Training Myself To Wear Shorts

I have always hated shorts. At my smallest, at my leanest, at my largest: shorts have always been my worst enemy. Because of my body type, I carry more weight around my thighs, hips, and butt, no matter what size I am, so it’s always been an area of high scrutiny for me — not an area I’ve wanted to highlight. It’s rare to find pictures of me in shorts, even working out I prefer leggings and crops. There is something about having fabric stop mid-thigh that has always terrified me, has always made me feel as though my legs are about ten sizes bigger than they actually are. It’s actually kind of funny, and I can’t quite figure out why I’m 100% more comfortable with fabric clinging to my every curve (as in leggings), than I am in shorts. It makes no sense, I know.

It started at a young age, back in elementary school when a girl told me my butt jiggled when I walked. It continued on as I gained a little weight during the first couple years of college and my self esteem really took a hit. It became even worse when, one summer day in my early 20’s, I was walking down the street in Boston in one of my only pair of shorts, when a man walked toward me yelling “Cell- U- Liiiiiiiite!”.

Yes. That actually happened.

None of these things traumatized me (although what the hell was that guy thinking?), but they all added to my ever present fear of shorts and how they might accentuate my “trouble areas”. Luckily when I was growing up, girls weren’t wearing the super short shorts that are everywhere now (God, that makes me sound old), so it wasn’t too much of an issue. I could wear longer shorts and no one would think twice about it. Now, when I go shopping to get one or two pair, because sometimes it’s so hot it’s just necessary to have less fabric, I find it impossible to find anything longer than a 5″ inseam. And that feels super short for me.

To put it in perspective, this isn’t just about a skewed self perception. Because the reality is, most shorts just don’t fit people with my body type. I have a small waist, some serious glutes, and some equally serious quads. Shorts that are loose enough on my thighs always fall off at at the waist, and if they fit my waist, I can’t even pull them up over these quad monsters.

It’s a conundrum.

Now, I will admit, that I do wear shorts more nowadays than I used to, mostly because over the past few years I have finally grown fairly comfortable in my own body. Lifting has helped me with this big time, and has helped me to really appreciate my legs and their shape, because I know that their shape helps me to be as strong as I am. However, as much as I appreciate what these legs and glutes can do, I still don’t always love how they look.

Enter my running shorts.

I have a pair of running shorts that were given to me as a gift, and I love them. I love them when they’re sitting in my “workout-clothes” drawer, however, because they’re kinda short (you know, like normal running shorts are), they rarely make it out. They’re super cute and comfortable, but when I put them on, I feel like I’m wearing underwear. I promise that’s not actually the case, and I’ll show you a picture below to prove it.

Anyway, I decided one day last week that I’ve had enough of being afraid of my shorts, and I really just need to get over it. I may not have the perfect legs, and I probably never will, but that doesn’t mean that my legs are so offensive that they should never see the light of day! So I took those shorts out, put them on, and walked around town all day in them. Leg jiggle be damned.

ShortsThe shorts in question. It’s funny, because when I look at them now, objectively, I can see that they’re not that short. And my legs certainly aren’t offensive. But this is NOT what I saw when I was walking around that day. 

I’m not going to tell you that I had this beautiful moment where I was all “OMGeeee I Love my legs so much, the world is a beautiful place!” Nope. I was uncomfortable. When I went for a walk in the morning, I felt like everyone I passed was wondering why I was wearing such short shorts. I kept looking down at my legs, expecting to see what, I’m not sure. But all I saw was a pair of pretty normal, muscular, quadzilla (in the words of Neghar Fonooni) legs.  I did get a little bit more comfortable as I walked around that afternoon, but not to the point where I felt as though I was totally at peace with those silly little shorts.

But that’s ok, and that will come. These legs do some pretty amazing things, and I just need to keep that in mind on those days when I feel like they don’t deserve a pair of shorts. Because hell, sometimes it’s just too damn hot, and nothing else is gonna cut it. Amiright? 

I guess my point is this: I am in pretty darn good shape, I am strong, I eat pretty healthfully,  and I take care of myself pretty well. But I’m not perfect, and I’m still learning how to show those parts of myself that are the least perfect. Just because I write a blog doesn’t mean that I love my body all the time– and it’s ok if you have reservations about certain parts of yourself too. We’re all learning to be ok with our perceived flaws, I guess the best thing is to remind yourself that those perceived flaws are much bigger in your own mind than in the minds of others.

