My Thighs Will Save Me

I grew up with a girl named Ulie* who very regularly said, “No offense…” just moments before saying the most offensive things imaginable ranging from “Your mini-bangs really aren’t holding their curl today, Amy” to “No one shops at County Seat anymore.”

*names have been changed slightly to only very nominally protect the innocent

By the time we reached high school, Ulie and I were both on the cheerleading squad, even sharing the role of co-captains one unfortunate season.  Even though I only had about ten pounds on Ulie, maybe fifteen, I was always the stunt base. The rock solid base. She was the top of the pyramid, the tip of the food chain, the head of the pecking order that exists in that microcosm we call small town America.  In my mind, this is what Ulie and I looked like together.

My apologies to Mo Willems

Somehow I didn’t realize that we were very close to being the same size. I should have figured it out when she stood right in the middle of my back. Or maybe when her shoe dug into my thigh, my skirt pushed up so she could get a better grip of rubber on skin. Or possibly when she decided to do a two person stunt and she stepped first on my leg, then my elbow pit, then my shoulders, her black and red Kaepa triangles digging into my neck while I held her cankles to support her.

This is what we really looked like together.  I’m the one whose face hasn’t been pixelated and she is the ginormous hair next to me.  With the scrunchy. Don’t miss the scrunchy.

Pixelation added to actually protect the innocent…but how about that hair?

Do we look like big and small or like two normal high school sophomores…from the early nineties when “normal” involved freezing spray, a teasing comb, and a hair dryer?

But this is what happens when you are a teenager and you believe what people tell you, especially if those people are cheerleaders and need a place to stand.  Your little becomes big. Your healthy becomes fat.  Your thighs get prefixes like thunder.  And you begin to see yourself as an elephant wearing glasses holding a little prickly pig up in the air so the crowd can cheer while your heart back breaks.

Thankfully, about a year after this photo was taken, the bright and shiny of cheerleading came to an end after nine long years when I was told that I would be “benched” from an upcoming wrestling match if I missed practice in order to attend my grandfather’s funeral.  Because one thing cheerleading taught me was to be aggressive, be be aggressive (b-e-agg-r-e-ssive!), I stopped by the end of practice on the way home from the funeral and quit being stepped on by the Ulie’s of the world for good.  It was also about that time that I cut out my pouf and started wearing the clothes I really wanted to wear that had decidedly not come from County Seat.

This morning I read a report that women with thin thighs are more likely to die from heart disease.  I looked down at my solid gams and smiled to myself thinking about not only all of the cheerleaders they helped me hold up over the years but also my children, the mulch in front of my house, the furniture that I built for my office, the bags of groceries for my family not to mention all of the walking they’ve done all over the world, the dancing, the jumping, the way they have carried me through my very happy life.

It was nice for them to have their little moment in the sun.  

And it also made me want to tell Ulie, “No offense…but you’re more at risk for heart disease.”


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  • Speaking as the “big boned” girl in high school, this made me chuckle.

    • Did people try to climb you, too, Leah? Darn our sturdiness.

  • Oh, Amy! From where I stand (sit?) you are perfect! 😉

    While I wish my thighs were a little thinner, I am so grateful that my risk for heart disease is slightly lessened because they are chunky!

    I was never a cheerleader. When I heard you had to do the splits, I SPLIT (well, really I said “Nevermind, I’ll do ag!”)

    Good for you for GOING to your Grandfather’s funeral. I think it’s disgusting that you were told you were going to be benched for going to something so extremely important.

    Sayonara, ULIE!

    • Yes, that was an easy choice and after nine years, that after school activity had long worn out its welcome anyway!

  • I wanted to stand up with my thick, cheesy thighs after reading this and do a cheer for you! But I was too busy eating Trefoils so I’m leaving a comment instead.

    Also, congrats on being one of only three people in that picture who doesn’t look like a poodle.

    • Unfortunately, poodles were in style so I took some heat for that, but I’m able to look back with far less shame now. You win some you lose some.

  • Amy – thank you for this. I have thighs..big THICK thighs. Even when I was a size 2/4 I had THIGHS! I spent years hating them, but today I celebrate them. Please keep writing like this!!

  • Had I been popular enough to make cheerleader (because of course it had nothing to do with my inability to do a back handspring, right?!) I would have probably been the base, too. Love this post!
    As soon as I got the be aggressive part I immediately went into a natural “Vikings Be Aggressive” cheer in my head…so I was obviously still a cheerleader in my mind! 😉

    • I was doing the Be Aggressive cheer all night. My husband was not amused.

  • Michelle

    Love it! So glad to know I’m less likely to die of heart disease…. And yes, I was also a cheer leading captain base?

  • Mary C.

    My thighs were not big when I was younger and smaller, but they are now. Does that mean I’m out of the woods on having heart disease? Ok, my cholesterol numbers tell me I’m not. I’m thankful that at least my blood pressure stays low. So glad you stood up for what was right! I agree with Zipporah, please continue writing like this!

    • Thank you, Mary, and I hope to write more from my heart…or my sarcasm 😉 As for your health, my guess is that my thighs won’t really save me either because I have shockingly low HDL, but I’m going to sleep better at night pretending that a lifetime of needing to buy straight leg pants will be what takes me happily into my golden years…

  • Janet

    Being 5’10” tall, I was always the base on my cheerleading squad. I definitely let out a little chuckle when I read your post, Amy. We bases need to stick together. 😉

    • Janet, I am FIVE FOOT THREE! (Crazy, I know!!) By the way, I hope you did what I just did and pictured what would happen if we were the two sides of the base. The poor girl on the top would fall right off the side of our lopsided base!

      • Janet

        That visual was too funny, Amy!

  • A.Smith

    You are one heck of an entertaining writer Amy.

  • Amy thanks for the authentic post. now I can learn to accept my thighs and celebrate me 🙂


  • I needed this today! Your writing is so uplifting and encouraging – and FUNNY! Thank you Amy 🙂

    • Thank you, Annie! I will be missing you this week!

  • I so love this. So well told…

    When I was in high school, I wanted to try out for cheerleading, just so that I could be “that girl”– the one who had short, plum-colored hair (which I already had) and florescent polka dotted panty covers (I have no idea what they are called lol) under my cheer skirt.

    Somehow, I knew better.

  • […] My friend Amy wrote a great post about her thighs, and the lasting effect it can have when you’re labeled as “big.” Plus, it includes an awesome picture of her as a cheerleader. […]

  • I always knew the gap between the thighs was a form of evil. Long live the thunder thighs!

  • Thank you for a good laugh. I have never read anything more insightful about thighs before…I intend on holding my head up high and stretching my short thick legs as far as I can and strut my stuff today after reading this 🙂 Thanks for making me proud of my big thighs! 🙂

  • Love this post Amy! I think that’s what kept me from going out for the squad- I would have been a base too.. I’m glad that we’ve grown out of that and thank God for our thighs! Which will always be a little thicker yet muscular than the Ulie’s of the world..


  • […] And while we’re talking about people you love, I can’t help but notice that there’s a special someone in your life whose opinion of you you are working very hard to control. The truth is, that isn’t your job. Your worth has nothing to do with how he feels about you. It’s okay to allow him to have his own opinions. You are wonderful and amazing and perfect just the way you are, created to be who God wanted you to be. If he likes long skinny arms and legs, that is his issue, not yours. There is a young man in Texas right at this very moment just waiting to fall in love with you and your wonderfully sturdy physique. […]