mountain life, I’ll take these thunder thighs as a badge of honor.

This article was written by Emily Downing, and originally published by the Outdoor Women’s Alliance. It has been republished here with full permission.

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