So I will keep wearing my shorts. I will keep reminding myself that it’s okay to wear these shorts, and any other pair that I want to wear. I’ll keep working on feeling good in them, on being comfortable and owning these legs that carry me around every day. They are the only pair I’ve got after all, so I might as well learn to love them!

Readers: Do you have a certain article or type of clothing that you’re not comfortable with? Do you have trouble finding shorts that fit? How do you get over your own body fears and own what you’ve got? 

47 thoughts on “Training Myself To Wear Shorts

  1. Keep wearing your shorts. Your legs look great! I have the same body type and I work out all the time. Run, cycle, lift weights – you name it. My legs, like your legs, are STRONG, not ugly. You go girl!

    1. Thanks!! It’s taken me a LONG time to appreciate my legs, but I’m getting there.

  2. I’m with you–can’t stand shorts! I think we have similar body types small waist and strong thighs :). I stick with the long short types, if at all…mostly I try to avoid them and opt for skirts instead. Getting over body type fears–I definitely challenge myself to wear “different” for me things and after that first or 2nd wearing, I feel better about it. I remember how tough it was to embrace skinny jeans–now I have no issue with those. And yesterday I put on a pair of wide-leg RED pants. I never wear red pants. But wore them in public and felt a little odd…but need to branch out of my boring color scheme a bit this summer and this is a good start 🙂

    1. I think we are sharing a brain! I tend to stick to dresses and skirts over shorts as well — I’m just much more comfortable in them. And you are so right about becoming more comfortable after a few tries — I remember being mortified at the thought of skinny jeans, now they’re the only kind of jeans I wear, and I love them! Bravo on the red pants — I’ve been pushing myself to try more colored pants instead of just black all the time, and it really is liberating, isn’t it? Next up, patterns — if I dare!

  3. Oh my gosh I hate shorts. I can’t run in them, because my legs will ALWAYS touch. No matter what haha! And I will not deal with chaffing 🙂 I just wear them when I’m casually hanging around the house or when it’s THAT excruciatingly hot out. Otherwise, leggings for this chica 🙂 And not ashamed of it!

    1. Yes leggings are definitely my clothing of choice for my bottom half! And I absolutely can not run in shorts, talk about uncomfortable. Running crops for me even when it’s super hot!

  4. I definitely get what you mean; I do generally quite like my legs (just not my hips… haha) but every year when it gets warmer it takes me a few days to adjust to having so much skin exposed, even though I bear way more flesh than the average person. Personally, that cut of short has never looked good on me; I choose the tight lycra variety which I surprisingly find way more flattering. I absolutely cannot believe somebody shouted “cellulite” at you – that guy mustn’t have an overly fulfilling life I shouldn’t think!

    1. It always takes me a few days to adjust once it gets warmer out — I always wondered if that was just me, I’m glad it’s not! And I think that cut of short isn’t the most flattering on me either, I think they’re more made for actual “running” body types, thinner legs, less glutes 🙂 I haven’t dared to go with lycra shorts in public, but maybe someday I’ll get there!

      And that guy… who knows what his problem was. Like I said, it wasn’t overly traumatizing, just one of those “WTF” moments!

  5. I wore shorts (quite short shorts) in public for the first time last year, aged 36. It was terrifying at first, but I took heart from the fact that, where I was living at the time, there were plenty of ladies around wearing shorts/minis who were FAR larger than me, and they looked fabulous. I do still feel self-conscious, though – especially as now I’m getting older, the cellulite & thread veins seem to multiply by the day. But I keep those fabulous larger ladies in my neighbourhood in mind…. if they can do it, so can I.

    1. Wow awesome! I’m sure that was scary and liberating all at the same time. It is so true that we are our own worst critics, and looking around, we would never say the things about others that we say about ourselves. I love your attitude, keep it up!

  6. So, looking at your pic, I feel we are very similar in size and build.. lean and skinny up top; with all the thickness in the bottom. Blessing and curse, I say. Looking at your pic, I feel I can just paste my head on there and the body is the same!

    I have learned to LOVE my legs and glutes and child bearing hips and found wearing booty shorts extremely liberating. The first time I wore them to workout (at home), I wrote a blog post about it because of how free I felt, despite not being comfortable to wear them outside.

    Now, if shorts are more than a 3″ inseam, I feel like an old lady.. haha. Rock that booty and quads, girl! I say you can go even shorter, and tighter! Embrace the thick thighs and show off what you have worked so hard to achieve. 😉

    1. Haha, Thank you Jenn! It’s so funny how many people have commented saying that their body is very similar to mine — I’ve always felt so disproportionate, but I guess it’s quite common! And it is true, the thickness on the bottom is both a blessing and a curse, depending on what day you ask me 🙂

      I have not dared to go with the booty shorts or lycra shorts to work out in public — only when I’m at home. If I can work up the courage, I’ll give it a try for a stadium workout this summer and I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!

      As for the short shorts on a regular basis… I think I’m a long way away from being able to do that mentally, but I’m really trying to embrace my 5″ inseams! I wore them around yesterday all day and felt pretty darn good, I must admit!

  7. I loooove shorts, but then I generally prefer to wear as few clothes as possible (ideally shorts, tank tops, bikinis underneath, flip-flops – total beach bum, I am). What I do not love, however, is that guy who made that comment to you. I would like to find him and karate-chop him in the throat.

    1. When I’m near the beach, I love the beach bum vibe, but in the city I feel like people just stare! Although maybe I should just stop caring 🙂 And RIGHT? What in the world was he thinking? I’ll never know. I actually remember stopping dead in my tracks and just staring at him, speechless. I should have taken your lead and karate chopped him in the throat though!

      1. They might be, I have no idea. (And if they are, how obnoxious of them.) The city down here – St. Petersburg – is pretty shorts-friendly. I think it’s more a matter of survival than anything, though, because wearing pants in 90% humidity is like asking for heat stroke.

        I guess I have to say that this is one blessing of being extraordinarily tall. I’ve gotten so used to people looking at me everywhere I go that I don’t even notice it anymore.

  8. I feel your pain girl. In addition to exposing a part of part of my body I don’t feel 100% confident with, there’s the added pain of heading out to purchase those devices of mental torture (this is especially true in the denim variety). Recently I read an article about this company called Barbell Denim and they make jeans for those of us with muscular legs and butts. Maybe they’ll come out with shorts some day. I certainly hope so, because all I really want in life is a pair of cute denim shorts that aren’t skin tight around my legs and gaping in the waste.

    1. Oh my god, going shopping for jeans and/or shorts is actually torture. I recently heard about Barbell Denim too, and I really want to get a pair!! If they live up to their promises, it’ll be like a gift from heaven. Shorts built for the athletic body type would be juuuust wonderful too!

  9. Hear hear! Wear those shorts with pride! It took me the longest time to be okay with wearing “short” shorts. I use quotations because they are still average or long by normal standards. The best thing to remember is how capable those thunder thighs are! That’s what I do!

    1. “You is strong. You is kind. You is important” (haha, sorry, I had to!) Maybe this is what I should say to my legs in the mirror every day 🙂

  10. This post was MADE for me! I was just talking to a friend over dinner yesterday about my fear of shorts because my inner thighs rub together (I too got called names like ‘thunder thighs) and cause the shorts to hike up. My friend consoled me and said she sometimes feels the same way but ‘just doesn’t care’ That’s a place I need to move towards! Great Post!

    1. Yes I’m very slowly working toward that place of just not caring — it’s tough but I feel like I might get there someday. Good luck, from one thunder thighs to another! 🙂

  11. I feel ya girl, I also carry my weight in my hips and legs and even though I’m not big either, shorts can be a struggle. I actually really love my big booty but there are days when I wish it were smaller. I also know I judge myself Waaay harsher then anyone else (minus asshole cellulite man, that’s just plain rude!) Wear those shorts with pride girl!

    1. Cellulite man was just an idiot — and I’m not even sure he was all there, mentally. I’m the same though, some days I love this booty and some days I feel like it just gets in the way!

  12. I love this. I have same problem w shorts no matter how fit I am. Legs and butt always ever present. Rock on sister! Your legs are amazeballs. Thank you for writing about how I feel.

    1. Thank you so much! Very sweet comment 🙂 I’m not sure my legs have ever been called amazeballs, so I’ll take that one with me today!

  13. I’m pretty sure we are body doppelgangers. I also hate long distance running and I tell people it’s because I’m built like a weeble-wobble! 😀 I’m with you on the shorts issue, it’s always a struggle. I also seem to have a problem with maxi dresses. If it’s small enough to fit my bust, it’s waaaaay to tight for the booty.

    1. Yess, it can be a tricky body type, that’s for sure! And maxi dresses can definitely be a challenge! I gravitate towards “fit and flare” type dresses to accommodate these hips and booty, so maxi dresses don’t really fit in that category. I do have a couple that I love though, sometimes it just takes trying on about one million to find one that works!

  14. Funny you should post this — and Caitlin should link it — today. (Sorry for the blatant linkspam, but I felt it was too appropriate.)

    I’ve stopped caring about the shorts/hips/butt/thighs thing, largely because it’s one I’ve worked with for so long. I feel like if it was going to ruin my life by now, it would have. Though I’m definitely with you in that I would like it to be easier to find shorts that fit in the waist, hip, and thigh all at the same time. (Though these have recently started doing me good.)

    That said, I’ve more recently struggled with working out in just a sports bra. (And, you know, pants or shorts and — when relevant — shoes.) My stomach has more visible surface area than anywhere else on my body (save for maybe my breasts); plus it is pale white girl heaven, which seems to emphasize any softness and de-emphasize any tone it has. That said, it’s hot here, and in certain types of exercise, I find that my shirt actively impedes my performance. So it makes sense to want to take it off now and again, even if it’s currently only in my own living room.

    1. Haha — I love your post! Big booty’s unite — and you are absolutely right that yes, my butt IS big, and there is no pair of pants or shorts that will hide that (not that I want them to). You know, I was out running stadiums yesterday morning, and I was HOT. I wanted to take my shirt off (plus, I had a really cute sports bra on), but then I thought “nah, I shouldn’t”. I feel like one of these days I’m just going to get so tired of the “shouldn’ts” and go out there in spandex shorts and my sports bra. Wouldn’t it be liberating? Terrifying, but in a good way 🙂

  15. Same here! I found great shorts at rei or mec in Canada too brands lole and Prana. Casual shorts fit so nice and don’t ride and I have bigger legs than you! I see women with similar body types as me and I think they look great so I ought to take it easier on myself!

    1. Yes, I feel like once you find a brand or cut that works you’ve got to stock up if you have a body type like ours, because the good ones are so few and far between! I’ll have to check out REI for some casual shorts, especially for the hot days when I’ll be working outside and can’t possibly wear long pants!

  16. It’s just one of those things, isn’t it? You look like the people I see at the gym and think, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be great to have a body like that and just throw on a pair of shorts and not worry about it!” It’s all a matter of perspective. I’m sorry that one person once said something completely ridiculous to you about your body. It’s just part of the ongoing freelance body terrorism of the patriarchy – keep all the women feeling insecure and they’ll ask for less, I suppose. It takes a lot of determined momentum for me to put on anything that shows any part of my body below the waist. I have thick ankles, varicose veins, cellulite, stretchmarks and inner thighs/knees shaped like someone much older. You would never know I’ve been eating clean and working out every day for 5 years. I’ve had lots of mean comments – from total strangers and from boyfriends, lovers, and friends. “You’re just a big old mess down there, aren’t you?” ‘Wow, you really have to wear bell bottoms because of your ankles!” “I could never love someone with thighs like that” — the list goes on. For you it’s been a fashion question, for me it’s been a sad life with rejection and humiliation, and somewhere out there is someone in a wheel chair who wishes she had legs to be ashamed of. It’s all a matter of perspective.

    1. Thank you for this comment — and it really is all about perspective, so I’m truly glad to read yours. I hope this didn’t come off as some privileged whining, because I really didn’t want it to sound “woe is me” — I realize I’m actually very fortunate. I can’t believe all of the things that people have said to you. I’ll never realize what it is that makes people think that they can say whatever they want to others, no matter how hurtful or demeaning. Thank you for your insight, I know that it can be hard to brush off things that people say, especially when they come from people that you care about. Keep on pushing on, you know that you’re being the best that you can be, and that’s what really matters.

  17. OMG. I want to punch that guy in the face. Seriously. You have great legs and you should be showing them off 🙂

    1. Right? That guy was just an idiot, plain and simple. THANK you Tara, that means a lot coming from someone with a bod like yours! 😉

  18. Love this. And your legs are awesome. But I feel ya – I have the exact same issue with my arms. After 2 years of weight lifting, adjusting my diet and 6months of Crossfit they start to look a way I like – but – tamktops are always a critical thing. I have some specific cuts that fit great and I bought them in 5 different colors twice 🙂
    But yes, they are my arms. And funny enough is the fact that pullups, dips and benchpress are my strongest results. 🙂

  19. Love this post. I feel your pain, even though I have the reverse problem. My legs/butt/thighs are smaller on me, but I have a bigger waist. I don’t mind wearing shorts, but feel very self conscious wearing tighter fitting tops. I prefer looser, more flowy tops. Which isn’t always great when working out – bending, moving around a lot makes them come up, and I definitely don’t want my shirt coming showing my belly! When I see pics like yours, or other women with smaller waists wearing a fitted top, I think they look so pretty and feminine, and I feel like a rectangle with arms and legs attached 🙂 It’s all perspective, I guess. And I think we’re all too hard on ourselves.
    I think you look great!

    1. Thanks Kelly, and I think you’re right, it’s all about perspective! I know there are plenty of people who are far bigger than me that feel totally comfortable in shorts, and people who are WAY smaller than me who hate wearing shorts even more! I think it’s all just about learning to be comfortable in your own skin, no matter what other people say.

  20. I have a short shorts phobia too. I have a smaller upper frame, but I have badonkadonk (especially for an Asian woman) and thighs to support it. I know what you mean about feeling more comfortable in leggings than in short shorts. I have trouble with shorts and pants in general where my quads and butt force me to get pants with a bigger waist. I guess that’s why I like wearing tights working out, and I think that phobia has transferred over to workout shorts. Makes no sense, I know.

    You look great in those shorts though and yes, you’re healthy! It’s strange how we can feel so uncomfortable with certain body parts despite living a very healthy lifestyle.

    1. Thanks Vanny! It’s so funny because in general I LOVE my bigger legs and bum, but when the shorts come out, my brain goes in the opposite direction! Funny that we both prefer leggings — I don’t feel self conscious at all in my running tights, even though that really shows off more than a pair of shorts do!

  21. I read your article and thought “Finally, someone understands!” … and then I saw your photo, and realized this was just another “Omg, I thought I was fat until I realized I was actually skinny!” piece. I’m sure you mean well, but clearly you have no idea what it is like to have fat ugly legs that have to be constantly hidden from public view. Take it from someone who has spent every one of my 50 summers inside, while all the normal people were outside in shorts and swimsuits enjoying the sun. You have absolutely nothing to worry about.

    1. Hi Sharon, Thanks so much for your thoughts on this — and I think the key here is that it’s all about perspective. I thought I made it pretty clear that I know rationally that I’m not big, that I don’t really have anything to worry about, but that doesn’t help to make me any more comfortable. As I said to someone else above, there are many people who are far bigger than me who feel 100% comfortable wearing shorts, and there are also people who are WAY skinnier than me who have an aversion to them. I hate to hear you say that you stay inside because you feel that you have to be “hidden”. No one deserves to be hidden away, and I think a lot of it comes down to perspective, acceptance of self, and taking steps to live the life you want to live. I’m very sorry that I disappointed you with this piece — I just think it’s important to remember that how people feel on the inside is often very different from how they look on the outside, and this goes for everyone – skinny, fat, and everywhere in between.

      1. I’m sorry that my post was so negative.I had spent a long day running errands in jeans in the Texas heat and took it out on you. Your feelings are absolutely as valid as mine, and I am sure that a lot of people can relate. Good for you for overcoming your fear.

  22. This was such a good post. I’m only 21 and I started lifting about a year ago and my legs have gotten a bit bigger. They’ve always carried muscle and I used to view them as stocky since I”m 5 foot 1 and 120 lbs.I stopped lifting for a month due to an injury and my legs slimmed out quite a bit. I enjoyed having smaller legs, but they weren’t as strong as they used to be. I’m “training myself to wear shorts” now with my legs. For me it’s all in my head that my legs are big since nobody around me seems to think so, they just see them as strong and my friends think that my butt is enviable. I look forward to reading your blog, it’s great!

  23. I really enjoyed this post. I have a pair of little running shorts I want to wear to the Spin class at the gym because my legs just get too hot in leggings. But I feel worried about wearing them. I’ve got them in my backpack in case I’m brave enough to wear them to the class after work, with leggings as a back up in case I chicken out :/

  24. So I see you wrote this in 2014 but you have no idea how much this has hit home for me. All my friends, family and boyfriends throughout the years have made fun of me for never wearing shorts. They have no idea how uncomfortable they are!!

    Reading your story has inspired me to just accept my legs and keep working out to maintain my confidence. Thank you for writing this. It really helped me and from the comments, it has helped others.

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